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What to Do with Cape Verde’s Plastic Problem

In Cape Verde, the trend of embracing single-use plastics en masse is relatively recent. As the economy has grown – with GDP nearly quadrupling since 2000 to $1.98bn before the pandemic – so has the use of disposable goods and single-use plastics, activists said. But trash collected by Cape Verdean environmentalists shows the island chain’s entanglement with the rest of the world’s action – or inaction – on plastic pollution. Plastic bottles from Bangladesh, octopus traps from Senegal and Mauritania, and discarded or lost nylon fishing nets from fishermen across the globe regularly wash up on these islands, despite their location hundreds of miles from the nearest landmass.  The litter is ferried there by the powerful Canary Ocean current. Later this year, Biosfera plans to open up its first recycling centre, the latest of a handful that has opened on the islands in the last year. Before that, there was no way to recycle, and to this day, recycling remains in the hands of just a few nonprofits.