To mark World Clean-up Day 2019, hundreds of employees from Coca-Cola’s bottling partner, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) teamed up with the Department of Water and Sanitation, Plastics SA, and municipalities, to help collect packaging waste across the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu -Natal. 

The project is a national partnership with various stakeholders to coincide with Clean up and Recycle Week which is commemorated in September every year. Last year, the nationwide clean ups attracted 885 volunteers who collected and filled 1 994 bags of waste, focusing especially on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics, which is used in bottling of soft drinks. Crews of 50 to 150 CCBSA employees volunteered their time to collect and document trash littering the coastline.

In KZN, CCBSA partnered with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), Durban Solid Waste (DSW), Plastic SA and KZN Ezemvelo in a clean-up of the Beachwood Mangroves and the Mbokodweni River mouth from 20 to 21 September. In the Eastern Cape, volunteers met in East London to clean up on 13 September, and additional groups planned a clean-up in Port Elizabeth in the first week of October.

"Along with air pollution, natural waterways and oceans are the worst affected by human consumer activity,” says Stanley Shongwe, Head: Sustainability and Transformation at CCBSA. “The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry has an important duty to reduce waste in the environment through an effective waste collection and recycling market, awareness building and using environmentally-friendly materials.”

“A world without waste is possible if we all come together to collect and recycle as much packaging waste as possible and drive a circular economy,” says Shongwe. “Protecting our natural resources, especially keeping our waterways clean and safe, is vital for generations to come.”

On the Buffalo Flats, near Ngase Ephesians Church in the Eastern Cape, 106 volunteers, 82 of which were CCBSA employees, collected around 300 bags of waste. Another 394 volunteers donned plastic gloves and worked together to clean up beaches, mangroves, and river mouths in and around Durban as well as the Mbokodweni River mouth, collecting over 500 bags for both days.

The clean-ups, which also took place in Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Gauteng, are part of The Coca-Cola’s Company’s World Without Waste initiative, which aims to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one that it sells by 2030. Through the support of PET Recycling Company (PETCO), Coca-Cola collected and recycled 65% of PET plastic waste in South Africa in 2018. World Without Waste also aims to create packaging that is at least 50% recycled material by 2030.  

“We believe every package we create should have more than one life,” adds Shongwe.  “When waste is turned into worth, it can create economic opportunities for impoverished communities and protect natural resources such as waterways and oceans.”

Key to achieving high collection rates is partnering with local communities, NGOs, industry and consumers to collect packaging and help ensure it doesn’t end up where it doesn’t belong.

Says Shongwe, “By taking action this World Clean-up Day, we hope to send the signal that every action counts - and that through collective action we can all benefit from a cleaner, waste-free environment.”

As part of Coca-Cola’s broader World Without Waste Strategy, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has been recognised for the successful and impactful implementation of its Schools Recycling Programme by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF).

CCBSA’s Enterprise and Community Development Head, Tsholofelo Mqhayi, accepted the award during DEFF’s Waste Khoro ceremony held in Kimberley, for the company’s consistent efforts in enlisting over 700 000 school learners and over 860 schools to become active participants in reducing waste and recycling.

Through its School Recycling Programme, CCBSA seeks to instil a culture of recycling whereby learners become ambassadors at home and within their direct circle of influence, as well as over the long-term, as they become adults who lead responsible waste management in their families and communities.