The Story of Plastic Documentary Discussion

Take action and make a difference!

Did anything in the film surprise you? What did you learn from this film that you wish everyone knew? What would change if everyone knew it?”

For anyone that hasn't seen the Story of Plastic yet, check it out and consider hosting a virtual screening (free!): https://www.storyofplastic.org/

Action Opportunities

  • Break Free From Plastic


  • Story of Plastic


  • Educational resources to accompany the film


  • Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives


Reflect on your viewing of The Story of Plastic.

The Story of Plastic provides such important insight into the root cause of our current condition. Plastic as a byproduct of fossil fuel! A literal ad campaign to encourage its use during post-WWII consumerism. Now the emphasis is on consumers to solve the problem when the industry is focused on keeping in intact. While receiving $5.2 trillion in subsidies! This is an important area for advocacy. Policy change. End the externalization of costs. Companies choosing to use plastics must own them and solve the waste management issue -- or better yet, move away from plastics. 

Problems- Over supply

  • The petrochemical industry (shale oil, natural gas, etc) needs new markets as the demand for oil drops.
  • It’s cheaper & easier to make virgin plastic than deal with recycling esp since China’s 2018 ban on imports
  • The incinerators rely on plastics as a source of easy to burn fuel
  • There are double standards in which multi-national companies do the LEAST they can in order to meet consumer demand (with non-recyclables in poorer countries)
  • By 2025, production capacity is expected to increase by 33-36% for both ethylene and propylene. If constructed, this massive expansion in capacity could lock in plastic production for decades, undermining efforts to reduce consumption and reverse the plastics crisis.

Some of the Story of Plastic featured the Philippines. Having spent some time there in the 1970s, then again in the late 1990s, I saw first hand how things were changing. Like the comment in the film said, there was a time when plastics were not everywhere, in part because things like soy sauce and vinegar were purchased by refilling a glass bottle. By the 1990s, plastic was everywhere, and so was bottled water and fast food. It's just heartbreaking to see the results... There's an economic piece of course and the Philippines has yet to realize its full independence from the US, as corporations with familiar names have inordinate influence. Accordingly, this beautiful and lush area of the world -- comprised of over 7.000 islands, some of which are jeopardized by the impact of climate change and deforestation, has yet to realize its full potential. <3 It's heartbreaking and mind-boggling to imagine all of "our" plastics piling up on these beautiful islands. The "waste trade stories" was one of the biggest shockers for me as I researched the problems with plastics last month: https://wastetradestories.org/

More staggering statistics from my notes while viewing The Story of Plastic: despite what we're told about recycling of plastics (as part of the emphasis on consumers solving the problem), according to the film: 32% ends up as litter with 40% going to landfills. 14% is incinerated, which of course emits toxins into the air. 14% is recycled/down-cycled and only 2% is actually effectively recycled into a lower quality use. "Downcycling is the process of converting waste materials, like a water bottle, into new products of lesser quality, such as carpet fiber. However, there is not a market for all types of recycled plastics. Plastics #3 – #7 are not as versatile, and cannot be downcycled as effectively, therefore many of these products do not get ‘downcycled’ and are sent to the landfill where they take hundreds of years to breakdown, or sent abroad to a questionable future in a foreign country." http://thewatershedproject.org/the-downside-of-downcycling-and-the-recycling-revolution-taking-place-in-richmond/ Let's get rid of our global addiction to plastic by demanding companies like Proctor & Gamble stop using it, or we'll stop using them!

Solutions must include extended producer responsibility.


Center for Internatinal Environmental Law https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Fueling-Plastics-How-Fracked-Gas-Cheap-Oil-and-Unburnable-Coal-are-Driving-the-Plastics-Boom.pdf

5005 S. Macadam Ave, Portland, OREGON • achs.edu/consumer-disclosures • DEAC ACCREDITED