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Addicted to Plastic

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ADDICTED TO PLASTIC is a feature-length documentary about solutions to plastic pollution. The point-of-view style documentary encompasses three years of filming in 12 countries on 5 continents, including two trips to the middle of the Pacific Ocean where plastic debris accumulates.
The film details plastic’s path over the last 100 years and provides a wealth of expert interviews on practical and cutting edge solutions to recycling, toxicity and biodegradability. These solutions – which include plastic made from plants – will provide viewers with a hopeful perspective about our future with plastic.


See More
Running Time: 53/85 min.
Subject(s): Ecology, Environment, Science, Society
Language(s): English
Director(s):
Producer(s): -
Production Company: Cryptic Moth Productions Inc.

Press

  • "Thought provoking and eye opening...Each segment is more revealing and provocative than the one before it."
    This Magazine
  • "Not merely a diatribe against overconsumption and littering, the program surveys how plastic is used, disposed of, and recycled into usable materials. A company in Texas makes railroad ties from melted plastic, and a Georgia carpet manufacturer creates new flooring from waste materials. In India and Africa, plastic bags are turned into handcrafted treasures. Plant-based renewable bioplastics are also discussed. Interviews with scientists, environmentalists, and developers on new ways to recycle and use plastics accent the accessible coverage...[Addicted to Plastic] offers much to ponder."
    Booklist
  • "Science, social science, and journalism classes can utilize this program for study and for debate. An essential addition for environmental collections."
    School Library Journal
  • "Vividly describes the dangers of plastics pollution without promoting bitterness and resentment. All viewers, whether plastics producers or plastic consumers, can feel hope for the future by the time the credit rolls...Highly recommended for middle-school through adult viewers."
    Educational Media Reviews Online
  • "The thing that sets Addicted to Plastic apart from many other scary documentaries is that Connacher goes looking for workable solutions. Even before remarking, 'So, what's the answer?' his film has highlighted numerous individuals and companies that have developed creative remedies to the problem of plastic."
    National Post
  • "Militant without being moralist, teaching without being tedious, this documentary suggests possible answers."
    The New Observer

Festival & Awards

  • International Environmental Film Festival, Spain - 2009
    Golden Sun Award Best International Documentary
  • Mostra de Ciencia e Cinema, Spain - 2009
    Winner Youth Award
  • FICMA International Environmental Film Festival, Spain - 2009
    Golden Sun Award for Best International Documentary
  • Amazonas Film Festival, Brazil
 - 2008
    Audience Award for International Documentary
  • Amazonas Film Festival, Brazil
 - 2008
    Jury Award for International Documentary
  • Festival International du Film d'Environnement, France
 - 2008
    Coup de Coeur du Personnel de la Région Île de France
  • Coup de Coeur du Personnel de la Région Île de France - 2008
    Runner up Silver Snow Flake Award
  • Planet In Focus Film Festival, Canada - 2008
  • International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2008
  • 
Princeton Environmental Film Festival, USA - 2009
  • Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, USA - 2009
  • Powell River Film Festival, Canada - 2009
  • Environmental Film Festival in the Nations Capital, USA - 2009
  • AFI DALLAS International Film Festival, USA - 2009
  • Yale Environmental Film Festival, USA - 2009
  • Hamilton ECO Film & Arts Festival, Canada - 2009
  • Documenta Madrid International Documentary Film Festival, Spain - 2009
  • International Documentary Film Festival DOCVILLE, Belgium - 2009
  • Dok.Fest, Germany - 2009
  • Reel Earth Film festival, New Zealand - 2009
  • Kiev International Film Festival, Ukraine - 2009
  • Dutch Environmental Film Festival, Netherlands - 2009
  • Ecofilms Rodos International Film Festival, Greece - 2009
  • Tri Continental Film Festival, South Africa - 2009
  • EBS Doc fest, Korea - 2009

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  • More on ADDICTED TO PLASTIC

    More on Film

    As a species we are starting to choke on our plastic consumption. Sure, people might be reducing their plastic bags and trying to minimize their use of plastic packaging, but plastic remains a lethal substance that permeates every aspect of our North American lives. But where does it all go after we are done with it? Some ends up in landfills, but the rest ends up in the oceans. In fact, marine experts report more than 80% of the plastic found in the oceans actually originates from a land based source. We caught up with filmmaker Ian Connacher to talk about his hot new film, Addicted to Plastic, and find out what happens to plastic after we are finished with it.

    Why did you make Addicted to Plastic?

    In 2005, I spent a month sailing out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean with Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. We went out to sample for plastic in an area roughly the size of Western Europe, called the Eastern Garbage Patch. And it wasn’t pretty. I personally scooped up fishing nets, bottles, buckets, a fluorescent light tube, a paint roller etc. These larger plastic pieces collect lots of marine life – like barnacles and crabs – which can be transported to foreign waters causing biotic mixing.

    What’s worse, sunlight and waves break up plastic into smaller and smaller pieces that begin to resemble food for marine organisms. I also learned how plastics repel water but also absorb nasty oils like pesticides and herbicides that flow downstream from farms. In other words, all these little bits become poison pills, available to the whole food chain. I produced a short film entitled, “Alphabet Soup,” which showed how plastic travels out to remote parts of the ocean and become adopted into the food chain. It wasn’t a pretty story. I wanted to know what could be done to fix this mess. So I quit my job and began to travel around the world in search for solutions. This became Addicted to Plastic.

    How long did the film take to make?

    Including my trip to the garbage patch, it took approximately 3 years.

    Was it a difficult film to make?

    Yes. We ended up shooting over 400 hours of footage, which is partly why editing took almost an entire year.

    Does the general public know enough about the problems with plastic?

    Absolutely not. Most people (at least in North America) think that what they put into the recycle bin actually gets recycled. The truth is, only about 5% of all plastic actually gets recycled. The plastic that is recycled is often plastic bottles turned into plastic chairs or plastic lumber. This, in my opinion, is not recycling. It’s downcycling – turning one product into an inferior product. Downcycling doesn’t stop new plastic from being made. What’s more, there is a disconnect between manufacturers of plastic items and the end-users. With glass, we only have green, clear and brown. With plastic, it’s limitless. That means one plastic bottle could have different colors on it as well as different types of plastic (the cap, the wrapper). All these varieties make recycling extremely difficult.

    In Europe, governments regulate products based on the precautionary principle, which means a manufacturer must prove their product is safe before it can be put on the market. In North America, private research groups have to prove that a product is toxic before it can be pulled from the shelves. I still don’t understand why there are toxic materials on the market when alternatives already exist.

    How bad is the plastic problem?

    Every piece of plastic that’s ever been made, except a small amount that’s been incinerated, still exists. That means our landfills, beaches and oceans are overflowing with plastic waste from the last 100 years. North America also ships a lot of our plastic waste to China and India, where the task of recycling is placed on the backs of poor families in appalling conditions. In Delhi, for example, I witnessed families living on top of a landfill, manually collecting scraps of plastic bags and forks and packaging for literally a dollar a day. Toxic ingredients in plastic are also being linked to everything from learning disabilities, heart disease, obesity and cancer.

    Is it possible we are ingesting plastic through the fish we eat?

    Yes. I personally witnessed the dissection of a Fulmar bird in Holland. The stomach contained two grams of various types of plastic including bags, Styrofoam, hard plastic chunks and nurdles – pre-production plastic pellets. In the Pacific Ocean, Captain Moore conducted trawls for small fragments of plastic in the water and compared the weight of the plastic in the samples to the weight of plankton. Some of his trawls showed as much as 20 times more plastic than naturally-occurring food. Filter feeders like jellyfish, do not discriminate between plastic and plankton.

    Why do we use so much plastic?

    Plastic is cheap, durable, non-conductive and can be molded into any shape. It makes our food safer, our cars lighter and more efficient and makes modern medicine possible. My film is not out to vilify plastic but, rather, show just how much we are misusing this very valuable material. Packaging, in particular, is getting out of control and much of it is driven by convenience.

    Do you use plastic?

    Of course. I couldn’t make the film without plastic (videotape, cables, my camera etc). But, again, I don’t think the material is to blame. I think it is our misuse of the material as consumers, the ineffective recycling policies and lack of producer responsibility.

    Can people live a plastic free life?

    No. And I don’t think that’s the point. I think we definitely need to be more conscious consumers but we also need producer responsibility and government protections when it comes to producing alternatives or improving recycling.

    What will people take away from seeing your film?

    I hope they will take away a better understanding of all the issues surrounding plastic – how there is no such thing as disposability, the disconnect between manufacturers and recyclers, how individuals and companies are making a difference by developing alternatives, and how we can move forward responsibly. I wish I could have put more solutions into the film but I felt that viewers needed to understand just how bad plastic pollution has become and that up to now, it’s been invisible.

    What can the average person do to help the planet become more plastic free?

    Buy a reusable coffee mug. Bring a knapsack to the supermarket. Buy products with minimal packaging. Investigate bioplastic products. Avoid toxic plastics like PVC or polycarbonate. Petition government for better recycling laws. Improve your company’s plastic footprint. Pass the information on to younger generations. Remember that when you throw something away, there is no away.

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