IELTS READING PRACTICE TEST PASSAGE 2: The world’s desire for plastic is dangerous

The world’s desire for plastic is dangerous

A. 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.

B. 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.

C. 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.

D. 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.

E. 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.

F. 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.

G. 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%.

H. 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

Questions

Questions 15-20

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 information

FALSE             if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on 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 are 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.

Questions 21-26

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 in to garbage tips 

D. sent to companies

23. The majority of plastic bottles are used for… 

A. storage 

B. drinking water 

C. recycling 

D. Coca Cola

24. What is the percentage of drinks companies who have no plans to use more recyclable plastic in their products? 

A. 6.6% 

B. 30% 

C. 33% 

D. 100%

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

Answers

Questions 15-20

15. Answer: False

  • Key words: plastic waste, worse, global warming
  • In paragraph A, campaigners (considered as experts) predict plastic waste will be as serious as climate change.  
    • “A million plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis that some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change”.
  • Global warming is not mentioned, but it is one of the major factors in climate change, so we can consider it as climate change here.  The key term is “as serious as”:  this is the comparison of equality, which means plastic waste is not worse than global warming in terms of environmental problems.  It can be considered as equally serious.  The answer is False.
    • experts ~ campaigners
    • say ~ predict
    • global warming = climate change
  • The answer is FALSE.

16. Answer: True

  • Key words: most, bottles, drinking, easily, recycled.
  • In the True/ False questions, the questions are set in the order that the answers appear in the passage, so we can pay attention to the paragraphs after paragraph A. 
  • In paragraph C, we find the information that we need: 
    • “Most plastic bottles, which are used for soft drinks and water, are made from Pet plastic, which is highly recyclable”.
  • In IELTS Reading, they often different word forms to paraphrase the idea. For example, “recyclable” is an adjective and “are recycled” is the present simple passive form of the verb. 
    • manufactured for drinking ~ used for soft drinks and water
    • easily recycled ~ highly recyclable
  • The answer is TRUE.

17. Answer: False

  • Key words: Britain, 20%, plastic bottles, recycled, the rest, reused, thrown out
  • We look for information about Britain or the UK or England. We can see the second sentence in paragraph D:  
    • “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.” 
  • So, over half, which means more than 50% are recycled (make it to recycling) and the rest (more than 16 million) are thrown out to rubbish dumps, burnt or leak into the environment and oceans. 
  • Hence, there are at least two wrong pieces of information here (more than 50%, not 20%;  and the rest are thrown out, not reused). 
    • Britain = the UK
    • recycled ~ make it to recycling
  • The answer is FALSE.

18. Answer: Not Given

  • Key words: 2020, China, plastic bottles, greater, the world
  • We need to find information about China by 2020. The number and the name are information that is easy to find, so we should focus on them first. Paragraph E is about China’s consumption of plastic bottles, which has the same meaning as China’s use of plastic bottles. However, there is no information about the year 2020. Therefore, this is not given.
    • use = consumption
  • The answer is NOT GIVEN.

19. Answer: True

  • Key words: Major, drink companies, small percentage, recycled plastic
  • We can see in the first sentence of paragraph F is about major drinks brands. “Brands” refers to “companies”, hence we pay attention to this paragraph. 
    • “The top six drinks companies in the world use a combined average of just 6.6% of recycled Pet in their products”.
  • We already know – see paragraph C – that Pet plastic is recyclable.  This information is repeated in this paragraph.  As only 6.6% of the plastic used by the top six drinks brands is recycled plastic, we can say that this is a small percentage of the total.  The statement is true.
    • major ~ the top six
    • companies = brands
  • The answer is TRUE.

20. Answer: Not Given

  • Key word: leading, environmental organization, oceans, big business, act.
  • The leading environmental organization mentioned in the passage is Greenpeace and this word appears in paragraphs F, H and J. However, although paragraph H mentions that Greenpeace have found plastic bottles nearly everywhere that they went, warnings to ‘big business’ (= the major drinks companies, like Coca Cola) are not mentioned anywhere in the passage.
  • The answer is NOT GIVEN.

Questions 21-26

21. Answer: B. twenty thousand

  • Key words: every second, plastic bottles, purchased, 
  • Paragraph A is about the demand for plastic bottles in the world (on the planet):
    • “A million plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute….The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second….  
  • Do not be confused by the number of bottles bought every minute.  The key words are ‘every second.  The correct figure, therefore, is 20,000.
    • approximately = about
    • on the planet ~ around the world
    • purchased = bought
  • The answer is B.

22. Answer: C. put in to garbage tips

  • Key words: most, not recycled
  • Paragraph C is about what happens to plastic bottles after being used. They may be recycled or reused, but 
    • “most plastic bottles produced end up in rubbish dumps or in the ocean”. 
  • Therefore, A and D can’t be the correct answer. The bottles used may end up in the ocean, but there is no information about them being put into boats. Hence B is not the answer. The answer is C: “garbage tips” which refers to “rubbish dumps”.
    • garbage tips = rubbish dumps
  • The answer is C.

23. Answer: B. drinking water

  • Key words: majority, used
  • The first sentence of paragraph E states that:  “The majority of plastic bottles used across the globe are for drinking water”. 
  • It is obvious that the answer is B.

24. Answer: C. 33%

  • Key words: percentage, drinks companies, no plans, more, recyclable plastic
  • Paragraph F is about drinks companies, so we focus on this paragraph.  6.6% is the percentage of recycled plastic in their bottles so the answer can’t be A. 30% is not mentioned. 
  • The paragraph continues: 
    • “A third have no targets to increase their use of recycled plastic and none are aiming to use 100% across their global production”.
  • This means about 33% (a third – 1/3 of 100) of drinks companies have no targets, which means they have no plans to use more recycled plastic. Therefore, the answer is C.
    • 33% ~ a third
    • use more ~ increase their use
    • plans = targets
  • The answer is C.

25. Answer: D. bottles made out of 100% recycled plastic

  • Key word: RPet
  • We pay attention to paragraph G, which contains information about RPet. The reference to RPet is given in the first sentence: “…plastic drinking bottles could be made out of 100% recycled plastic, known as Rpet…”
  • Therefore, the answer is D.

26. Answer: D. use more recycled material

  • Key words: Greenpeace, reduce, plastic waste
  • Paragraph H is about Greenpeace’s message to reduce plastic waste:
    • “Greenpeace said the big six drinks companies had to do more to increase the recycled content of their plastic bottles”. 
  • There is no information about taxing plastic manufactures, cleaning the ocean or the need to stop drinking bottled water. 
    • use more = increase 
    • recycled material ~ recycled content
  • The answer is D.

IELTS Reading British council

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