The Reading / Listening - Biodegradable Plastic - Level 6

Plastic has been a blight on the landscape and a deadly threat to wildlife for decades. Environmentalists have issued many pleas for us to reduce the amount of plastic we use or switch to biodegradable alternatives. One solution to this problem may be at hand. Scientists have developed a form of biodegradable plastic. This means that the billions of plastic bags, cups, straws and utensils that we dispose of each day could be "compostable" - they could decompose and break down as naturally as organic waste. The scientists are from the University of California, Berkeley. They say they have invented a plastic that could break down within a few weeks, rather than centuries, using just heat and water.



The new, biodegradable product involves embedding polyester-eating enzymes into the plastic during the production process. When these enzymes are exposed to heat and water, they eat away at the plastic and reduce it to lactic acid. This provides nutrients for the soil when composted. Professor Ting Xu said up to 98 per cent of the plastic her team made degraded into small molecules. She said: "We are basically saying that we are on the right track. We can solve this continuing problem of single-use plastics." She added: "Look at all the wasted stuff we throw away - clothing, shoes, electronics like cellphones and computers. We are taking things from the earth at a faster rate than we can return them."

Try the same news story at these easier levels:

    Biodegradable Plastic - Level 4  or  Biodegradable Plastic - Level 5

Sources
  • https://phys.org/news/2021-04-biodegradable-plastics-compostable.html
  • https://www.sciencenews.org/article/plastic-compost-new-enzyme-technique-biodegradable
  • https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2021-04-22/biodegradable-plastic-compost-enzymes-environment-soil-green/100082958


Make sure you try all of the online activities for this reading and listening - There are dictations, multiple choice, drag and drop activities, crosswords, hangman, flash cards, matching activities and a whole lot more. Please enjoy :-)



Warm-ups

1. BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC: Students walk around the class and talk to other students about biodegradable plastic. Change partners often and share your findings.
2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, talk about these topics or words from the article. What will the article say about them? What can you say about these words and your life?
       plastic / blight / landscape / environmentalist / alternatives / straw / organic / heat /
       product / polyester / enzymes / nutrients / molecules / single-use plastics / electronics
Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.
3. PLASTIC TAX: Students A strongly believe there should be a heavy tax on plastic; Students B strongly believe the opposite. Change partners again and talk about your conversations.
4. ALTERNATIVES: What could we use instead of plastic for these things? Would this be better? Complete this table with your partner(s). Change partners often and share what you wrote.

 

Alternative

Better?

Bags

 

 

Straws

 

 

Bottles

 

 

Utensils

 

 

Pens

 

 

Furniture

 

 

MY e-BOOK
ESL resource book with copiable worksheets and handouts - 1,000 Ideas and Activities for Language Teachers / English teachers
See a sample

5. WILDLIFE: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word "wildlife". Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.
6. WASTED STUFF: Rank these with your partner. Put the things we should never throw away at the top. Change partners often and share your rankings.

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Cellphones
  • Computers
  • Books
  • Bicycles
  • Carpets
  • Newspapers

 

Vocabulary

    Paragraph 1

      1. blight a. A period of ten years.
      2. decade b. One or more things available as another possibility.
      3. plea c. Material that is not wanted.
      4. alternative d. A request made in an urgent and emotional manner.
      5. utensils e. Make or become rotten; decay or cause to decay.
      6. decompose f. A thing that spoils or damages something.
      7. waste g. A thing, container, or other article, especially for household use.

    Paragraph 2

      8. polyester h. A substance produced by a living organisms which bring about a specific biochemical reaction.
      9. enzyme i. Leave something uncovered or unprotected, especially from the weather.
      10. exposed j. Things we use that have transistors or microchips in them.
      11. nutrients k. The upper layer of earth in which plants grow.
      12. soil l. Substances that provide nourishment essential for growth and life.
      13. on the right track m. A synthetic resin used to make plastic.
      14. electronics n. Going in the right direction or doing the right things to be successful.

 

Before reading / listening

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if 1-8 below are true (T) or false (F).

  1. The article says plastic is very bright in the landscape.     T / F
  2. The article says scientists have several solutions for plastic.     T / F
  3. The scientists said the plastic they created could be compostable.     T / F
  4. The new biodegradable plastic could take weeks to decompose.     T / F
  5. The new plastic contains enzyme-eating polyester.     T / F
  6. The new plastic biodegrades into lactic acid and feeds the soil.     T / F
  7. A professor said her team are on the left track.     T / F
  8. A professor said we are taking things from Earth at a slower rate.     T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

  1. blight
  2. pleas
  3. switch
  4. dispose of
  5. break down
  6. embedding
  7. exposed
  8. solve
  9. wasted
  10. rate
  1. figure out
  2. throw away
  3. implanting
  4. requests
  5. pace
  6. nuisance
  7. squandered
  8. decompose
  9. change
  10. introduced

3. PHRASE MATCH: (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

  1. Plastic has been a blight
  2. a deadly threat to
  3. switch to biodegradable
  4. the billions of plastic bags, cups, straws
  5. break down as naturally as organic
  6. embedding polyester-eating
  7. When these enzymes are exposed
  8. This provides nutrients
  9. we are on the right
  10. all the wasted
  1. enzymes
  2. waste
  3. track
  4. wildlife for decades
  5. to heat and water
  6. on the landscape
  7. stuff we throw away
  8. and utensils
  9. for the soil
  10. alternatives

Gap fill

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
alternatives
utensils
centuries
landscape
hand
invented
pleas
waste

Plastic has been a blight on the (1) _____________________ and a deadly threat to wildlife for decades. Environmentalists have issued many (2) _____________________ for us to reduce the amount of plastic we use or switch to biodegradable (3) ___________________. One solution to this problem may be at (4) _____________________. Scientists have developed a form of biodegradable plastic. This means that the billions of plastic bags, cups, straws and (5) _____________________ that we dispose of each day could be "compostable" - they could decompose and break down as naturally as organic (6) _____________________. The scientists are from the University of California, Berkeley. They say they have (7) _____________________ a plastic that could break down within a few weeks, rather than (8) _____________________, using just heat and water.

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
rate
process
basically
embedding
electronics
composted
single
reduce

The new, biodegradable product involves (9) _____________________ polyester-eating enzymes into the plastic during the production (10) _____________________. When these enzymes are exposed to heat and water, they eat away at the plastic and (11) _____________________ it to lactic acid. This provides nutrients for the soil when (12) _____________________. Professor Ting Xu said up to 98 per cent of the plastic her team made degraded into small molecules. She said: "We are (13) _____________________ saying that we are on the right track. We can solve this continuing problem of (14) _____________________ -use plastics." She added: "Look at all the wasted stuff we throw away - clothing, shoes, (15) _____________________ like cellphones and computers. We are taking things from the earth at a faster (16) _____________________ than we can return them."

Listening — Guess the answers. Listen to check.

1)  Plastic has been a blight on the landscape and a deadly threat to ______
     a.  wildlife for decadence
     b.  wildlife for decants
     c.  wildlife for arcades
     d.  wildlife for decades
2)  reduce the amount of plastic we use or switch to ______
     a.  biodegradable alternatively
     b.  biodegradable alter natives
     c.  biodegradable alternatives
     d.  biodegradable all the natives
3)  One solution to this problem may ______
     a.  be at head
     b.  be at hand
     c.  be at hard
     d.  be at heart
4)  the billions of plastic bags, cups, ______
     a.  straws and you tensile
     b.  straws and your pencils
     c.  straws and your tonsils
     d.  straws and utensils
5)  a plastic that could break down within a few weeks, ______
     a.  rather than centuries
     b.  lather that century
     c.  rather that century
     d.  lather than centuries

6)  The new, biodegradable product involves embedding polyester-______
     a.  eat in enzymes
     b.  eat tin enzymes
     c.  eating enzymes
     d.  e-thing enzymes
7) Xu said up to 98 per cent of the plastic her team made degraded ______
     a.  into small mole cues
     b.  into small Molly cues
     c.  into small molecules
     d.  into small cuticles
8)  We can solve this continuing problem of ______
     a.  single-user plastics
     b.  single-used plastics
     c.  single-uses plastics
     d.  single-use plastics
9)  all the wasted stuff we throw away - clothing, shoes, ______
     a.  electronics alike cellphones
     b.  electronics like cellphones
     c.  electronics liked cellphones
     d.  electronics likes cellphones
10)  We are taking things from the earth at a faster rate than we ______
     a.  can't adjourn them
     b.  can adjourn them
     c.  can return them
     d.  can lantern them

Listening — Listen and fill in the gaps

Plastic has been (1) ____________________ the landscape and a deadly threat to wildlife for decades. Environmentalists have issued (2) ____________________ us to reduce the amount of plastic we use or switch to biodegradable alternatives. One solution to this problem may (3) ____________________. Scientists have developed a form of biodegradable plastic. This means that the billions of plastic bags, cups, (4) ____________________ that we dispose of each day could be "compostable" - they could decompose and break down as naturally (5) ____________________. The scientists are from the University of California, Berkeley. They say they have invented a plastic that could break down within a few weeks, (6) ____________________, using just heat and water.

The new, biodegradable (7) ____________________ polyester-eating enzymes into the plastic during the production process. When these (8) ____________________ to heat and water, they eat away at the plastic and reduce it to lactic acid. This provides (9) ____________________ soil when composted. Professor Ting Xu said up to 98 per cent of the plastic her team made degraded (10) ____________________. She said: "We are basically saying that we are on the right track. We can solve this continuing problem of single-use plastics." She added: "Look at all (11) ____________________ we throw away - clothing, shoes, electronics like cellphones and computers. We are taking things from the earth at (12) ____________________ than we can return them."

Comprehension questions

  1. What does the article say plastic has been a blight on?
  2. What does the article say we could switch to?
  3. What could the new plastic break down as naturally as?
  4. Where are the scientists from?
  5. How long might the plastic take to biodegrade?
  6. What has been embedded in the new plastic?
  7. What does the new plastic become after it decomposes?
  8. How much of the teams plastic degraded into small molecules?
  9. What kind of track did a professor say her team was on?
  10. Where did a professor say we are taking things from?




Multiple choice quiz

1) What does the article say plastic has been a blight on?
a) research
b) wildlife
c) the landscape
d) decades
2) What does the article say we could switch to?
a) biodegradable alternatives
b) recyclable packaging
c) sustainable energy
d) single-use plastics
3) What could the new plastic break down as naturally as?
a) enzymes
b) paper
c) polymers
d) organic waste
4) Where are the scientists from?
a) New York University
b) the University of California
c) MIT
d) Yale
5) How long might the plastic take to biodegrade?
a) a few years
b) months
c) weeks
d) a decade or two

6) What has been embedded in the new plastic?
a) an MP3 file
b) polyester-eating enzymes
c) code
d) plastic-dissolving nutrients
7) What does the new plastic become after it decomposes?
a) nitric acid
b) citric acid
c) amino acid
d) lactic acid
8) How much of the teams plastic degraded into small molecules?
a) exactly 98%
b) up to 98%
c) around 98%
d) just over 98%
9) What kind of track did a professor say her team was on?
a) the right track
b) a deep track
c) an off-the-beaten track
d) a fast track
10) Where did a professor say we are taking things from?
a) enzymes
b) soil
c) compost
d) the earth

Role play

Role  A – Clothing
You think clothing is top of the list of things never to throw away. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them why it is OK to throw their things away. Also, tell the others which of these  is top of the list of things that can be disposed of (and why): computers, books or bicycles.

Role  B – Computers
You think computers are top of the list of things never to throw away. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them why it is OK to throw their things away. Also, tell the others which of these  is top of the list of things that can be disposed of (and why): clothing, books or bicycles.

Role  C – Books
You think books are top of the list of things never to throw away. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them why it is OK to throw their things away. Also, tell the others which of these  is top of the list of things that can be disposed of (and why): computers, clothing or bicycles.

Role  D – Bicycles
You think bicycles are top of the list of things never to throw away. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them why it is OK to throw their things away. Also, tell the others which of these  is top of the list of things that can be disposed of (and why): computers, books or clothing.

After reading / listening

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words...

'biodegradable'

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • and 'plastic'.

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • • Share your findings with your partners.

    • Make questions using the words you found.

    • Ask your partner / group your questions.

    2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

    •Share your questions with other classmates / groups. •Ask your partner / group your questions.

    3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

    4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

    5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

    • blight
    • switch
    • form
    • billions
    • waste
    • weeks
    • involves
    • exposed
    • soil
    • small
    • solve
    • rate




    Student survey

    Write five GOOD questions about this topic in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper. When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

    (Please look at page 12 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

    Discussion - Biodegradable Plastic

    STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

    1. What did you think when you read the headline?
    2. What images are in your mind when you hear the word 'biodegradable'?
    3. What do you think of plastic?
    4. How do you feel when you see plastic waste in the countryside?
    5. What damage is plastic doing to Earth?
    6. How do you dispose of plastic?
    7. How could you switch to alternatives to plastic?
    8. What do you think of compostable plastic?
    9. Do we need the plastic stuff around us right now to be made of plastic?
    10. How good are you at recycling?

    STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

    1. Did you like reading this article? Why/not?
    2. What do you think of when you hear the word 'plastic'?
    3. What do you think about what you read?
    4. How beneficial would biodegradable plastic be?
    5. How is plastic made?
    6. What do you think of single-use plastics?
    7. How can we get all governments to focus on reducing plastic use?
    8. What photos have you seen of plastic harming wildlife?
    9. Should governments introduce a plastic tax?
    10. What questions would you like to ask the scientists?

    Discussion — Write your own questions

    STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

    (a) ________________

    (b) ________________

    (c) ________________

    (d) ________________

    (e) ________________

    STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

    (f) ________________

    (g) ________________

    (h) ________________

    (i) ________________

    (j) ________________





    Language — Cloze (Gap-fill)

    Plastic has been a (1) ____ on the landscape and a deadly threat to wildlife for decades. Environmentalists have issued many (2) ____ for us to reduce the amount of plastic we use or switch (3) ____ biodegradable alternatives. One solution to this problem may be at (4) ____. Scientists have developed a form of biodegradable plastic. This means that the billions of plastic bags, cups, straws and utensils that we dispose of each day could be "compostable" - they could decompose and break down as naturally as (5) ____ waste. The scientists are from the University of California, Berkeley. They say they have invented a plastic that could break down (6) ____ a few weeks, rather than centuries, using just heat and water.

    The new, biodegradable product involves (7) ____ polyester-eating enzymes into the plastic during the production process. When these enzymes are exposed to heat and water, they eat (8) ____ at the plastic and reduce it to lactic acid. This provides nutrients for the soil when composted. Professor Ting Xu said up to 98 per cent of the plastic her team made degraded into small molecules. She said: "We are (9) ____ saying that we are on the right track. We can solve this continuing problem of single-(10) ____ plastics." She added: "Look at all the wasted (11) ____ we throw away - clothing, shoes, electronics like cellphones and computers. We are taking things from the earth (12) ____ a faster rate than we can return them."

    Which of these words go in the above text?

    1. (a)     bright     (b)     blight     (c)     bite     (d)     bait    
    2. (a)     peas     (b)     pleas     (c)     plies     (d)     please    
    3. (a)     as     (b)     of     (c)     by     (d)     to    
    4. (a)     head     (b)     hand     (c)     heart     (d)     hip    
    5. (a)     ogre     (b)     origin     (c)     organ     (d)     organic    
    6. (a)     wither     (b)     with     (c)     within     (d)     without    
    7. (a)     embedding     (b)     imbibing     (c)     subduing     (d)     inducing    
    8. (a)     of     (b)     around     (c)     away     (d)     out    
    9. (a)     base     (b)     basic     (c)     basics     (d)     basically    
    10. (a)     use     (b)     useful     (c)     used     (d)     user    
    11. (a)     stuff     (b)     staff     (c)     stiff     (d)     strafe    
    12. (a)     at     (b)     on     (c)     as     (d)     per

    Spelling

    Paragraph 1

    1. Plastic has been a ilhbtg on the landscape
    2. switch to biodegradable arenltiteavs
    3. plastic bags, cups, straws and iuesstnl
    4. could be copmlbsoeta
    5. they could mcopodees and break down
    6. a few weeks, rather than uestcrein

    Paragraph 2

    1. involves embedding polyester-eating yneemsz
    2. during the production ceporss
    3. eedsoxp to heat and water
    4. This provides nitteusnr for the soil
    5. degraded into small loelmuecs
    6. srnceciloet like cellphones and computers

    Put the text back together

    (...)      pleas for us to reduce the amount of plastic we use or switch to biodegradable
    (...)      to lactic acid . This provides nutrients for the soil when composted . Professor Ting Xu said up to 98 per cent of the plastic her
    (...)  and computers . We are taking things from the earth at a faster rate than we can return them ."
    (...)      the production process . When these enzymes are exposed to heat and water, they eat away at the plastic and reduce it
    (...)  down as naturally as organic waste . The scientists are from the University of California, Berkeley . They say they have
    (...)      team made degraded into small molecules . She said: "We are basically saying that we are on the right
    1  ) Plastic has been a blight on the landscape and a deadly threat to wildlife for decades . Environmentalists have issued many
    (...)  alternatives . One solution to this problem may be at hand . Scientists have developed a form
    (...)  The new, biodegradable product involves embedding polyester-eating enzymes into the plastic during
    (...)  track . We can solve this continuing problem of single-use plastics ." She added: "Look
    (...)  dispose of each day could be "compostable" - they could decompose and break
    (...)  invented a plastic that could break down within a few weeks, rather than centuries, using just heat and water .
    (...)  at all the wasted stuff we throw away - clothing, shoes, electronics like cellphones
    (...)  of biodegradable plastic . This means that the billions of plastic bags, cups, straws and utensils that we

    Put the words in the right order

    1. blight   the   has   on   been   Plastic   a   landscape   .
    2. to   deadly   threat   for   A   wildlife   decades   .
    3. to   use   .   amount   of   plastic   the   Pleas   reduce
    4. as   down   waste   .   Break   organic   as   naturally
    5. say   invented   They   plastic   .   they   have   a
    6. to   exposed   enzymes   these   When   heat   .   are
    7. for   when   composted   .   soil   the   nutrients   provides   This
    8. track   .   on   we're   We're   saying   basically   the   right
    9. earth   .   the   are   taking   We   from   things
    10. return   faster   than   we   A   rate   can   them   .

    Circle the correct word (20 pairs)

    Plastic has been a blight / bright on the landscape and a deadly threat to wildlife for decades. Environmentalists have issued many please / pleas for us to reduce the amount of plastic we use or switch / twitch to biodegradable alternatives. One solution to this problem may be at band / hand. Scientists have developed a frame / form of biodegradable plastic. This means that the billions of plastic bags, cups, straws and utensils / utensil that we dispose of / to each day could be "compostable" - they could decompose and break down as naturally as organically / organic waste. The scientists are from the University of California, Berkeley. They say they have invented a plastic that could break down within / wither a few weeks, rather than centuries, using justly / just heat and water.

    The new, biodegradable product revolves / involves embedding polyester-eating enzymes into the plastic during the production process / progress. When these enzymes are exposed of / to heat and water, they eat away at the plastic and reduce them / it to lactic acid. This provides nutrients for the soil when composted. Professor Ting Xu said up to 98 per cent of the plastic her team made degraded onto / into small molecules. She said: "We are basically saying that we are on the right / left track. We can solve this continuing problem of single-user / single-use plastics." She added: "Look at all the wasted stuff we thrown / throw away - clothing, shoes, electronics / electrical like cellphones and computers. We are taking things from the earth at / to a faster rate than we can return them."

    Talk about the connection between each pair of words in italics, and why the correct word is correct.

    Insert the vowels (a, e, i, o, u)

    Pl_st_c  h_s  b__n  _  bl_ght  _n  th_  l _nd s c_p _ _nd  _  d__dly  thr__t  t_  w_ldl_f_  f_r  d_c_d_s.  _nv_r_nm_nt_l_sts  h_v_  _ss__d  m_ny  pl__s  f_r  _s  t_  r_d_c_  th_  _m__nt  _f  pl_st_c  w_  _s_  _r  sw_tch  t_  b__d_gr_d_bl_  _lt_rn_t_v_s.  _n_  s_l_t__n  t_  th_s  pr_bl_m  m_y  b_  _t  h_nd.  Sc__nt_sts  h_v_  d_v_l_p_d  _  f_rm  _f  b__d_gr_d_bl_  pl_st_c.  Th_s  m__ns  th_t  th_  b_ll__ns  _f  pl_st_c  b_gs,  c_ps,  str_ws  _nd  _t_ns_ls  th_t  w_  d_sp_s_  _f  __ch  d_y  c__ld  b_  "c_mp_st_bl_"  -  th_y  c__ld  d_c_mp_s_  _nd  br__k  d_wn  _s  n_t_r_lly  _s  _rg_n_c  w_st_.  Th_  sc__nt_sts  _r_  fr_m  th_  _n_v_rs_ty  _f  C_l_f_rn__,  B_rk_l_y.  Th_y  s_y  th_y  h_v_  _nv_nt_d  _  pl_st_c  th_t  c__ld  br__k  d_wn  w_th_n  _  f_w  w__ks,  r_th_r  th_n  c_nt_r__s,  _s_ng  j_st  h__t  _nd  w_t_r.

    Th_  n_w,  b__d_gr_d_bl_  pr_d_ct  _nv_lv_s  _mb_dd_ng  p_ly_st_r-__t_ng  _nzym_s  _nt_  th_  pl_st_c  d_r_ng  th_  pr_d_ct__n  pr_c_ss.  Wh_n  th_s_  _nzym_s  _r_  _xp_s_d  t_  h__t  _nd  w_t_r,  th_y  __t  _w_y  _t  th_  pl_st_c  _nd  r_d_c_  _t  t_  l_ct_c  _c_d.  Th_s  pr_v_d_s  n_tr__nts  f_r  th_  s__l  wh_n  c_mp_st_d.  Pr_f_ss_r  T_ng  X_  s__d  _p  t_  98  p_r  c_nt  _f  th_  pl_st_c  h_r  t__m  m_d_  d_gr_d_d  _nt_  sm_ll  m_l_c_l_s.  Sh_  s__d:  "W_  _r_  b_s_c_lly  s_y_ng  th_t  w_  _r_  _n  th_  r_ght  tr_ck.  W_  c_n  s_lv_  th_s  c_nt_n__ng  pr_bl_m  _f  s_ngl_-_s_  pl_st_cs."  Sh_  _dd_d:  "L__k  _t  _ll  th_  w_st_d  st_ff  w_  thr_w  _w_y  -  cl_th_ng,  sh__s,  _l_ctr_n_cs  l_k_  c_llph_n_s  _nd  c_mp_t_rs.  W_  _r_  t_k_ng  th_ngs  fr_m  th_  __rth  _t  _  f_st_r  r_t_  th_n  w_  c_n  r_t_rn  th_m."

    Punctuate the text and add capitals

    plastic has been a blight on the landscape and a deadly threat to wildlife for decades environmentalists have issued many pleas for us to reduce the amount of plastic we use or switch to biodegradable alternatives one solution to this problem may be at hand scientists have developed a form of biodegradable plastic this means that the billions of plastic bags cups straws and utensils that we dispose of each day could be compostable  they could decompose and break down as naturally as organic waste the scientists are from the university of california berkeley they say they have invented a plastic that could break down within a few weeks rather than centuries using just heat and water

    the new biodegradable product involves embedding polyestereating enzymes into the plastic during the production process when these enzymes are exposed to heat and water they eat away at the plastic and reduce it to lactic acid this provides nutrients for the soil when composted professor ting xu said up to 98 per cent of the plastic her team made degraded into small molecules she said we are basically saying that we are on the right track we can solve this continuing problem of singleuse plastics she added look at all the wasted stuff we throw away  clothing shoes electronics like cellphones and computers we are taking things from the earth at a faster rate than we can return them

    Put a slash (/) where the spaces are

    Plastichasbeenablightonthelandscapeandadeadlythreattowildlifefor
    decades.Environmentalistshaveissuedmanypleasforustoreducethe
    amountofplasticweuseorswitchtobiodegradablealternatives.Onesol
    utiontothisproblemmaybeathand.Scientistshavedevelopedaformof
    biodegradableplastic.Thismeansthatthebillionsofplasticbags,cups,s
    trawsandutensilsthatwedisposeofeachdaycouldbe"compostable"-
    theycoulddecomposeandbreakdownasnaturallyasorganicwaste.Th
    escientistsarefromtheUniversityofCalifornia,Berkeley.Theysaythey
    haveinventedaplasticthatcouldbreakdownwithinafewweeks,rathert
    hancenturies,usingjustheatandwater.Thenew,biodegradableprodu
    ctinvolvesembeddingpolyester-eatingenzymesintotheplasticdurin
    gtheproductionprocess.Whentheseenzymesareexposedtoheatand
    water,theyeatawayattheplasticandreduceittolacticacid.Thisprovide
    snutrientsforthesoilwhencomposted.ProfessorTingXusaidupto98pe
    rcentoftheplasticherteammadedegradedintosmallmolecules.Shesai
    d:"Wearebasicallysayingthatweareontherighttrack.Wecansolvethis
    continuingproblemofsingle-useplastics."Sheadded:"Lookatallthew
    astedstuffwethrowaway-clothing,shoes,electronicslikecellphones
    andcomputers.Wearetakingthingsfromtheearthatafasterratethanw
    ecanreturnthem."

    Free writing

    Write about biodegradable plastic for 10 minutes. Comment on your partner’s paper.

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    Academic writing

    We should all pay a big tax for products made of plastic. Discuss.

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    Homework

    1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google's search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.
    2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about this news story. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.
    3. BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC: Make a poster about biodegradable plastic. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?
    4. PLASTIC TAX: Write a magazine article about introducing a big plastic tax on all products made from plastic. Include imaginary interviews with people who are for and against this.
    Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).
    5. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Write a newspaper article about the next stage in this news story. Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Give each other feedback on your articles.
    6. LETTER: Write a letter to an expert on biodegradable plastic. Ask him/her three questions about it. Give him/her three of your ideas on how to reduce plastic use. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

    Answers

    (Please look at page 26 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

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