There are many interesting news items in BP’s(英国石油公司) annual Energy Outlook just published. But perhaps the most astonishing suggestion in the report is the idea that cutting back on plastic use could make matters worse. This might be what you would expect BP to say. After all, as one of the world’s biggest oil companies, it makes a lot of money from selling products in plastic. But let’s look at the thinking behind BP’s argument.
If the current opposing idea about the use of plastic continues, there could be a worldwide ban on single-use plastics by 2040. But the document argues that switching plastic for other materials will have a bigger cost in terms of energy and carbon emissions(排放). That sounds like the law of unintended(非故意的) consequences in action. When plastic bags are measured against paper or cotton substitutes, a BBC analysis found there wasn’t a great deal of difference in their environmental impact. Paper bags require fewer reuses to make them more environmentally friendly than single-use plastic bags, which means customers have to replace paper bags more frequently.
Environmentalists, though, are not entirely convinced. They think that BP is stressing the problem of banning plastic for its own interest. While it’s true that it takes less energy to produce and transport plastic than glass, a glass bottle can be reused dozens of times and is recyclable. Plus, materials like glass when they escape collection don’t go on polluting our oceans and rivers for hundreds of years, said Louise Edge, from Greenpeace UK.
Steps to encourage recycling are being taken. The UK, for example, will introduce a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging in 2022. There are also lots of developments taking place with alternative materials. These may be the final defense against the unintended consequences of plastic bans.
Which of the following could be banned worldwide by 2040?
A. Second-hand cotton begs.
B. Reusable paper bags.
C. Single-use plastic bags.
D. Recyclable glass bottles.