Five hundred tonnesof Christmas tree lights and at least 25m bags of plastic
sweet wrappers, turkey coverings, drinks bottles and broken toys will be thrown
away by UK homes this Christmas and new year. But only a tiny proportion of this
waste will be recycled.
Even at other times of year, only a little under a quarter of the UK's
plastic waste is recycled, but over the festive period still less escapes the
tip according to a survey by home drinks maker SodaStream. Globally, recycling
of plastics is even smaller.
The outcome is a belief that the Earth is being slowly strangledby a
gaudycoat of impermeableplastic waste that collects in great floating islands in
the world's oceans; clogs up canals and rivers; and is swallowed by animals,
birds and sea creatures.
clog up 堵塞；阻塞
In many parts of the developing world it acts as a near ubiquitousoutdoor
decoration, along roads in India, around villages in Africa and fluttering off
fences across Latin America. And when it is not piling up, it is often burned in
the open, releasing noxioussmoke.
pile up 堆积；堆放起来
There are no global figures on the true scale of the problem but, according
to PlasticsEurope, the European trade association for plastics manufacturers,
265m tonnes of plastic are produced globally each year. In the UK, about two
thirds of this is for packaging; globally, this would translate to 170m tonnes
of plastic largely created to be disposed of after one use.
dispose of 处理；解决
Even at the almost unmatched EU recycling rate of 33%, two thirds of that –
or more than 113m tonnes – would end up in landfill, being burned or cluttering
up the environment. Such a figure, almost certainly a huge underestimate, would
be enough to cover the 48 contiguousstates of the US in plastic food wrapping.
If the world recycled packaging at the rate the US does, 15%, it would generate
more than enough plastic to cover China in plastic wrap. Every year.
clutter up 使杂乱；堆满；塞满 contiguous adj.
A few years ago the UK was seized with worry about plastic bags:
communities went "plastic-bag free" and the then prime minister, Gordon Brown,
announced he would talk to retailers about phasing them out. In the absence of
much change, his successor, David Cameron, recently re-raised the idea of a
national levy. In response, the plastics industry argues that the alternatives
would be even more wasteful in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
be seized with 被（强烈的情感、愿望等）影响
phase out 使逐渐停止；逐步淘汰
in the absence of 缺乏；无…时
alternative adj. 供选择的；选择性的；交替的 n. 替换物；供替代的选择
in terms of 依据；按照；在…方面
greenhouse gas emissions 温室气体排放
What would a world without plastic look like? Earlier this year,
Austria-based environmental consultancyDenkstatt imagined such a world, where
farmers, retailers and consumers use wood, tins, glass bottles and jars, and
cardboardto cover their goods. It found the mass of packaging would increase by
3.6 times, it would take more than double the energy to make and the greenhouse
gases generated would be 2.7 times higher.
the mass of 大多数
To understand this, consider the propertiesof plastic that make it so
attractive: it is durable, flexible, it does not shatter, it can breathe (or
not) and it is extremely lightweight. As a result, food and drink are protected
from damage and kept for lengths of time previously unimaginable.
The European Packaging and Films Association (Pafa) says average spoilageof
food between harvest and table is 3% in the developed world, compared with 50%
in developing countries, where plastic pallets, crates, trays, film and bags are
not so widespread. Once the food reaches people's homes, its lifespan is also
increased – for a shrinkwrapped cucumber, from two to 14 days.