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Plastic China

Through the rolling hills of plastic waste can be heard the faint rustle and laughter of children scurrying and playing. The smiles that break across their grubby faces belie a bleak existence for the families that scrape by sorting plastic waste. Following Pen and his daughter Yi Jie, under the watchful eye of boss Kun, this film shows the lives of those harmed most by severe social inequality.

Director: Jiu-liang Wang
Year: 2016
Time: 82 min

 Plastic China
(2016) on IMDb

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Ways to Influence

Share  this film. Give others the chance to learn and be inspired to get into action.

Donate  to CNEX Foundation Limited. This non-profit foundation devoted to the production and promotion of documentaries of the Chinese people has pledged to provide a portion of donations to support for Yi-Jie’s family.

Know  your local recycling procedures. Procedures vary from city to city and state to state, so visit your local municipality’s website to find out what you can recycle or check out Recycle Nation to locate a recycling location near you.

Raise  community awareness about recycling opportunities. Enlighten your co-workers, neighbors, and elected officials about recycling benefits and help them feel that they could be part of the solution. Greenpeace has a produced an eBook titled ‘The ABCs of Recycling’ as a helpful guide.

Reduce  the plastic waste you produce on a daily basis. When out and about, kindly decline plastic bags, straws, and any other one time use items that you can live without. The Green Education Foundation has produced a useful guide to reduce your plastic waste.

Related Articles and Resources

Plastic China: the illusion of China’s prosperity

“Consumer society has reached a dead end. Watching Chinese film director Wang Jiuliang’s images, the public uncovers a controversial issue: the plastic waste disposal industry in China.”

Continue reading on Le Journal International.


China’s Blow to Recycling Boosts U.S.’s $185 Billion Plastic Bet

“The world’s biggest user of scrap has stopped accepting shiploads of other countries’ plastic trash as it phases in a new ban. That’s bad news for the recycling industry, as China has been a major consumer of salvaged materials it processes into resin that ends up in pipe, carpets, bottles and other cogs of modern life.”

Continue reading on Bloomberg.

24 reasons why China’s ban on foreign trash is a wake-up call for global waste exporters

“It’s time to wave goodbye to the “out of sight, out of mind” attitude towards waste, and usher in an era of reduced waste. Governments across the world will soon realise they have little choice but to welcome this new era, for the good of our and our planet’s health.”

Read the article from South China Morning Post.

China’s plastic scrap ban threatens ‘crisis’ for UK recycling industry

“UK has shipped more than 2.7m tonnes of plastic scrap to China and Hong Kong since 2012 – but the country now needs to find a new home for its recycling.”

Continue reading on Unearthed.

Environmental filmmakers have rare impact in China

“Environmental filmmakers continue to be hassled at the local level — Wang said he has been chased by dogs, threatened and punched — but their work apparently is being tolerated nationally because it aligns with the Communist Party leadership’s new priority of fighting pollution. Some of these filmmakers are even influencing the authorities.”

Read the article on The San Diego Union-Tribune

Plastics Pile Up as China Refuses to Take the West’s Recycling

“China had been processing at least half of the world’s exports of waste paper, metals and used plastic — 7.3 million tons in 2016.”

Read the article on The New York Times.

How Chinese schools discriminate against 65% of the population: Rural pupils are shut out of city schools and neglected in their villages.

“People from the countryside are the unsung heroes of China’s economic rise. The migration of more than 200m of them into cities, where their labour is more productive than it is in the fields, has been the rocket fuel of the country’s spectacular growth.”

Read the article on The Economist.

China’s Education Gap

“In China, which pioneered the use of merit-based examinations to fill official positions, an educational system that was once a great equalizer now reinforces inequality.”

Learn more on  The New York Times.


China’s Environmental Woes, in Films That Go Viral, Then Vanish

“Achieving fame was not hard for Wang Jiuliang, but staying in the spotlight has proved more difficult.”

Read the article on The New York Times.

All Your Garbage Is Ruining This Little Girl’s Life

“Yi-Jie, who lives in a spare room at the plant with her parents and siblings, spends her days working and constructing imaginary worlds atop the piles of trash that cover the ground. She builds forts inside the recyclables and rifles through Western magazines, piecing together clues about life beyond the garbage and enriching it with fantasies.”

Continue reading on Inverse.

A Conversation with Artist Wang Jiu-liang

“When I was a child, what I liked most was to roll in the field in spring, bathing in the warm sunshine, having my bare feet touching the cool ploughed soil and smelling the fragrance of the soil; that was such a delicate and nice feeling. My feeling for my hometown first forced me to think about why and how the change has happened.”

Continue reading on Academia.

Plastic, poverty and pollution in China’s recycling dead zone

“In 2010 Adam Minter visited Wen’an, once at the heart of the global scrap plastic trade. In this never-before published extract from his book he describes the effects on workers’ health.”

Continue reading on The Guardian.


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