It is well documented that large percentages of marine waste come from onshore through rivers, waste water drainages and residue left behind by beach goers. It is estimated that each square kilometre of ocean contains 13,000 plastic pieces of waste material. A recent study conducted by International Council of Beverages Associations (ICBA) found out presence of 15 million pieces of plastics waste in the ocean currently.
Another important report from Ocean Conservancy’s 2018 International Costal Cleanup, established that during coastal clean-ups, cigarette butts are predominant with an average of 2.4 million pieces, followed by food wrappers with an average of 1.7 million pieces, then plastic bottles 1.6 million, plastic caps 1.1 million and plastic carrier bags 757,523 pieces forming five groups of much collected debris during coastal clean-ups conducted by more than 100 countries across the world.
As a coastal country, Tanzania has also a fair share of debris along the beaches in Coast, Dar es Salaam, Mtwara, Tanga and Zanzibar which prompted Coca Cola Kwanza Limited to start a campaign dubbed, ‘Mchanga pekee’ in 2019.
“If this situation is not addressed, it is estimated that by 2050 oceans and seas will have more plastic materials than fish,” said Coca-Cola Kwanza Tanzania Director of Communications, Haji Ally Mzee when launching the campaign in Dar es Salaam earlier this year.
Mzee said the deteriorating situation long the country’s coastline is threatening the environment and people health hence the beverages manufacturer decided to take action through the 12 months campaign.
He said the campaign which was designed, founded and organized by Coca-Cola Kwanza, a subsidiary of Coca Cola Beverages Africa, and started in February 2019, focused on educating, training, engaging and influencing the public responsible plastic waste disposal within communities.
“But we also engaged communities in coastal clean-up through plastic bottles collection, recycling and sensitization on proper plastic bottles disposal best practices in Tanzania,” he added while pointing out that the clean-ups are done in partnership with respective communities.
The ‘Mchanga pekee’ campaign is divided into two main activities, both of which reflect on the common goal of sensitizing communities on the crisis and conservation of the environment.
The campaign is also focused on enabling, encouraging and monitoring coastal clean-ups across the country’s eastern coastline. It is also a platform to increase mass awareness on the need for environmental conservation best practices particularly on plastic waste disposal.
“The campaign has managed to recruit young, dynamic women in Coco Beach, tasked with cleanliness of the beach five times per week, eight hours per day from February 2019 to February 2020,” the Coca Cola Kwanza Director of Communications added.
Under the deal, the women’s group cleans Coco Beach on every Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. “Those women have been handled employment contracts, given necessary working tools and sensitized on environmental conservation by the company,” he noted.
In addition, Coca Cola Kwanza has also financed the deployment of dustbins along the popular Coco Beach which hosts thousands of beach goers every week. The campaign’s Ambassador, notable poet cum folk musician, Mrisho Mpoto said the dustbins have reminded the public to properly dispose waste materials.
“On weekends, Coco Beach receives on average between 300 to 500 people at any given times, and whoever walks in, is certain to meet our cleaners at work. Along the way, visitors would face diverse calls and messages written on every single waste container reminding them to conserve environment,” Mpoto said.
He said to date, it is estimated that over 5,000 people have read such eco-friendly messages which also encourage them to use dustbins to dispose their waste instead of throwing the same along the beach front.
“Through our coastal cleaning taskforce, an estimated 150 plastic bottles, over 250 plastic tops and large amount of marine debris which moved onshore by oceanic waves, have been collected weekly,” Mpoto added.
In general, the campaign is estimated to have collected over 8,500 plastic bottle waste around Coco Beach plus hundreds of metric tons of solid waste washed ashore by waves. Coca-Cola Kwanza has also encourages the public to voluntarily collect plastic bottles disposed carelessly paying an incetive of 50/- each. So far, over 15,000 used plastic bottles have been collected per month from different places by volunteers.