Review by Michael Dowling

I’ve always thought of myself as reasonably environmentally aware. A person who understood the key factors of what’s going on in our world.

After watching this documentary, The Story of Plastic, I realise I have been suckered by the fossil fuel industry for decades.

The Story of Plastic is a truly awakening and somewhat shocking enlightenment. What I found out watching it shocked and horrified me. It made me much madder at the fossil fuel industry that supplies the raw materials.

Most plastic goes to landfill or to clog our environment – our land, streams and oceans – where it is extremely problematic – pretty much forever.

Reviewing The Story of Plastic in Adobo Magazine, Camille Ong points out that plastic pollution is not the individual’s fault, but the fault of the fossil fuel industries and manufacturers of plastics.

Someone I heard recently said, “We don’t need a time machine to know our future. All we need is a window.” Plastic should have NO PLACE IN OUR ENVIRONMENT.

China’s refusal to be the world’s dumping ground has made everybody take notice as un-recycled trash mounts up in our own communities. The rest of the world – who didn’t realise the waste wasn’t being properly recycled – are now shocked to find it is their problem.

A healthy environment is a human right. But everywhere poverty is exploited, the marginalised and poor bear most of the burden.

Asia is often blamed for plastic pollution but the decisions about plastic packaging are made in the boardrooms of western corporations. Those decisions are often heedless of the consequences for the environment and the poor.

In some places burning waste has been seen as a “viable” or positive solution. The documentary shows communities shrouded in clouds of toxic pollution emanating from trash furnaces. The smoke is a toxic cocktail of deadly chemicals including heavy metals. The ash is even more toxic. Respiratory diseases and long-term health consequences affect many, shortening lives and causing birth defects.

The film looks at the whole chain of damage from extraction of fossil fuels to the disposal of waste.

Corporations, fossil fuel industry, and politicians would have you believe that gas fracking is necessary for energy supply. The truth is that much of the gas extracted by fracking is used to make plastics. So we are poisoning land, aquifers and our air to make toxic plastic. So much for “clean natural” gas!

The story for our oceans is worse than anyone knew. Eight million tonnes of plastic are going into our waters each year.

Brand audits of trash collected from the environment show most of the plastic pollution comes from just a few large corporations. Plastics polluting poor Asian countries have origins from around the world – including Australia, Europe and America. The people least able to deal with the problem are those carrying the greatest burden.

We can’t recycle our way out of this problem. We must urgently ban all unnecessary single use plastic as the European parliament has done.

We have to end fossil fuel subsidies. Producers must be made responsible for the wastes they generate, with manufacturers and fossil fuel companies bearing  Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) from cradle to grave for their products.