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Plastic China

Documentary Shines Light on the Struggles Recycling Workers Face in China

“Plastic China” showcases the lives of two families who are struggling to live and work in a typical plastic waste household-recycling workshop.

“Plastic China,” a documentary by director Wang Jiuliang that showcases the lives of two families who are struggling to live and work in a typical plastic waste household-recycling workshop, provides a look into what it’s like to work in small factories that reprocess imported plastics while China is rushing to embrace capitalism.

The working families sort plastic with their bare hands and without protective gear and clothing, which exposes them to a number of dangerous items and the risk of contracting polychlorinated biphenyl poisoning.

South China Morning Post has more:

Many Hongkongers will be familiar with the environmental effects of industrialisation on the mainland. But this 2016 documentary by director Wang Jiuliang, which is set in a small factory that reprocesses imported plastics, takes an up-close-and-personal look at the situation rather than a broad investigative view.

Plastic China’s portrait of a migrant worker and his family, and the factory’s ambitious owner, is touching and saddening, and puts a human face on the problems caused by China’s rush to embrace capitalism. The film also provides rare insight into what it’s like to work at the bottom end of a booming economy.

Wang is something of a social activist when it comes to waste and pollution. His 2011 film, Beijing Besieged by Waste, was the result of a three-year odyssey documenting unregulated landfills on the outskirts of the capital. Plastic China is the result of an 18-month sojourn at a plastics recycling factory in Shandong province, during which Wang lived, and even worked, alongside the factory boss and his sole employee.

Read the full story here.

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