The world wide problem of single use plastics and microplastics in the oceans is just as much a problem in Cape Verde as elsewhere. Prior to the pandemic, the economy of this small country had almost quadrupled since 2000. With this growth came an increased reliance on disposable goods and single use plastics. Whilst this is a problem, it is not the only problem Cape Verde has with plastic. The ocean currents that embrace the Cape Verde islands bring with them plastics from many other places. The seas and beaches around the archipelago collect plastic items from other countries. For example fishing nets, plastic bottles from Bangladesh and octopus traps from countries on the African mainland have been found.
The effects of this rubbish on wildlife is terrible. Sea birds get caught up in fishing nets because the nets are difficult to see. However, it is not just birds, other creatures also suffer. These include fish that are found to be full of micro plastics and baby turtles that get caught up in fishing nets that get washed ashore.
Whilst some of this detritus cannot be recycled, the dearth of recycling facilities in Cape Verde compounds the problem. Later this year Biosfera is planning to open its first recycling facility. A small number of such facilities have opened in the last year or so. Prior to that there was no means of recycling in Cape Verde. Even, now recycling is only operated by a small number of non-profit organisations.
It is to be hoped that there will be an increased desire and ability to recycle in Cape Verde. Alongside that there needs to be a reduction in reliance on single use, non-recyclable plastics. Biosfera has organised workshops on plastic pollution. There was recently one in Mindelo on the island of São Vicente. This was attended by 35 teachers from a school on the island of Santo Antão. Hopefully they will, in turn, teach their children of the problems and things will improve in the future. Plastic pollution of our oceans has to stop.
[20 May 2022]