This Part 2 and Part 3 speaking topic is all about the environment and plastic pollution.
IELTS Speaking Part 2: Plastic Waste
IELTS Speaking Part 2: Plastic
Describe a time when you saw a lot of plastic waste. You should say
- where and when you saw it
- why there was a lot of plastic
- what you did when you saw it
- and explain how you felt about this.
Speaking Part 2: Possible Answers
- I saw a lot of plastic waste on the beach at Khanom a few weeks ago. Its common at this time of year, the monsoon season, but there were particularly high seas which brought in waste, mostly plastic, up to a metre deep in places.
- This plastic comes mostly from landfill sites. Sometimes it is dumped incorrectly and strong winds blow it into the sea. Also, a lot comes down the rivers and into the sea that way. Not much seems to get recycled or reused.
- To be honest I didn’t do much when I first saw it. We kind of get used to seeing it here during the monsoon season. Some people went out when the storm died off to do collections, but it really needed the local councils to get involved with heavy machinery. We really need tractors and trucks, there is that much of it after a storm!
- It’s great that people help, but why is it there in the first place? We as a species are so bad at dealing with the waste we make, it can be so depressing. Then you hear news about the great pacific gyre, the area of plastic the size of France floating around the pacific ocean and just wonder if it’s too late for the planet. It sometimes feels hopeless, like the myth of Sisyphus, rolling the rock up a hill just to see it roll down again the other side. A never ending battle against the elements.
IELTS Speaking Part 3: Environment
- What kind of plastic waste can often be seen in your country?
- How can we use less plastic?
- What should the government do to reduce the use of plastic?
- Is there something the media can do to help us reduce plastic consumption?
- Do you think making plastic-producer companies pay will help to solve this problem?
- Do you think it is possible to completely eliminate the use of plastic?
If you answered Part 2 well, the examiner will skip the ‘describe’ questions in Part 3, they are generally reserved for the weaker speakers.
Speaking Part 3: Possible Answers
What kind of plastic waste can often be seen in your country?
- Bottles, bags, single-use cutlery, take-away food containers, household bottles like laundry detergents, etc.
- If your country has banned some plastic items, you could also mention what you ‘don’t’ see.
How can we use less plastic?
- Stop using single-use plastics – have our own cutlery, cups, bags that we use. People don’t ‘need’ these, society did fine without them.
- Use biodegradable refill packages to fill household detergent bottles, etc.
- Choose glass or aluminium products instead of plastic.
What should the government do to reduce the use of plastic?
- Ban single use plastic, it is already happening in many places
- Ban plastic bags
- People are lazy and need to be woken up to the problem and to the fact that there are many alternatives. The government can force people to change their habits quickly.
- Greater education, this is slower but it does work
- Have campaigns about saving wildlife and keeping the country beautiful
Is there something the media can do to help us reduce plastic consumption?
- The media could report more often on plastic pollution, thus raising awareness.
- They could produce some kind of live counter to raise awareness, like many TV channels did with Covid and climate change temperatures.
- If they were really committed that could stop selling advertising space to companies that create plastic waste – but difficult to convince the shareholders!
Do you think making plastic-producer companies pay will help to solve this problem?
Yes, for sure. Plastic producers should be responsible for the whole lifecycle of their products. This would make a massive difference. They would have to make their products easier to collect, recycle or reuse. At the moment they knowingly produce single use items that someone else has to pay to deal with, this is clearly not going to encourage manufacturers to improve their products. If they can’t afford to do this, that is fine too. Glass, aluminium and paper based products are available to do the job.
Do you think it is possible to completely eliminate the use of plastic?
No, plastic is incredibly versatile, strong, and cheap. It is a fantastic product with many uses and does not need to be eliminated completely. Plastic chairs, tables, computers, car parts, etc are extremely hard wearing and cheap to produce. But we can and should eliminate single use plastic, and stop it ending up in our rivers and oceans
Each week we pick out a series of recent IELTS speaking questions and give you some ideas on how you could answer them. We also show which of these questions relates to the ‘Themes’ in Mastering IELTS: A Theme Based Approach. The Mastering IELTS module on the Environment would be a great resource to help improve your score on questions like these.