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Unit 6    Mainly Revision

Lesson 22    DEALING WITH WASTE

How to get rid of waste is a great problem for the world today. Waste must be treated so that it does not become a danger to life. Unfortunately, in some countries waste from factories is still poured straight into rivers. People who use the water from one of these rivers often get sick. The water may become so polluted that it kills all the fish in the river. When this river finally reaches the sea, it pollutes the ocean.

In many countries with sea coasts, human waste is piped directly into the sea without being treated. This is unsafe. Although the sea breaks up the waste, beaches may become polluted and fish may not be safe to eat. A better method is to take the waste far out to sea in ships where the wind and waves break it down.

In 1989 an international law was passed to stop people putting waste into the sea. It is now against the law to throw anything into the sea within 5 kilometres of land. Plastics and other similar rubbish that does not break down may not be thrown into the sea anywhere. Other waste may be thrown into the sea, either 19 kilometres from land, or more than 40 kilometres from land, depending on the nature of the materials.

Some dangerous waste is still put into metal containers and thrown into the deep sea. It will be many years before the chemicals start to escape from the containers. At the bottom of the ocean there is very little life and very little movement of the water. It is therefore unlikely that the chemicals will be carried upwards into the water where fish are found. At one time, certain types of radioactive waste were put in the sea in metal containers. Now, however, all radioactive waste must be stored on land.

The problem of dealing with waste has become so great that several international organizations, such as "Friends of the Earth" have been set up to protect the world and to fight against pollution. They seek to reduce waste, protect the earth, the oceans and all forms of life in them.

Recently, China has made special laws to deal with waste and control pollution. She has also been very active in protecting the environment.

HE THROW-AWAY SOCIETY

In western countries, mountains of rubbish are thrown away each day. This causes many problems. First, areas of land must be found where this rubbish can be put. This is a particular problem for large cities. Second, much energy is wasted producing things that are thrown away.

In China, rubbish, such as used plastic bags and boxes known as "white pollution" is becoming a serious problem. Many lakes and rivers are polluted by the wastes from factories. As the wealth of the country increases, more waste will be produced. If everyone in the country bought one soft-drink can each day and threw it away, there would soon be a huge mountain of rubbish.

Here is a game to play. The table below shows how much rubbish is thrown away in Britain every year. Imagine that China threw away as much rubbish as a country like Britain. China is 22 times larger than Britain. So, multiply the total for Britain by 22 (x 22). This will show you how much rubbish China would throw away each year.

Lesson 23     RECYCLING WASTE

European countries are now making an active effort to reuse materials more than they used to. This is called recycling. Materials such as paper, glass or metal are collected, sorted, treated and used again. Old newspapers are recycled. The ink is taken out by a special technique, and new paper is made. Oil from factories and motor oil can be treated and reused. In many cities in Europe rubbish is collected separately. Empty glass bottles are collected, and the glass is broken and reused for making new bottles.

Developing countries all over the world already recycle materials. In India, waste paper is collected, sorted, and recycled. Paper bags are made from unsold newspapers. In Egypt, waste is collected by rubbish carts and sorted. Leftover food is given to pigs and vegetable matter is put back onto the fields. In some Asian countries, shoes are made from the rubber of old car tyres.

The Chinese government is also working hard against pollution. More than 60,000 small factories which seriously polluted the environment were shut down in 1996. Many materials like used rubber gloves, glass bottles, cans and other containers are treated or recycled. However, no single country can save the environment alone.