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Plastic is a revolutionary material. It’s durable, affordable, multi-functional - and it has pushed our planet to the brink of one of the worst environmental crises in modern history.

Plastic is also a topic surrounded by a lot of confusion and misleading information. WHY PLASTIC? is a three-part investigative documentary series that will bust the myths and misinformation, taking a closer look at what is fact and what is fiction.

Each film investigates a different aspect of plastic pollution: Recycling, Human Health and The Industry.

We believe that civic education and free access to reliable media is a critical step in addressing social issues and effecting change. Documentary film is a powerful tool, helping to convey important information and spread knowledge. WHY PLASTIC? will help to create a nuanced, factual debate around plastic pollution and the problems connected to it, such as the climate crisis, environmental justice and public health.


After two years of researching, following the money and talking to the leading experts, we are ready to present three cutting-edge documentary films, unlike any plastic documentaries made before.

Filmed across the globe and revealing the latest scientific research, WHY PLASTIC? will bring uncomfortable facts to the table, confronting the audience with surprising findings as well as powerful narratives of the lives of those directly affected by plastic pollution.

The films will dig deep into what happens to our plastic trash, investigate industry pledges as well as unveil the local and global effects our plastic use has on the environment - and on our health.

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The Recycling Myth

Do you know what happens with your plastic trash?

In the last few years the plastic pollution crisis has become an international scandal. Pictures of dead animals, littered rivers, and polluted oceans have shocked the world. The plastic packaging industry has declared it knows how to solve the problem: recycling. Increasingly, bottles, boxes and sachets are proudly stamped with the words ‘100% recyclable’ as brands compete to reassure consumers that their packaging purchases are guilt-free. But if recycling is really the solution, why is the world pumping out more virgin plastic than ever before? Could recycling really be the ultimate greenwash? We follow the money into an industry that’s designed to hide the problem rather than solve it. We track the black-market brokers who hunt for countries to dump our plastic, waste moguls getting rich by burning trash, and the organised criminals for whom waste smuggling is now as lucrative as human trafficking. And we show how some of the biggest consumer-goods brands on earth spin the recycling fairytale as a way to allow them to continue polluting without consequence. As we all pick up the bill for a world drowning in plastic, the film asks: who is getting rich? This film will be broadcast through ARD, DR, SVT, NRK, CBC, NHK and SRF/RTS/RSI. EBU, DANIDA and Rogovy Foundation supported the production. Dates to be confirmed.

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WHY PLASTIC? campaign trailer

THE WHY presents WHY PLASTIC? an investigative media campaign about the causes, consequences and possible solutions to plastic pollution.

Plastic is a topic surrounded by a lot of confusion and misleading information. This documentary series will bust the myths and misinformation surrounding plastic and take a close look at what is fact and what is fiction. Soon we will be ready to present three cutting-edge documentary films, unlike any plastic documentaries made before. WHY PLASTIC? consists of three one-hour investigative documentary films that will be broadcasted at BBC and our 70+ broadcasting partners all over the world. They will also be made available free of charge to schools, universities, libraries, museums, and community organizations. The films will complement each other and provide a holistic overview as well as in-depth stories of plastic pollution.

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Coca-Cola's Plastic Promises

Can the world's largest soft-drinks producer turn the tide on plastic waste?

The soft drinks industry has faced growing criticism of the use of single-use plastic. In 2018 Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft drinks producer, set ambitious targets to reduce the amount of its plastic packaging that ends up in the environment. It said that by 2030 it would collect one bottle or can for every one it sold and make them from 50% recycled material. Coke’s plan is to eliminate waste by turning old bottles into new ones. In this film, we investigate Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste strategy. Could it be a shining example for the whole beverage industry? Or is Coke’s plan to recycle its way out of the problem fundamentally flawed? And how well, after three years, is Coca-Cola doing around the world in meeting the commitments it has made? This film will be broadcast through BBC Panorama, ARTE/ZDF, DR, SVT, NRK, CBC and SRF/RTS/RSI. EBU and DANIDA supported the production. Dates to be confirmed.

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We The Guinea Pigs

What effect does our plastic use have on human health?

Could it be that we are all involuntary participants in a huge experiment, threatening humankind? According to the researchers in "We The Guinea Pigs", this might very well be the case. As plastic has gained ground in our lives over the years, there has been an inexplicable increase in a number of diseases and disorders. In the past, 1 in 20 women used to get breast cancer -  today it is one in eight. Men's sperm quality has been halved in 50 years. And the number of children and adults who are diagnosed with attention deficit disorders has increased explosively. In the film, we meet leading researchers as well as follow case studies of ordinary people. The 40-year-old woman who has aggressive breast cancer, involuntarily childless couples and the young woman with ADHD. Are these people the victims of unfortunate coincidences - or is there an explanation? The researchers are in no doubt.  They know that our natural hormones can be disturbed by chemicals from, among other things, plastic. Experiments on animals have shown that it is especially in fetal life that adverse health effects can occur. Before you were even born, it could be that you were pre-programmed to get various diseases and disorders later in life. This film will be broadcast through ARTE, DR, SVT, NRK, CBC, NHK and SRF/RTS/RSI. EBU and DFI supported the production. Dates to be confirmed.

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Short film

Short films

In Production

Animated short films that explain about plastic in an accessible way

The 3 one-hour WHY PLASTIC? documentary films will be accompanied by 10 short films of around 2 minutes each. These films will go further in depth into the causes, consequences and possible solutions to the problems related to plastic. The films can be used by our partners in museums, libraries and educational institutions to highlight certain aspects of the issue, but they will also be used to give the campaign a compelling online presence. Some of the themes that will be explored in the short films are the history of plastic, single-use plastic and greenwashing.

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The Dangers of Plastic to Human Health

How much plastic is getting in to your body and affecting your health? THE WHY went to the Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam to find out.

How much plastic is getting in to your body and affecting your health? THE WHY went to the Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam. There, scientists presented the first results from their research on the effects of micro and nano plastics on human health. The research is part of THE WHY new series WHY PLASTIC?, to be released in 2021. If you want to dig deeper, check out our article on plastic particles:


Even though it might appear simple at surface level, plastic pollution can be difficult to get a grip off. The problem is too complex to be solved with simple solutions, yet this is the way we often talk about it. With so much information available, it is also sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction. If after seeing the films, you feel like knowing more, we have gathered some resources you can use to expand your horizon and dig a little deeper.


We believe in documentary films as powerful tools to spark debates and discussions.

THE WHY partners up with organisations all over the world, to ensure that our films get seen by as many people as possible.

Global Network

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