‘Companies must invest in waste management’

Mr. Baker Magunda is Managing Director/Chief Executive, Guinness Nigeria Plc, a Diageo company. Magunda who was the convener of the CEO Roundtable on Sustainability, a yearly event organised by the Lagos Business School, joined over 70 other upwardly mobile executives to generate debate and chart a course of action aimed at turning the tide in the quest to build a clean environment, reports Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf

Increasingly, the desire to build a livable and sustainable environment is one goal many individuals and corporate bodies are striving to achieve but this is at great cost.

The cost, notwithstanding, there is a consensus among many individuals that this uphill task must be achieved.

This and many more formed the crux of discussion at this year’s edition of the CEO Roundtable on Sustainability, the brainchild of the Lagos Business School.

The various interface and discussion sessions whose overarching theme was, ‘Action to Mitigate Plastic Pollution,’ with players in different public and organised private sectors, bankrolled by Guinness Nigeria Plc, a leading beverage alcohol firm, was engaging as well as intellectually stimulating.

“As a business, we are very conscious of the global initiative towards waste reduction and possibly, eradication. The idea of a circular economy combines three key goals in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation and affordable and clean energy. When we reduce plastic waste pollution, we would be addressing the issue of non-degradable waste, for which plastic wastes contribute immensely. Presently, the tons of plastic wastes that flows into our waters also raise concerns over our hydrological cycle, including the safety of our aquatic life and what eventually comes down as rain to fertilize our farm produce. Consequently, to enjoy good health and wellbeing, we can no longer wait, but to act against the potential hazards of increased plastic waste,” Magunda stated.

The top brewer, who delivered the convener’s remark, noted that there is need for a call to action. “What is required of us as companies, government, civil society groups and the general public to begin to take specific steps towards tackling the issue of plastic pollution. The world at large is dealing with this global epidemic, at least 8 million tonnes of plastics are dumped into the ocean every year which literally is the equivalent of a garbage truck dumping its load into the ocean every minute.

“Mitigation of plastic pollution is pertinent because environmental pollution is one of the most pressing challenges societies and business face today. It is no longer news that plastic pollution, in particular, has confirmed adverse effects on the health and well-being of humans, aquatic life and society at large.”

Magunda, who was quick to observe that the federal government has since introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy to promote total lifecycle and environmental improvement of production systems, said the initiative has the imprimatur of support of the National Environmental Standard & Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).

According to him, NESREA, which is the implementing agency of the EPR programme is also building a synergy of cooperation with the organised private sector.

NESREA, he noted, has since extends “The responsibility of the manufacturers to various parts of the entire lifecycle of their product. This means businesses must play an active part in the take-back, recycling and the final disposal of their product.”

On Guinness’role in the scheme of things, he said the company considers it a bounden duty of sorts and takes this responsibility very seriously and such is ready to implement it through its waste management strategy called the 4Rs, Reduction, Reuse, Recovery and Recycling.

Magunda added that “presently, the global trend is driving a waste to wealth initiative. For circular economy to thrive, the government must be deliberate in creating awareness about the opportunities that are available in proper waste management, such as the huge potentials of job creation. In terms of energy generation, geocycle is the way to go- turning waste into energy and recycled materials. By this, we contribute to a reformative circular economy to achieve a zero-waste society. For instance, Guinness supports the effort of the government through our ‘4R’ waste management strategy, which are Reduction, Reuse, Recovery and Recycle. To this end, we will continue to advocate improved waste management practices, contribute to increased collection and recycling rates countrywide, and provide employment opportunities through scalable recycling solutions.”

“Our goal is simple: to create a closed-loop, sustainable system for all our packaging materials. That means finding innovative ways to minimise our environmental impact and thinking holistically across the entire lifecycle of our products.”

Going down memory lane, Magunda who was named the CEO of Guinness Nigeria in 2018, recalled that “In April 2018, Guinness Nigeria signed up Wecyclers, a for-profit social enterprise that promotes environmental sustainability, socio-economic development, and community health to support Guinness’s waste management agenda by collecting household waste across different formats such as PET, cans and glass, this effort is not restricted to only Guinness branded products.”

Expatiating, he said, “At the regional level, Diageo alongside other Multinationals such as Coca-Cola and Nestle have formed the Africa Plastics Recycling Alliance (APRA) and are working with key stakeholders to strengthen and accelerate the collection and recycling of all kinds of plastics packaging.

“It has become clear that this issue will not resolve itself, it will require the collective efforts of everyone in this room through personal action, corporate programs, and government strategies to address the global challenge of single use plastic pollution and the harm it inflicts on our environment. I strongly believe that a proactive approach to establish new, and leverage existing, multistakeholder partnerships which support the collection, processing, recycling of plastics will lead to the transformative solutions needed to not only tackle the issue of plastic pollution but also help protect the environment on which our very lives and the businesses we run depend on.”

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