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‘Trashed’ highlights scale of plastics recycling challenges

United States – An expert panel including plastics recycling pioneer Dr Mike Biddle has applauded a new documentary film, ‘Trashed’, for its realistic treatment of the strategies humankind must adopt to tackle the huge volumes of waste it generates.

The film, two years in the making, was written and directed by journalist Candida Brady and fronted by actor Jeremy Irons. It was shown at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the Environmental Film Festival at Yale.

Dr Biddle, founder and president of MBA Polymers – who is profiled in the May issue of Recycling International’ – commented after the Yale screening: ‘What appealed to me about this film is that it does show the significant problems we face in managing the huge amounts of waste humanity generates, and that dealing with these problems requires concerted efforts on many fronts.’

Plastic bottles and other waste items are prominent in the film, most memorably as Irons visits a polluted beach near the ancient Lebanese city of Sidon. Viewers are told that 200 billion litres’ worth of water bottles and 58 billion disposable cups are discarded worldwide each year.

‘There is an urgent need for the most imaginative and productive solutions to this troublesome subject to be understood and shared by as many communities as possible throughout the world,’ the actor said afterwards. ‘This is where movies can play such an important role, educating society, bringing "difficult" subjects to the broadest possible audience.’

Buy, bury, burn

Brady added: ‘We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it.’ Her film points out the potential pollution hazard solutions such as incineration pose.

Dr Biddle said waste must be considered as a valuable resource, but accepted that ‘wholesale change needs to take place’ in order to make full use of advances in plastics recycling – ‘whether it is big businesses doing more to ensure the products they produce can be effectively recycled at the end of their lifespan, or individuals ensuring they’re recycling their plastic waste to the best of their abilities’.

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