This article discusses whether recycling plastics is the solution to that problem. No, it isn’t. ‘Recycling Is Like a Band-Aid on Gangrene’.
The Newfoundland lab, the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), interrogates what Max Liboiron believes to be systemic problems in science. CLEAR conducts its research on microplastics from a feminist and anti-colonial perspective. This epistemic approach informs the lab’s scientific protocols, ethics, and research designs. Taylor Hess and Hutton’s short documentary Guts is an inside look at the lab, the research it conducts on plastic pollution and sustainability, and the way Liboiron empowers citizens to engage in science at the community level.
Liboiron’s critiques aren’t limited to methodology. In the documentary, she asks a group of well-intentioned recyclers to look closely at their individual consumer behaviors. The data on waste management, she says, suggest that recycling doesn’t do much to mitigate the problem of plastic pollution. “The only mode of attack is to deal with a heavy decrease in the production of plastics, as opposed to dealing with them after they’ve already been created,” she tells the group. “Your consumer behaviors do not matter. Not on the scale of the problem … It’s the cessation of production that will make the big-scale changes.” She also advocates for removing subsidies from oil.