Ceres waste reduction efforts take centre stage at International Coastal Clean-up Day Round Table
As we come to grips with our new reality brought on by global environmental challenges, we find ourselves facing massive levels of disruption both in our personal and professional lives.
It is not only humans facing this disruption, but the environment is also experiencing increased pressures from climate change and pollution, often with devastating consequences. This was the main focus at the International Coastal Clean-up Day Round Table discussion, hosted by Ceres.
Plastic waste has been identified as one of the biggest culprits of marine pollution, with various local and international organisations calling on citizens and corporates to do more to reduce plastic pollution.
The overarching call to action from the round table was that we can all make small positive changes in our daily lives and that these will have a cumulative impact on the environment.
Craig Foster founder of the Sea Change Project and Director of the Academy Award Winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher, chaired and facilitated the roundtable session. He quantified South Africa’s position when it comes to the pollution issue by saying that South Africa is the 11th worst plastic polluter in the world in terms of plastic pollution in the ocean.
It is not only marine life that is affected, studies show that microplastics have also been found in our drinking water and food.
“This is a massive problem,” said Paul Moloi, Marketing Manager for PepsiCo’s SA Juice Business, “I look at my future generation and I wonder what kind of a future they will have. Will they have the opportunity to interact with the beauty of nature like I have had? I need to take little steps every day to ensure the sustainability of the youth’s future.”
Aaniyah Omardien, Founder of the Beach Co-op Organisation, was a panellist at the Ceres Round Table and spoke of her experiences regarding the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans.
“For a long time, we have been encouraging the local community in Cape Town to come out in their numbers and participate in beach clean-ups. In some cases, we can track the plastic and see where it comes from. In 2018, there was a massive washout of plastic in the rockpools around False Bay; it was so sad to see that there was more plastic in these rockpools than living organisms. The fact of the matter is that we need to reduce this because more plastic ends up in the ocean and stays there than we realise,” said Omardien.
The round table discussion also highlighted the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to addressing the issue, including legislation such as the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations which will make businesses more accountable for the impact their products have on the environment.
Martin Neethling, CMO of PepsiCo Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) pointed out that, as a signatory of the legislation and a driving force for its implementation, Ceres (through its parent company, PepsiCo SSA) is fully committed to sustainability and agreed that more needs to be done within the realm of business to address the pollution issue.
“There is a need for us to move faster. This was a major driver behind our decision to change from plastic straws to paper straws. Once we change the way we consume the products that we purchase, we have to use less. We also have to put all of our support, and funding, behind recycling initiatives where we can make a massive change,” said Neethling.
On the paper straw issue, Moloi told the panellists that Ceres is already migrating the plastic straws on its 200ml Ceres juice boxes to paper straws.
The tone of the roundtable discussion was upbeat and inspirational. Ella Bella, Founder of Generation Earth pointed out that it is important to acknowledge that the issue of addressing ocean pollution is in fact a matter of addressing national heritage.
“This is about building a sustainable future for our children, and when we get involved with it, we become passionate about it. And when we become passionate about it, we get on the same page and our passion is ignited enough for us to change our lifestyle. We need to do more every day and we need to carry this passion into our homes, into our workspaces and our communities to build on this momentum,” said Bella.
Neethling added that PepsiCo SSA is steadfastly committed to effecting real environmental change and that the company is serious about tackling plastic pollution.
The public can watch a recording of the round table on Ceres’ https://www.facebook.com/ceresfruitjuice/posts/4414163651963788 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O54Eq7DeEJ4 social media pages.
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