Read the text “Recycling Britain” carefully and answer the questions after.
By 2000, half the recoverable material in Britain’s dustbins will be recycled – that, at least, was the target set by Chris Patten, Secretary of State for the Environment. But he gave no clues as to how we should go about achieving it. While recycling enthusiasts debate the relative merits of different collection systems, it will largely be new technology, and the opening up of new markets, that makes Patten’s target attainable: a recycling scheme is successful only if manufacturers use the recovered materials in new products that people want to buy.
About half, by weight, of the contents of the typical British dustbin is made up of combustible (capable of burning) materials. These materials comprise 33% paper, 7% plastics (a growing proportion), 4% textiles and 8% miscellaneous combustibles.
Of the rest, hard non-combustibles (metals and glass) each make up another 10%, and ‘putrescibles’, such as potato peelings and cabbage stalks, account for 20%, although this proportion is decreasing as people eat more pre-prepared foods. This final fraction is ‘fines’ – nameless dust. This mixture is useless to industry, and in Britain most of it is disposed of in landfill sites – suitable holes, such as worked-out quarries, in which the waste is buried under layers of soil and clay. That still leaves about 40% of the mixture – glass containers, plastics, and some paper and metal containers – as relatively clean when discarded. This clean element is the main target for Britain’s recyclers.
The first question, then, is how best to separate the clean element from the rest. The method of collection is important because manufacturers will not reuse collected material unless it is clean and available in sufficient quantities. A bewildering assortment of different collection schemes operates in the rest of Europe, and pilot schemes are now under way in many British cities including Leeds, Milton Keynes, Sheffield and Cardiff. Sheffield, Cardiff and Dundee are testing out alternatives as part of a government-monitored recycling project initiated last year by Friends of the Earth.
A realistic target for recycling mixed refuse is somewhere between 15 and 25% by weight, according to researchers at the Department of Trade and Industry’s Warren Spring Laboratory. This proportion would include metals and perhaps some glass. Statistics compiled by researchers at the University of East Anglia show that we could almost halve the total weight of domestic waste going to landfill by a combination of ‘collect’ schemes (such as doorstep collections for newspapers), ‘bring’ schemes (such as bottle banks) and plants for extracting metals.
This estimate makes two important assumptions. One is that the government will bring in legislation to encourage the creation of markets for products made from recycled materials, especially glass, paper and plastics. The other is that industry will continue to introduce new technology that will improve both the products and the techniques used to separate recoverable materials from mixed refuse.
► 1 In paragraph 1, the writer suggests that the Secretary of State for the Environment has:
a) created an impossible target.
b) provided a target without a method.
c) given clear details of how to achieve a target.
d) given manufacturers a target to aim for.
2 Correspond the facts with the following numbers in paragraph 2: 33%, 7%, 4%. Which proportion is growing?
3 ‘This mixture is useless to industry’ (paragraph 3). This statement is:
a) true for Britain but not for other countries.
b) a matter of disagreement.
c) the opinion of the author.
d) an established fact.
4 Look at paragraph 4 and
a) find British cities mentioned in it;
b) explain the phrases a pilot project, a recycling project.
5 Look at paragraph 5 and say which words have the opposite meaning to:
a) industrial waste
6 Look at paragraph 6 and say whether these statements are correct or incorrect.
a) The government wants to reduce recycling things like paper and plastic.
b) Industry is encouraged to create new technological processes to create new technological processes for recycling.
7 According to the text, recycling is only possible when:
a) there is enough clean material.
b) there is a small amount of clean material.
c) it is monitored by the government.
d) different collection schemes operate.
2.14 The following text will introduce you to the topic of tropical rainforests. The words are given in the order in which they appear in the passage. The definitions are also given. Check that you know what they mean.
wealth – richness
habitat – place where animals and plants normally live
species – a kind of an animal or plant
layer – one thickness of material laid over a surface
merge – join together
birds of prey – birds that kill animals for food
canopy – the leaves and branches of trees, that make a kind of roof in a forest
abundant – plentiful
sparse – rare
shrub – a small bush
herb – a small plant
elusive – illusory
ash – grey powder remaining after burning
vital – very important
raw materials – natural substances such as coal, iron, oil, gas
aid – help
Great rainforests stretch around the Equator, covering large parts of Central and South America, Central Africa, South-east Asia and northern Australia. These forests are the most complex ecosystems in the world and contain a wealth of resources. Despite their importance, though, they are being destroyed at an alarming rate.
Rainforests grow in areas where rainfall and temperatures are both high and constant. Over millions of years they have developed into the earth’s richest wildlife habitats. They cover less than 10% of the planet’s land surface, but they contain between 50% and 70% of all plant and animal species. The greatest of all the forests is Amazonia in Brazil.
Layering. All rain forests have a similar structure, with five main layers, each with its own specific plant and animal life. These layers often merge together, or sometimes one or more are absent.
Emergent layer – made up of a few of the tallest trees which rise 10 to 15m above the mass of greenery below. From here, Harpy eagles and other birds of prey watch alertly for the animals on which they feed.
Canopy – 30 to 40m above the ground, and some 10m thick, this is a continuous green roof formed by the interlinking leaves and branches of the tree tops. Most of the forest’s many plants and animals are found here, taking advantage of the abundant sunshine.
Understorey – made up of the tops of smaller trees that receive less light, like palms, and of younger trees struggling to reach upwards. Much sparser that the canopy, it has its own community of plant and animal life.
Shrub layer – consisting of shrubs and small trees, this layer depends on sunlight penetrating the upper layers. If none reaches here, both this and the herb layer will be sparse. When a gap appears in the canopy, sunlight reaches the lower regions, causing the shrub and herb layers to grow rapidly.
Herb layer – ferns and herbs making up a layer of undergrowth. Elusive ground dwellers, like the tapir, live down here, along with many insects.
The forest floor is covered by several centimetres of fallen leaves. Here, organic matter is rapidly recycled by the decomposers, and minerals are transferred directly to shallow plant roots. This process is so efficient that the lower layer of soil has little mineral content and most of the forest’s mineral wealth is stored in the vegetation. When the forest is cleared and burned, the minerals stored in vegetation are turned to ashes. The root systems are destroyed, allowing rain to wash away the ashes and topsoil. The remaining soil soon becomes infertile, turning areas once rich in life into wasteland. It takes centuries for the forest to return, if ever.
The importance of rainforests. Tropical rainforests play a vital role in regulating the world’s climate, through their position in the oxygen, carbon and water cycles. They are the most important source of raw materials for new medicines and area a vital source of new foods (at least 1,650 rainforest plants could be used as vegetables).
People of the forest. The rainforest is home to many native peoples, who live in harmony with its environment. Their knowledge of the forest is very important to us, if we are to understand its workings and resources. But every day these people are being forced from their own lands with no regard to their wishes or basic human rights. Both they and their knowledge are being destroyed, along with the forests in which they live.
Destruction of the rainforests. Almost 50% of the world’s rainforests have already been destroyed, and the destruction continues. The underlying causes of this are the growing populations, poverty and unequal land distribution in countries with rainforests. This is made worse by the rich nations’ demand for timber, and large. Badly-planned aid programmes. A long-term solution will only be found when these underlying causes are properly dealt with.
It’s important! It is estimated that one square kilometre of forest is destroyed every two and a half minutes – over one million acres per week.
2.15 Fill in the appropriate word(s) from the list. Use the word(s) only once.
emergent / green / community / to grow / ground / alarming / land / fallen / to wash away
1 an …….. rate 6 …….. rapidly
2 …….. surface 7 …….. dwellers
3 …….. layer 8 …….. the ashes and topsoil
4 …….. roof 9 …….. of plant and animal life
2.16 Correspond the facts with the following numbers from the text: