“Waste” isn’t actually wasted material. It’s a valuable commodity. By 2025, waste disposers won’t be burying or burning people’s rubbish as they do today. Its central role is not to dump stuff but to return valuable resources to manufacturers. The global market for turning rubbish into power is expected to reach $37.64bn by 2020. The UK produced 11m tonnes of plastic waste in 2017, and recycled around two thirds of it. Or so it seemed. A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows that over half of the UK’s recyclable waste is sent overseas for recycling, but much of it is likely to end up in landfill or the ocean instead. While most of the growth to date is being in thermal technologies, biological technologies can provide a major breakthrough.

This trend points to a new generation of firms using 100% biodegradable feedstock and advanced biotechnologies. One of these can use patented microbes to convert carbon-rich waste into biofuel via a gas fermentation technology. Another can be an enzyme-based solution that converts used cooking oil or other lower grade oils into biodiesel. The most severe hurdle for manufacturers is the recyclability of materials. Recycling sophisticated plastics or other complex materials is a different ballgame. Automating the selection of plastic from paper is one requirement. One third of supermarket plastic cannot easily be recycled at present, and while the pact among retailers is only voluntary, its target is welcome. A plastic is recyclable does not guarantee that it will be recycled. One solution is to limit the types of plastic to a single standard which is easy to recycle. This might mean fewer coloured plastics. A plastic bag with a foil lining or a disposable coffee cup made of paper with a plastic lining. These are especially difficult and expensive to separate.

Identifying one plastic polymer from another is critical too. Smart measuring technology which charges consumers for the food waste they produce could change public attitudes sharpish. Residents are given cards which include a chip holding the name and address of the cardholder. Residents scan their identification card, then dispose of their rubbish in a smart bin with a built-in weighing scale, and are simply billed for the corresponding waste. Responsibility for consumer-related recycling shouldn’t fall entirely on consumer shoulders.

Retailers that sell unrecyclable packaging should also make a change. For instance, the US industry association is providing grants for sorting-facility upgrades to make collecting aseptic and gable top cartons easier. The scheme also sees it provide technical assistance to material recovery facilities, as well as help to develop assured markets for aseptic fibre. The fast food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods sectors must become actively involved in developing consensus on new, state-level producer responsibility mandates or equivalent policies. If brands fail to act then new producer responsibility mandates must be enacted.

Could we just get rid of all plastic packaging? Plastics are not a disposable commodity, they last hundreds of years in our environment. Consumers can take their own reusable containers to shops, and retailers can use more recycled (and recyclable) materials. 2025 is a long way off when plastics are in food chains now. Eliminating single-use materials is possible but it’s going to involve us all in the solution.


  1. FRENETIC/fast and energetic in a rather wild and uncontrolled way
  2. FEVERISH/displaying a frenetic excitement or energy
  3. FRAUGHT/causing great anxiety or stress
  4. FRENZIED/wildly excited or uncontrolled
  5. FRANTIC/wild with fear, anxiety
  6. HECTIC/full of incessant activity
  7. HYSTERICAL/deriving from uncontrolled extreme emotion
  8. PANICKY/feeling uncontrollable fear or anxiety
  9. DISTRAUGHT/deeply upset and agitated.
  10. OVERWROUGHT/in a state of nervous excitement or anxiety
  11. NEUROTIC/abnormally sensitive, obsessive, or tense and anxious
  12. PANAROID/unreasonably or obsessively anxious, suspicious, or mistrustful
  13. MANIC/showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy
  14. MANIACAL/exhibiting or denoting obsessive enthusiasm
  15. DEMONIC/fiercely energetic or frenzied


    1. In a (15) hurry we leave the scene for the police outpost.
    2. He will need a (1) pace of activity after a series of failures.
    3. (14) obsession with conspiracy theories can tell the truth about secret society.
    4. His (13) enthusiasm makes a great point to the team.
    5. I’m too (12) to tell you what is going on without any reason.
    6. Their next couple of weeks spent in a whirl of (2) activity might be a solution.
    7. There was a (3) silence in the room after such an oppressive conflict.
    8. A (4) attack in mass media shows him a scapegoat.
    9. No one could know why he was too (5) with worry.
    10. A (6) business schedule leads him to unexpected success.
    11. (7) laughter explains something mysterious about their surprise.
    12. I started to feel (8) and breathless at the news.
    13. A (9) woman sobbed and screamed for help at the park.
    14. Everyone was (11) about blackmail messages.
    15. She was too (10) to listen to his reason of why he had been away from home by night.



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