This video by NowThis Earth breaks down plastic recycling, showing the true social and environmental costs of "recycling" some plastics.
This video outlines the environmental injustice of the global plastic recycling system. Much of the plastic that is "recycled" in the United States (except #1 and #2) is shipped to the Global South and may not be recycled.
This video is dynamic and features excellent graphics.
This may change the narrative in your classroom or school, showing that plastic recycling is not what you think it is.
Students can engage in any number of higher-priority climate actions at school, including advocating for more plant-based food, reducing food waste, or creating no-idle zones to reduce emissions from cars and buses.
One way to fix the broken plastic recycling system is simply to consume less plastic in the first place. So if students ask what they can do, suggest a personal action they can take for the climate: buy less stuff.
Students could research local recycling systems to learn what can actually be recycled in their town.
Note that paper, cardboard, glass, and aluminum are recycled domestically and are very important to reduce our impacts on the planet. Students can look to purchase products made from 100% recycled material and can look for paper, glass, and aluminum as alternatives to plastic packaging/items.
The video explores the state of global recycling systems and the need to enact laws to stop plastic production and improve waste management. There is no contradiction in the video, and this is recommended for teaching.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
Dimension 2: Civics
D2.Civ.12.6-8 Assess specific rules and laws (both actual and proposed) as means of addressing public problems.
Dimension 2: Economics
D2.Eco.1.6-8 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
Dimension 2: Geography
D2.Geo.11.9-12 Evaluate how economic globalization and the expanding use of scarce resources contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among countries.