B2 Reading Test

Read an article about plastic waste, and for questions 1 to 8, complete the text with the correct sentences. There are TWO extra sentences you DO NOT need to use.

Is Banning Single Use Plastic the Right Option?

Around the world, people are realising the significant problems caused by plastic waste. In the last 65 years, we have become increasingly dependent on plastic. It’s easy to understand why: it’s cheap to produce, light – therefore easy and cheap to transport – and incredibly strong and durable. But it’s these advantages which also make it so harmful. _____1_____. The micro-plastics that result from these processes are harmful to the environment. It is also very difficult to recycle, in fact currently only 9% of all the plastic produced has been recycled. _____2_____.

One popular solution to the problem is to prohibit single use plastics. In the UK, supermarkets are being encouraged to set up plastic-free aisles, in which the food is displayed loose, and shoppers are encouraged to make more environmentally-friendly choices in packing and transporting their food. A tax has already been placed on plastic carrier bags, which has cut their use by 90%. _____3_____. Schemes for reducing the use of plastic bottles are also being considered, including paying people to return bottles to shops and increasing the number of public drinking fountains. Some governments, such as Canada and India, have even promised to ban the use of single-use plastic altogether by the not-too-distant future.

_____4_____. One of the fields where single-use plastic has a vital role is medicine. This is not just because of its low cost. It’s also because, by using dishes, vials, syringes and so on just once, infection and cross-contamination are minimised. _____5_____. Plastic packaging is also crucial in the food industry, as it ensures that food is safe for consumers. Meanwhile, the provision of bottled water in poor regions and in emergency situations has reduced the spread of water-borne diseases and saved many lives.

Another issue is that alternative materials to plastic are often more environmentally harmful than plastic. Take paper bags, for example. Research by the Northern Ireland Assembly shows four times more energy is required to manufacture a paper bag than a plastic bag. _____6_____. Even more, pollution is created when paper bags degrade, in fact, they generate 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags. _____7_____. Other alternatives, like aluminium, glass, card or cotton, similarly have environmental issues of their own.

Clearly there is a need to reduce plastic waste and its impact on the environment. However, simply banning their single use may not be the best option. Industries that rely on single-use plastics for people’s health and safety must be accommodated. _____8_____. Meanwhile, a better solution to banning all plastics might be to invest in redesigning plastics that can be readily broken down and remanufactured, and better recycling technology.

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