Unilever Seals $2m Partnership Agreement on Plastic Waste Collection

Gilbert Ekugbe 

Expressing concerns over the increasing plastic waste due to increased consumption of plastics, Unilever Nigeria and Bridges Outcomes Partnerships have entered into a $2 million US partnership to help social enterprise Wecyclers expand plastic waste collection in the country.

Besides, the United Nation Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) had stated that consumption of plastics in Nigeria jumped by 116.26 per cent within a period of 15 years to 1.25 million tonnes.

Addressing a press briefing to seal the deal and mark its centenary celebration, the partnership set up through an innovative “Development Impact Bond” structured by French investment bank Societe Generale, will allow Wecyclers to create hundreds of jobs to scale up operations that takes up plastics waste out of the environment to be used as raw materials for industries.

According to the Managing Director, Unilever Nigeria, Mr. Carl Cruz, Unilever Nigeria and Wecyclers have been working together since 2014 as part of Unilever’s ‘waste to wealth’ campaign, designed to help local organisations work out ways on how to create value and jobs from the reduction, collection, recycling, and reusing of plastic waste.   

He stated that under the partnership, seed funding from Unilever, UK Government and EY joint project called Transform helped Wecyclers expand their successful franchise and collection model. 

He however, stated that as an entrepreneurial social enterprise, Wecyclers lacked access to the long-term funding needed to build on that progress and significantly scale up this model.

“The unique Development Impact Bond provides a solution to that challenge. It includes social, environmental, and financial targets, which will see Wecyclers collect more than 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste over the next five years, create over 700 jobs in recycling franchises across Nigeria, and improve the incomes of thousands of waste sorters. This funding is a major step forward for us in our work to ensure plastics waste stays out the Nigerian environment,” he said.

In his words: “It shows there is wealth to be made from creating jobs tackling plastics waste, it cleans up the Nigerian environment and it develops a more sustainable financing model for groups like Wecyclers.”

On his part, the Managing Director, Wecyclers, Mr.Wale Adebiyi, said Wecyclers started with one bicycle and a dream, and through hard work and entrepreneurship, it has built a scalable model courtesy of the Development Impact Bond that will create hundreds of jobs, and improve the income of thousands of sorters, expected to earn 25 per cent more than they do currently.

“All the partners involved hope this experience in Nigeria will inspire the further development and use of such Bonds globally to finance organisations tackling similar challenges,” he added.

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