Praia – The national director of the Environment of Cape Verde considers that the plastic bags are the public enemy number one in the fight to reduce the plastics that go to the garbage dumps and to the sea.
Alexandre Rodrigues is enthusiastic about the first results of the legislation that banned the use of non-degradable plastic bags, in force in the country since 2017.
Although it does not cover all plastics, it reaches the ones that are most commonly used in Cape Verde, that is, shopping bags, known as “bags.”
The bags now sold on commercial surfaces are biodegradable and decompose in nature in the space of six to 18 months, thus reducing the problem of plastics that are going to the sea.
“This initiative will effectively reduce the amount of plastics but it will still take its time to produce effects because we are talking about plastics accumulated a long time ago,” he said.
Alexandre Rodrigues says that it is now possible to see in Cape Verde “a very interesting fringe of the population that uses reusable bags”.
“There is a need for more awareness campaigns, there needs to be more alternatives in the market, in more commercial areas, it is necessary to massify this so that the reduction can be achieved and who knows the elimination of the plastic bags,” he said.
According to the national director of the Environment, the measures will not stop here: “We are evaluating this legislation and new measures will be taken when it is considered convenient and that are adjusted with our consumption patterns.”
“We can not compare our patterns of consumption with those of Europe,” he said, referring to the European Union’s announcement banning cotton swabs and straws from 2021.
This is because, in Cape Verde, the consumption of materials such as plastic cups at parties or straw is much smaller and there are even internal campaigns to call for the reduction of these consumption.
The country, however, faces other problems such as the high use of pet bottles, taking into account that a significant part of the population does not drink piped water because it is desalinated, even if it is potable.
“The simple act of using a plastic bottle to drink water is already something that will have to be an important focus in the next fights, because the pet bottles also proliferate in our country. Fortunately there are alternatives, companies that collect and then do the recycling, “he said.
Alexandre Rodrigues believes that a greater awareness of the population will continue to bear fruit, even because an announcement that became known worldwide on the impact of plastics on fish showed that this was still an unknown problem.
The movie “The Restaurant” was recorded with hidden cameras and records the reaction of people choosing fish for the meal, but they are served with several plastics in place of the food, thus showing that it is from this material that fish feed, due to the quantity of garbage that exists in the sea, namely plastic.
Launched last year, this action of awareness of the Cape Verdean Ministry of Maritime Economy in favor of the oceans will continue.
“It was seen that many people did not know that plastic would stop the oceans and eventually became part of the fish food chain,” said Alexandre Rodrigues.
On the presence of microplastics in the waters of Cape Verde, the national director of the Environment said that this is being the target of a university investigation and that it should draw a diagnosis of the situation.
Regarding the response to garbage that invades the Cape Verdean island of Santa Luzia, the only uninhabited and natural reserve in the country, where plastics from at least 25 countries were identified, Alexandre Rodrigues said that, with the help of environmental organizations, the Government will continue to remove the garbage, which threatens several species on the island.
The Small Sustainable Islands Organization, to which Cape Verde has teamed up, is helping the country work on this waste issue.
One possible answer will be to involve the countries that produce the garbage that goes to this island in this fight.
“We can not prevent the garbage coming, we can only clean it, but with this organization we will see what measures we will take and what actions we can take and see how we can involve the countries that produce this garbage that reaches the coast of Santa Luzia and how we can wrap all in partnership. ”
Alexandre Rodrigues has no doubts: “It is an international problem, global, it has to be treated in a global way. Cape Verde alone will not be able to deal with the waste problem alone. “