北京保鲜膜价格联盟

经济学人 || 不要扔塑料啦

阳光拔节的学习日志2019-01-07 04:41:21

Don't bin plastic.

To solve the polymer problem, look East

Eight out of the top-ten polluters are in developing Asia

勿扔塑料,解决聚合物问题还看东方

十有八九污染物源自东方


IT IS everywhere, as visible as it is vilified. From car parts to crisp packets, plastic has suffused the Earth, and beyond—in 1969 Neil Armstrong planted a nylon Stars and Stripes on the moon. More than 8bn tonnes has been produced since the 1950s, enough to wrap the continents in clingfilm four times over. Only 9% was recycled; 60% was dumped, mostly in landfills, too often in the natural world. Untold tonnes end up as irretrievable ocean flotsam, which sunlight and salt fragment into microscopic pieces that attract toxins and may be gulped by creatures that become seafood.

随处可见的垃圾,自从1969年,阿姆斯特朗,在月球上插上了星条旗,塑料弥漫在整个地球上,从汽车零部件到薯片包装袋。自从19世纪50年代,地球上生产了超过80亿吨的塑料,这足以用保鲜膜将大陆缠绕四次之多。其中,只有9%被回收,而60%被丢弃。大多是在垃圾填埋场,大多时候是丢弃在自然环境里。这些无法估算的数亿吨垃圾,漂流在到海流中, 不可回收。海洋中的这些漂浮物,通过阳光和海盐的分解,分解成极小的碎片,这些碎片,含有毒质物了,并且很有可能被海洋生物吞食,而最终以海鲜的形式出现在我们的餐桌上。


vilify 诽谤中伤;

suffuse 弥漫不满;

Stars and Stripes 条纹的意思,就是星条旗;

clingfilm 保鲜膜,有胶卷;

landfill 垃圾填埋;

irretrievable 无法挽救的;无法弥补的;

flotsam 漂流物,废料;

fragment(使)支离破碎;打碎;(使)分裂;

microscopic 极小的;

gulp 狼吞虎咽


Plastic weighs heavily on the mind, too. Nine in ten Europeans worry about its impact on ecosystems; three in four fret that it can harm their own health. In Britain hatred of plastic unites the right-wing Daily Mail, the leftie Guardian, and the queen, who has banned plastic straws from her castles. But hold on, the little scientists know about plastic suggests that although it is the most noticeable pollutant, it is far from the most harmful. Using less is at best a partial solution. A better answer is to collect more—especially in Asia.

塑料问题一直是人们所关心的问题,9/10的欧洲人都担忧塑料污染对于生态环境的影响,3/4的人担心塑料会危害人类自身的健康。在英国,对塑料的憎恨团结了右翼Daily Mail,左翼《卫报》,以及英国女王,她已经禁止在城堡中使用塑料吸管。不仅这些,科学家对塑料些许了解表明即使塑料是最显而易见的污染物,但是这不是最有害的。越少使用塑料是部分解决方案,更好的是,如何回收这些塑料垃圾,尤其是在亚洲。


weigh 使烦恼;使忧虑

weigh on somebody/something 让人担忧

The desire for peace will weigh heavily on the negotiators.

I'm sure there's something weighing on his mind.


fret发愁,担忧

She's always fretting about the children.


Rubbish data

The effects of plastic on nature and human health are hard to gauge. Most polymers are chemically inert. That makes them durable. It also makes them less likely to be a health risk to humans and beasts. As a pollutant, their impact is much lower than less tangible menaces. By one estimate, the environmental and social costs of plastic run to $139bn a year, chiefly from the greenhouse gases produced in its production and transport. The figure for farming is $3trn. Fertiliser run-off alone causes $200bn-800bn worth of damage to the ocean, compared with $13bn from plastic marine litter. Then look at the alternatives. A cotton tote bag must be used 131 times before its carbon footprint improves on that of a throwaway carrier bag.

塑料对大自然和人类健康的影响是很难预估。大多聚合物的化学属性的是不活泼的、惰性的,这使得这些聚合物持久性强,这也使得塑料不太可能对人类和动物的健康造成危险。作为一个污染物,他们的影响,要比其他看得见摸得着的危害小的多。据估计,塑料的环境和社会成本可达每年1390亿美元,主要来自生产和运输的温室气体。而农业所产生的数字是3万亿美元。流入到海洋中的化肥,就会引起2000亿到8000亿美元的损害,与此相比,塑料海洋垃圾为130亿美元。再来看一下,塑料的替代物,若想让棉质手提袋的碳排放量优于一次性的塑料袋的话,一个棉质手提袋必须要使用131次。


gauge 测量,

inert 静止的、不活泼的,惰性的,

tangible 看得见,摸得着,

menace 威胁危害,

tote bag 大手提袋,大布包,

carbon footprint 碳排放量。



This does not stop plastic from being a problem. But bans and penalties on plastic bags in rich countries may be better for the conscience than for the environment. Prohibition makes sense in poor places like Bangladesh and Kenya that lack proper waste-management systems. It is less useful in tidy France where rubbish collection works smoothly. It would be more effective for rich countries to shore up their recycling industries. They may have little choice in any case. In January China stopped receiving imports of recyclable plastic waste. Because it took half the total traded around the world, that has left hillocks of the stuff piling up in the West.

这并不意味着塑料就不是一个问题了。在发达国家,对于塑料袋的禁令和处罚,要比只是通过社会道德去约束人们对环境有利得多。在欠发达的国家,如孟加拉和肯亚,禁令很有必要,因为当地缺少恰当的废弃物处理系统;而在法国,垃圾回收系统运转得十分顺畅,禁令就显得效果不明显。对于发达国家来说,垃圾回收业能够持续加强才是非常有效的。在今年1月份,中国停止进口国外可回收垃圾废弃物。这样一来,世界近一半的可回收垃圾因为这项禁令在西方国家堆砌成山。


shore up加强支持,

hillock小山丘,

pile up(使)堆放;(使)堆积;(使)成堆


A carbon tax may spur recycling, which is less energy-intensive than producing virgin plastic.Mandating minimum recycled content in plastic containers, as California has since 1991, is also a useful tool. Governments could exempt second-hand polymers from value-added tax; after all, the tax has already been paid on the fresh source material.

碳税收也可以刺激塑料回收,回收塑料是比使用全新塑料袋更加节约能源的政策。正如在加拿大于1991年发布的政策一样,规定塑料容器最小回收量是一项非常有用的政策。政府可以免除反复使用的塑料聚合物的增值税,毕竟,在第一次使用的时候,已经被征缴了税收。

spur 鼓励,刺激,

mandate 强制执行,

exempt 豁免免除

But by itself, the West will not solve the problem. Among the ten biggest plastic polluters, all but two are in developing Asia. Together, they account for two-thirds of the plastic spewed into the ocean. Of these, only China could afford Western-style waste-management in the near future. Others are just waking up to the problem; before plastic began piling up, it reasonably seemed less of a priority for governments. Bangladesh may be able to copy India which, despite its 1.3bn people, falls outside the top ten thanks to armies of ragpickers. The rest, like Vietnam or Thailand, may be too wealthy for raddiwallahs, yet too poor for sophisticated rubbish collection. The rich world should focus its attention—and resources, including charity—on chivvying them along. That is the surest way to stem the plastic tide.

但是仅仅靠西方国家自身是不能解决这个问题的。在10大的塑料污染源中,有8个是在亚洲的发展中国家。总体来说,流向海洋的塑料有2/3来自发展中国家。在这些国家中,只有中国在不久的将来可以拥有较完善的垃圾处理机制,其他国家才刚刚意识到这个问题,在垃圾成堆之前,国家政府并不认为塑料垃圾问题十分紧迫。孟加拉很可能会照搬印度的措施。尽管印度有13亿人口,但多亏了拾荒者队伍,印度并不是十大塑料垃圾制造国之一。其他国家,如越南和泰国,建立垃圾回收场绰绰有余,但如果建立塑料垃圾回收机制又资金不足。发达世界应该将注意力和资源投注在这些国家,使之加快变革步伐,这是阻止塑料垃圾狂潮来临最切实有效的方法。


spew 喷涌呕吐,

ragpicker 拾荒者

raddiwallah 垃圾回收站

chivvy 一再要求;不断催促

stem 阻止;遏制;制止


This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "Plastic surgery"