The booming recycling industry is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately, this same industry has also paved our international shores with mountainous heaps of discarded trash. Produced by Sky News, Dirty Business examines the journey our recyclables take after they're picked up by our local waste management professionals.
Most of us want to play our part in preserving our resources and protecting our damaged environment. That's why so many heeded the call when they were encouraged to recycle their paper and plastic products after use. It's a noble notion that leaves you with a warm feeling of having contributed to a cause greater than yourself.
The revelations contained in the film will likely strike a blow to these aspirations. Of the staggering 22 million tons of recyclable waste the U.K. collects in any given year, as little as 2% of it enjoys reprocessing. This same sobering statistic holds true for other regions of the world as well. Adding to the crisis is a widespread confusion as to which products are actually candidates for recycling.
The film exposes the path taken by our recycled products. The first stretch of this journey - from the doorstep to the recycling plant - is impressive in its efficiency and coordination. The dysfunction really begins from these points of origin. Like many other regions in the west, the U.K. trash is being shipped to other areas of the world; they don't want to deal with it in their own backyard.
The filmmakers travel to China, where a reliance on plastic scraps has made the country the unofficial rubbish capital of the world. Much of their recycled trash is imported in such massive quantities that China no longer wants it. Other countries who have tried to pick up the slack are struggling with the volume and its intrusion on their infrastructure. Shortcuts are made, processes are compromised, and countless acres of trash are abandoned in cities all over the world. The resulting environmental impact is alarming.
Dirty Business sheds valuable light on a system that most of us take for granted, and advocates for more sensible and modernized solutions.
Directed by: Stephanie Degroote