Food giants Nestlé and Unilever have joined forces with beverage heavyweights Coca-Cola and Diageo in an attempt to tackle plastic pollution in Africa via the launch of the Africa Plastics Recycling Alliance.

Launched at the CEO Africa Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, the Alliance “aims to turn the current challenge of plastic waste in sub-Saharan Africa into an opportunity to create jobs and commercial activity by improving the collection and recycling of plastics”.

Specifically, the Alliance has been established for companies to “facilitate and support their local subsidiaries to engage proactively in market level public private partnerships, industry collaboration and alliances” and to “share knowledge, encourage innovation and collaborate on technical and other solutions appropriate for sub-Saharan Africa as well as participate in local pilot initiatives”.

The plan is also to engage with the investment community, policymakers and others to accelerate the development and financing of the necessary waste management infrastructure and systems.

In a statement, the Alliance said: “Plastics will remain an important packaging material if we are to give African consumers the safe and affordable products they need. 

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“However, we need to ensure that used packaging does not end up as litter. Unfortunately, a lack of collection and recycling capacity in many African markets coupled with growing populations is creating a growing problem of plastics waste. 

“We see an opportunity to tackle that problem in a way that creates jobs and reduces dependency on imported materials while alternatives to plastics are developed.”