A crowd of some 70 community members went out on a rally to pick up waste in Surulere to mark International Youth Day.
The ‘Surulere Pick UP Rally is part of a movement to recover three tonnes of plastic waste—that’s 3,000kg—from the environment by SWEEP Foundation, and its partner The Coca Cola Foundation.
The United Nations Environment Programme estimates the world generates around 300 million tonnes of plastic waste each year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.
Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s.
About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.
The main worry is disposable or single-use plastic, which are thrown away after one use, and have an integral part of daily lives.
Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year.
In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away, according to UNEP.
The International Youth Day is to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and to celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society.
The theme this year—Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health—emphasises that meaningful participation of young people is crucial to the success of such a global effort.
The day also seeks to address challenges as poverty reduction; social inclusion; health care; biodiversity conservation; and climate change mitigation – all driven by youth.
Obuesi Phillips, founder of SWEEP Foundation, lauded the financial support from TCCF, emphasising the importance of youth participating in eco-friendly practices at the height of climate change. He said,
“We are delighted to be celebrating the International Youth Day through a plastic pick-up rally,” said Obuesi Phillips, founder of SWEEP Founadtion.
“We are propelled to passionately pursue environmental sustainability. This effort to keep our immediate environment free of recyclable waste is in line with the objectives of a World Without Waste.”
Since its inception in TCCF, it has awarded more than $1 billion in grants worldwide to non-profits and nongovernment organisations.
This year, it has awarded grants worth $795,775 to enhance eight projects that focus on packaging, youth and women empowerment in Lagos, Delta, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi and the Federal Capital Territory.
“It’s been a challenging year so far. We’ve seen the negative impacts of COVID-19 globally, food shortages in the country and floods due to a global environmental crisis,” said Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, director of public affairs, communications and sustainability at Coca-Cola Nigeria.
“However, it’s great to see the Nigerian youth persevere despite uncertainties. This inspires [us] to continue in efforts to contribute to youth development through programmes that drive behavioural change, improves basic and technical skills while ensuring their wellbeing and protecting the environment”.
The firm says it is working to reduce its environmental impact by replenishing water and promoting packaging recycling.