Learn English with the News – California Highway Becomes First US State Road Made From Recycled Plastic

While sticking to the norm is a pretty typical M.O. for construction companies, one in California has decided to make a road completely from recycled plastic. Could this be a step towards a greener construction industry, and future with better waste disposal?

The news is a consistent source of entertainment, knowledge and discovery that never ceases to exist and always comes out with more and more material each day. Because it plays such a vital part in our lives and is so important to keep up with, it is without a doubt a piece of your everyday routine that can’t go ignored. 

Whether it is to understand the ramifications of recent legislation passed, to hear about recent events and grasp the potential consequences to your country, or simply hear about what is happening in other countries in order to compare them to what’s happening in yours, the news is certainly a staple in our lives and the most consistent way to get information.

This is why Scrambled Eggs has decided to unite two of your biggest worlds: learning English and keeping up with what is happening in the world. We hope our challenging daily exercises, composed of listening, vocabulary and comprehension exercises in English, will satisfy both of those above worlds in a satisfactory and also entertaining way.

So enough about introductions, let’s get to today’s Learn English with the News topic:

Adapted from this article.

Now that you’ve had a listen, let’s put your knowledge to the test with some of our vocabulary and comprehension exercises:

California Highway Becomes First US State Road Made From Recycled Plastic | Definitions Quiz

Match the word to the correct definition

California Highway Becomes First US State Road Made From Recycled Plastic | Fill In The Blank

Put the following words to the correct definitions.

California Highway Becomes First US State Road Made From Recycled Plastic | True or False

Decide if the statement is true or false

And that’s it for today’s English lesson, where you can improve your English with the news and current events. Do you have any comments or special requests for us for the next edition of Learn English with the News? Be sure to leave any feedback you have in the comments section below, as we would love to help you on your quest to learn the English language!

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Full Text:

 

“It may look like just ordinary paved road, but it’s actually being hailed as the first mile of recycled plastic highway on a state road anywhere in the U.S. Using more than 150,000 single-use plastic bottles, sustainable landscaping company TechniSoil partnered with state transit officials to create the one-mile road with three lanes in July 2020. According to CalTrans (California Department of Transportation), which already has slated the material for use throughout the state, the eco-friendly road formula has been shown to be 2-3 times more durable than traditional asphalt pavement. Not only is the formula more durable, Technisoil officials say the procedure generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than the process currently used by Caltrans. The company says that they have already begun working on launching additional plastic road projects across California. “This process is better for the environment because it keeps plastic bottles out of landfills and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.” The state government has faith in this new system and believes it is an innovative step towards the future. Given that it has stronger features than normal asphalt, it looks like it’s here to stay.”

Plastic pollution will weigh 1.3 billion tonnes by 2040 | Reading Comprehension

An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of plastic is destined for our environment – both on land and in the ocean – by 2040, unless worldwide action is taken. That’s according to a global model of the scale of the plastic problem over the next 20 years.

Dr Costas Velis from the University of Leeds said the number was “staggering” but that we had “the technology and the opportunity to stem the tide“. The report is published in the journal Science.

“This is the first comprehensive assessment of what the picture could be in 20 years’ time,” Dr Velis explained. “It’s difficult to picture an amount that large, but if you could imagine laying out all that plastic across a flat surface, it would cover the area of the UK 1.5 times.

“It’s complex [to calculate] because plastic is everywhere and, in every part of the world, it’s different in terms of how it’s used and dealt with.”

To turn this complex problem into numbers, the researchers tracked the production, use and disposal of plastic around the world. The team then created a model to forecast future plastic pollution. What they called a “business as usual” scenario – based on the current trend of increasing plastic production and no significant change in the amount of reuse and recycling – produced the 1.3 billion tonne estimate.

By adjusting their model, the researchers were able to project how much different interventions would affect that number; they tweaked their model to increase recycling, reduce production and replace plastic with other available materials.

Winnie Lau from the US-based Pew Charitable Trusts, which funded the research, told BBC News that it was vital to put in place every possible solution. “If we do that,” she said, “we can reduce the amount of plastic that goes into the ocean – by 2040 – by 80%.”

Steps the researchers called for included:

  • reducing growth in plastic production and consumption
  • substituting plastic with paper and compostable materials
  • designing products and packaging for recycling
  • expanding waste collection rates in middle/low-income countries and supporting the “informal collection” sector
  • building facilities to dispose of the 23% of plastic that cannot be recycled economically, as a transitional measure
  • reduce plastic waste exports

But even if “all feasible action” was taken, Dr Velis explained, the model showed there would be 710 million extra tonnes of plastic waste in the environment in the next two decades.

There is no “silver bullet solution”, for the plastic problem. But an often overlooked issue that this study highlighted was the fact that an estimated 2 billion people in the Global South have no access to proper waste management. “They have to just get rid of all their rubbish, so they have no choice but to burn or dump it,” said Dr Velis.

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Also, despite playing a major role in reducing global plastic waste, the roughly 11 million waste pickers – people who collect and sell reusable materials in low-income countries – often don’t have basic employment rights and safe working conditions.

Dr Velis said: “Waste pickers are the unsung heroes of recycling – without them the mass of plastic entering the aquatic environment would be considerably greater.” He added that policies to support them and make their work safer were a vital part of solving this problem.

Dr Ian Kane, from the University of Manchester, who was recently part of a team that calculated the amount of micro-plastic in the seabed, described the picture the researchers had painted as “horrifying”.

“The authors are clear that there are large uncertainties in the data and analysis but regardless of the exact figures, the increasing rate of plastic production to meet increasing global demand has pretty dire consequences for the environment,” he told BBC News.

Prof Jamie Woodward, also from the University of Manchester, pointed out the irony in this scenario being laid out during the pandemic.

“Plastic has kept many frontline workers safe through this,” he said. “But PPE waste over the next decade could be horrendous.

“There are parallels with the climate change problem in that business as usual will be disastrous. We need to radically change our behaviour.”

 

 

Thanks for reading! Now try the quizzes below to test your knowledge of the words in bold and the article.

Plastic Pollution | Definitions Quiz

Match the words to the correct definitions

Plastic Pollution | True or False Quiz

Choose if the statement is true or false

Adapted from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53521001