NIGERIAN Bottling Company (NBC) officials are planning to introduce revolutionary new chewable bottles in which they will sell Coca Cola as part of a radical environmental programme aimed at reducing the amount of plastic in circulation.
A member of the Coca Cola Hellenic Group, the NBC makes and distributes Coke across Nigeria but the development has led to the proliferation of plastic bottles across the country. As a result, the company has upped its target to recover and recycle plastic bottles introduced into the environment by 40% in 2020 from 25%, which was its previous goal.
In a 64-page Sustainability Report launched in Lagos recently, the NBC also plans to re-use 20% of recycled plastic bottles by next year. Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, the spokeswoman for Coca Cola Nigeria, said that the main goal of the company was to increase the biodegradability of plastic bottles in the nearest future.
She added: “The expectation is that we will have bottles that are biodegradable so that you can enjoy the content and chew the bottle. We are currently investing hugely in research and innovation to make our packaging more environmental friendly.
“Today, we have plastic bottles that are 30% plant bottle and we expect that as we make progress with our research that we will get to a stage where you can drink Coca Cola and chew the bottle.”
About 2bn bottles made of polyethylene terephathalate are released into the Nigerian market annually for an average consumer population of 200m people, according to the report. These plastic bottles, which cannot be digested by living organisms, end up on the coastlines increasing the toxic chemicals, harming wildlife and man vicariously.
Plastic bottle are currently the fifth most commonly found trash items in the world, according to a recent finding. Admitting the scale of the problem, Ifeoma Okoye, the NBC sustainability and community affairs manager, explained that there is a renewed commitment on the company’s part to reduce plastic bottles proliferation on the streets and coastlines in Nigeria.
She added: “The scale of the problem isn’t what a single company can do, so we work in partnership with other companies under the alliance called the Food and Beverage Alliance (FBA). The FBA is made up of eight multinationals among which are Nestle, Guinness and 7Up and we are working with our competitors because we needed to pull enough resources together.
“The cost of retrieving the plastics is very expensive and for it to also be recycled and used not only for other products but also as bottles for packaging is also a very expensive process. So far, we have been able to pick up a number plastic bottles from the streets but our target is total packaging recovery, so whether it is the cork, the shrink wrap or the carton, we want to recover everything and then recycle them.”