The World’s Desire for Plastic is Dangerous IELTS Reading Passage with Answers
READING PASSAGE 2
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 15-26 which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.
The World’s Desire for Plastic is Dangerous
A million plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change. The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water and the spread of a western, urbanised culture to China and the Asia Pacific region.
More than 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300 billion a decade ago. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun. By 2021 this will increase to 583.3 billion, according to the most up-to-date estimates.
Most plastic bottles, which are used for soft drinks and water, are made from Pet plastic, which is highly recyclable. But as their use grows rapidly across the globe, efforts to collect and recycle the bottles to keep them from polluting the oceans, are failing to keep up. For instance, fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in rubbish dumps or in the ocean.
Whilst the production of single use plastics has grown dramatically over the last 20 years, the systems to contain, control, reuse and recycle them just haven’t kept pace. In the UK 38.5 million plastic bottles are used every day – only just over half make it to recycling, while more than 16 million are put into rubbish dumps, burnt or leak into the environment and oceans each day. “Plastic production is set to double in the next 20 years and grow by 4 times that by 2050 so the time to act is now,” according to environmentalist. There has been growing concern about the impact of plastics pollution in oceans around the world. Last month scientists found nearly 18 tonnes of plastic on one of the world’s most remote islands, an uninhabited place in the South Pacific.
The majority of plastic bottles used across the globe are for drinking water, according to Rosemary Downey, head of packaging at Euromonitor and one of the world’s experts in plastic bottle production. China is responsible for most of the increase in demand. The Chinese public’s consumption of bottled water accounted for nearly a quarter of global demand, she said. “It is a critical country to understand when examining global sales of plastic Pet bottles, and China’s requirement for plastic bottles continues to expand,” said Downey. In 2015, consumers in China purchased 68.4 billion bottles of water and in 2016 this increased to 73.8 billion bottles, up 5.4 billion. “This increase is being driven by increased urbanisation,” said Downey. “There is a desire for healthy living and there are ongoing concerns about contamination of water and the quality of tap water, which all contribute to the increase in bottle water use,” she said. India and Southeast Asia are also witnessing strong growth, which is bound to cause problems in the future for the planet.
Major drinks brands produce the greatest numbers of plastic bottles. Coca-Cola produces more than 100 billion single use plastic bottles every year – or 3,400 a second, according to analysis carried out by Greenpeace after the company refused to publicly disclose its global plastic usage. The top six drinks companies in the world use a combined average of just 6.6% of recycled Pet in their products, according to Greenpeace. A third have no targets to increase their use of recycled plastic and none are aiming to use 100% across their global production.
Plastic drinking bottles could be made out of 100% recycled plastic, known as RPet – and campaigners are pressing big drinks companies to radically increase the amount of recycled plastic in their bottles. But brands are hostile to using RPet for cosmetic reasons because they want their products in shiny, clear plastic. The industry is also resisting any taxes or charges to reduce demand for single-use plastic bottles – like the 5p charge on plastic bags that is credited with reducing plastic bag use by 80%.
Coca Cola said it was still considering requests from Greenpeace to publish its global plastics usage. The company said: “Globally, we continue to increase the use of recycled plastic in countries where it is feasible and permitted. We continue to increase the use of RPet in markets where it is feasible and approved for regulatory food-grade use – 44 countries of the more than 200 we operate in.” Coca Cola agreed plastic bottles could be made out of 100 per cent recycled plastic but there was nowhere near enough high quality food grade plastic available on the scale that was needed to increase the quantity of RPet to that level. “So if we are to increase the amount of recycled plastic in our bottles even further then a new approach is needed to create a circular economy for plastic bottles,” Coca Cola said.
Greenpeace said the big six drinks companies had to do more to increase the recycled content of their plastic bottles. “During Greenpeace’s recent exploration of plastic pollution on remote Scottish coast, we found plastic bottles nearly everywhere we went,” said Louisa Casson, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace. “It’s clear that the soft drinks industry needs to reduce its plastic waste.”
Do the following statements agree with claims of the writer?
In boxes 15-20 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
FALSE if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
15 Experts say that plastic waste is worse than global warming.
16 Most bottles manufactured for drinking are made from plastic that can be easily recycled.
17 In Britain, only 20% of plastic bottles are recycled and the rest is reused or thrown out.
18 By 2020, China’s use of plastic bottles will be greater than the rest of the world.
19 Major drink companies only use a small percentage of recycled plastic in their bottles.
20 A leading environmental organisation says that the oceans will be filled with plastic if big business doesn’t act.
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write the correct letter (A-D) in boxes 21-26 on your answer sheet.
21 Every second, approximately how many plastic bottles are purchased on the planet?
A twelve thousand
B twenty thousand
C fifteen million
D thirty-eight million
22 Most plastic bottles that aren’t recycled are…
A set fire to
B put into boats at sea
C put into garbage tips
D sent to companies
23 The majority of plastic bottles are used for…
B drinking water
D Coca Cola
24 What is the percentage of drinks companies who have no plans to use more recyclable plastic in their products?
25 According to the article, RPet is
A a major drinks company
B an expert in plastic bottle production
C bottles made out of highly recyclable material
D bottles made out of 100% recycled plastic
26 Greenpeace thinks one way to reduce plastic waste is to…
A tax plastic manufactures
B clean the oceans
C stop drinking bottled water
D use more recycled material
The World’s Desire for Plastic is Dangerous IELTS Reading Passage Answers
18. NOT GIVEN
19. TRUE (6.6%)
20. NOT GIVEN