By 2000, half the recoverable material in Britain’s
dustbins will be recycled – that, at least, was the target
set last November by Chris Patten, Secretary of State
for the Environment. But he gave no clues as to how
we should go about achieving it. While recycling
enthusiasts debate the relative merits of different
collection systems, it will largely be new technology,
and the opening up of new markets, that makes
Patten’s target attainable: a recycling scheme is
successful only if manufacturers use the recovered
materials in new products that people want to buy.
About half, by weight, of the contents of the
typical British dustbin is made up of combustible
materials. These materials comprise 33 per cent paper,
7 per cent plastics (a growing proportion), 4 per cent
textiles and 8 per cent miscellaneous combustibles.
Of the rest, hard non-combustibles (metals and
glass) each make up another 10 per cent, and
‘putrescibles’, such as potato peelings and cabbage
stalks, account for 20 per cent, although this
proportion is decreasing as people eat more
pre-prepared foods. The final fraction is ‘fines’ –
nameless dust. This mixture is useless to industry, and
in Britain most of it is disposed of in landfill sites –
suitable holes, such as worked-out quarries, in which
the waste is buried under layers of soil and clay. That
still leaves about 40 per cent of the mixture – glass
containers, plastics, and some paper and metal
containers – as relatively clean when discarded. This
clean element is the main target for Britain’s recyclers.
The first question, then, is how best to separate
the clean element from the rest. The method of
collection is important because manufacturers will not
reuse collected material unless it is clean and available
in sufficient quantities. A bewildering assortment of
different collection schemes operates in the rest of
Europe, and pilot schemes are now under way in many
British cities including Leeds, Milton Keynes, Sheffield
and Cardiff. Sheffield, Cardiff and Dundee are testing
out alternatives as part of a government-monitored
recycling project initiated last year by Friends of the
A realistic target for recycling mixed refuse is
somewhere between 15 and 25 per cent by weight,
according to researchers at the Department of Trade
and Industry’s Warren Spring Laboratory. This
proportion would include metals and perhaps some
glass. Statistics compiled by researchers at the
University of East Anglia show that we could almost
halve the total weight of domestic waste going to
landfill by a combination of ‘collect’ schemes (such as
doorstep collections for newspapers), ‘bring’ schemes
(such as bottle banks) and plants for extracting metals.
【Group】28. In paragraph 1, the writer suggests that the
Secretary of State for the Environment has:
(A) created an impossible target.
(B) provided a target without a method.
(C)given clear details of how to achieve a target.
(D)given manufacturers a target to aim for.