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In-Depth Interview: As Earth Chokes on Plastic Waste, Industry Expands Production

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A new documentary, The Story of Plastic, details the worldwide crisis caused by plastic waste, and shows how the industry keeps expanding production.

It’s no secret that plastic waste products — especially single-use items — are polluting the land, sea, and air. The Story of Plastic is a new documentary that focuses on a global movement — called Break Free From Plastic — and shows activists using many methods to clean up plastic waste while working to reduce our use of a wide range of plastic products.

In this new WhoWhatWhy podcast, Brett Chamberlin, the impact producer for the documentary, says that cleanup efforts can’t keep up with the expanding production of plastics, which are a major profit center for the oil and gas industries.

And while “Big Plastic” corporations have pledged $1 billion toward cleanup efforts, they are spending over $200 billion to build even more plastic plants.

With the virtual collapse of the global recycling marketplace, landfills are choking with plastic waste — and plastic debris clogs creeks, rivers, and beaches, culminating in a number of floating “gyres,” the massive collections of plastic waste drifting in our oceans.

This podcast was first posted at WhoWhatWhy  

Chamberlin notes that microplastics and “nurdles” (little pellets of plastic) have even entered the food chain.

Environmental activists are fighting back. One of them is Diane Wilson, a veteran shrimp boat captain from the Houston area. On October 15, 2019, Wilson’s group won a court victory that orders Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics to pay $50 million for polluting waterways, to comply with “zero discharge,” and to clean up existing pollution.

The Story of Plastic premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival and will be screened at other festivals before full release. It is directed by Deia Schlosberg and produced by the nonprofit that delivered the viral film The Story of Stuff. Get screening information and view short videos at