20 November 2017 Greenpeace have called plastic waste in our seas and environment ‘a global emergency’ and now the UK government is to look for evidence whether a tax on single-use plastics (like take-away food boxes) would help. The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is likely to announce this in his budget speech to parliament on Wednesday. The government is already considering a plan to encourage the return of plastic bottles, which can be recycled, using a ‘reward and return’ scheme. However, this new plan might involve a tax on single-use plastics to discourage their use. According to the Treasury, the single-use plastic wasted every year in the UK would fill London's Royal Albert Hall 1,000 times. They have also pointed to the 5p charge for carrier bags to show how successful this might be. Plastic waste is a serious threat to birds, sea mammals and turtles. Sue Kinsey, senior pollution policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society, describes plastic as a "complete menace". She said, "It takes a long time to break down and it's almost indigestible if animals eat it. "The real danger is that animals are starving to death with stomachs full of plastic." Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said the move "recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution."
Questions What problems is plastic waste causing? Has the government in Britain decided to tax plastic food containers? Do you think they should? Why/Why not?
Vocabulary Highlight text for definitions waste – rubbish, things we throw away environment – the world around us evidence – proof, reasons for believing something Chancellor of the Exchequer – the UK’s finance minister Budget speech – the government’s spending plans announced parliament – the meeting place for the British government and opposition to encourage – to make something likely to happen to discourage - to make something less likely to happen indigestible – cannot be processed in the stomach to starve – to die because you have not eaten
Grammar Uncertainty – which words in the paragraph indicate certainty and uncertainty. What is the function of ‘however’? The government is already considering a plan to encourage the return of plastic bottles, which can be recycled, using a ‘reward and return’ scheme. However, this new plan might involve a tax on single-use plastics to discourage their use. Highlight below for solution. ‘Already considering’ indicates that this plan is more certain; ‘might’ in the second sentence indicates uncertainty. ‘However’, tells us that a contrasting idea is being introduced.