The Recycling Myth (60 mins) 

From the WHY PLASTIC series produced by WHY Foundation (2021) 

Password needed for screening.

KEY THEMES: Follow-the-money, incineration, waste exports, recycling, organised crime, environmental justice  



In the last few years the plastic pollution crisis has become an international scandal. But the plastic packaging industry has declared that it knows how to solve the problem: By Recycling. Increasingly, bottles, boxes and sachets are proudly stamped with the words “100% recyclable” as brands compete to reassure consumers that their packaging purchases are guilt-free. But if recycling is really the solution, why is the world pumping out more virgin plastic than ever before? Could recycling really be the ultimate greenwash? We follow the money into an industry that’s designed to hide the problem rather than solve it. 

We track the black-market brokers who hunt for countries to dump our plastic, waste moguls getting rich by burning trash, and the organised criminals for whom waste smuggling is now as lucrative as human trafficking. As we all pick up the bill for a world drowning in plastic, the film asks: who is getting rich?  



– Is it better to separate your trash, or it doesn’t make a difference? 

– What kind of policies can you think of that could better this situation? (examples could be mandatory percentages of recycled plastic in all new packaging, taxing virgin plastic etc.) 

– What is better: burning plastic domestically, or sending it abroad where there is a chance it will get recycled, but there’s also a chance it will end up in illegal dumps or in nature? 

– Has this film changed your mind about anything? 

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