By Vivian Ihechu
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Nestlé Nigeria Plc, a leading Food and Beverages Company, and WeCyclers on Friday will see no fewer than 15,000 Nigerians empowered through an extended plastic waste recovery system.
Wecyclers is a social entreprise that helps households in low-income communities capture value from their waste, to accelerate the process of recovering and recycling post-consumption plastic packaging waste in Lagos State.
Speaking at the signing in Lagos, Mr Mauricio Alarcon, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Nigeria said: “ The agreement enables Wecyclers to extend plastics recovery systems to more communities.
“This is through the establishment of collection points across five more communities.
“The project will also help to create 40 direct jobs for collection point operators and sorters, and empower an additional 15,000 Wecyclers subscribers.
“It is estimated that 70 per cent of all ocean litter is plastic and the quantity of plastic waste entering the natural environment harms wildlife and damages the ecosystem.
“The environmental impact is so enormous that the UN described it as a planetary crisis that is causing irreparable damage.
“In Nigeria, the problem is growing due to increasing usage and indiscriminate disposal of single use plastics; we are witnessing a surge in plastic waste pollution’’.
According to Alarcon, Lagos alone produces about 10,000 metric tonnes of waste daily, most of which end up in landfills and in waterways, exacerbating health and environmental hazards.
He said that tackling plastic pollution is an urgent priority which requires a multi-sector collaboration.
“So, this MoU with Wecyclers is another step toward achieving our shared objectives of a waste-free future and building thriving communities.
“One of our ambitions at Nestle is to strive for zero environmental impact in our operations as we strive toward a waste-free future.
“A key part of achieving this goal is to make 100 per cent of our packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025.
“And also, that none of our product packaging end up in landfills, litter environment, seas, oceans and waterways’’.
Alarcon said: “In line with the belief that producers and consumers need to change behaviour and habits to manage the menace, Nestle is taking actions with industry members of Food & Beverage Recycling Alliance ( FBRA).
“This is to engage people, businesses and consumers to play their part.’’
On his part, Mr Olawale Adebiyi, the CEO of Wecyclers said: “This partnership is an avenue to extend the plastics collection and recycling process by setting up more collection sites across Lagos.
“These plastics have value and what we do is to assign value to them.
“When we weigh the amount of material these people will bring, we pay them for it; that will make them go out and find more.
“We on our own will sell the material, and the profit we will generate, we use to fund the process.
“It is basic; we are buying and selling plastics, but in a more sustainable way, making sure that people are engaged,’’ he said.
According to him, the recycling exchange programme, since its inception in 2018, has diverted over 400 tonnes of plastic from landfills into productive reuse.
Adebiyi said that Wecyclers would handle the construction and deployment of each recycling kiosk, with coverage areas including Ajah, Ikeja, Mushin , Lagos Island and Magodo.