To celebrate World Environment Day on June 5, Greenpeace Africa will, this week, screen 'The Story of Plastic', a new documentary directed and produced by Deia Schlosberg, which exposes the international environmental, climate, justice and health impacts of the plastic industry.
The virtual screenings of the film will take place between June 3 and 5.
Greenpeace Africa says the documentary depicts an international plastic crisis beyond anything most people have imagined and reveals how people’s perceptions of it have been manipulated.
The organisation notes that the plastics industry is producing more single-use plastic than ever before and is working to increase production further.
"Through compelling reporting on three continents and original animation, the film exposes the causes and effects of the crisis but also introduces unsung heroes fighting to stop the mass production of plastic and to hold the industry accountable," the organisation states.
South Africa introduced a levy on plastic bags in 2004, and although easy for the government to implement, Greenpeace states that the levy has not been effective in controlling the “plastic menace” as recently witnessed during the floods in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
In this regard, Greenpeace Africa states that its call for a total ban on single-use plastics on several occasions has fallen on deaf ears.
“Plastics continue to haunt us long after we have used them because, during the degradation process, they break down into microparticles, which then contaminate our water systems. We know that this has an impact on our oceans and the animals living in them,” says Greenpeace Africa climate and energy campaigner Nhlanhla Sibisi.
He adds that society and business need to dig deeper and acknowledge that plastic is an end-product on a fossil-fuel production line.
“We need to address the source of plastics for us to understand the proper systems to put in place to address the scourge of plastic pollution in South Africa.”
Sibisi also notes that people have a moral obligation to hold the fossil fuel and plastic industries equally accountable for the plastic pollution being experienced currently. “The power to do so lies with a people-driven approach movement that can be championed by consumers.”
Greenpeace further states that the plastics industry targets lower-income people in developing countries with cheap, single-use sachets that ultimately end up in the waste stream.
“It promotes false recycling solutions that put the onus on consumers and only recycle 2% of plastics.”
As a result, the organisation says that, although people may not realise it, plastic pollution now pervades in oceans and the developing world. “Plastics and the toxic chemicals used to produce them are now everywhere – in our food, water, air, soil and our bodies.”
The public can arrange to view the film screening by visiting the Greenpeace Africa website.