NAPCOR, NEO’s and more!

The National Association for PET Container Resources and the Your Bottle Means Jobs campaign, in conjunction with the SC Dept. of Commerce hired me to create a video showing the process of what exactly happens to a PET bottle when it is recycled and just how many jobs are created when it happens!  Besides the Youtube version of the video I created getting more than 29K views in the last year, I also just found out that it’s on NAPCOR’s very nice new website.  Just check it out! Scroll to the bottom of the page til you see Your Bottle Means Jobs.

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I also found out that the same video is being used in New Employee Orientations (NEO’s) for all staff onboarding with Orange County in NC.

“Orange County New Employee Orientation (NEO)  provides a segment on recycling that was developed &  is usually run by our Education & Outreach staffer…who inserted this video into her presentations to drive that recycling is an economic activity… 

It is a great idea to have new employee orientation include a segment on recycling but we find it’s extremely rare.

The recycling segment is for all employees. One former HR director here said, ‘In 25 years of HR I’ve NEVER seen recycling on the agenda anywhere else in NEO’s”

So…I am a pretty happy camper!

Your Bottle Means Jobs from TheVideoSlab on Vimeo.

Your Bottle Means Jobs

It all started with a fella named Blair Pollock.  I ran into him at the outdoor retail shop where I work.  He was asking us if we could help him get in touch with our rep from Patagonia.  He wanted some help from Patagucci in helping him tell the story of how right here in the Carolinas that PET plastics recycling is directly tied to creating the fabrics that go into Patagonia products.  It was a cool concept…you recycle PET bottles here in the Carolinas…and right here they are transformed into fabric that Patagonia buys for their clothes manufacturing.  Blair works in the waste management industry and seemed to have facts about plastics and the recycling world in general coming out of his ears.

He also spoke about this whole big project that was being launched in the Carolinas called Your Bottle Means Jobs.  Meanwhile he didn’t know that he was talking to a guy (me!) who had always wanted to tell the story of what happens to a bottle after it goes into the bin.  Where does it go next?  Where does it end up?  I wanted to be a fly on the wall, with a camera, to tell this story.

I will tell you that it was quite the journey.  It ended up being a joint project between the Carolina Plastics and Recycling Council, the SC Chamber of Commerce and NAPCOR. I visited 4 different facilities.  I filmed in strange old buildings with machines that look like dragons breathing smoke and in newer ones with state of the art machinery.  I met people that have been working the floor since before recycling became a “thing”.

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I got to dive into the heart of what the realities of recycling plastics really are.  It was satisfying, overwhelming and incredibly sobering.  When you are standing there looking at how much material enters these facilities…and you think of what would happen to our environment IF we didn’t recycle…it’s honestly horrifying.  The sheer scale of how much we use is shocking.

It is though eclipsed by the fact that 70% of the PET that can be recycled in NC never makes it to these recycling plants.

It’s a reality of our lives that we don’t ever “see” unless you set foot into a MRF…a mainstream recycling facility.  I actually got palpitations standing there on the raised metal decking and seeing the mountain of combined recycled material.  What I presumed was perhaps a weeks worth of material, was unbelievably only the amount that they would process in the next 2-3 hours.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was fully overwhelmed in every way by the volume of what I saw there.  How could there be that much?  And this was just one city, just one average sized city’s (Raleigh) worth.

As I next visited the three other facilities, my daughter traveled with me, being a second camera and assisting me in not missing angles and shots.

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I wondered how seeing this would shape her view of this industry that goes unseen, this industry that so many espouse being proud of “sure…I recycle!”…yet they have no idea just how critical it truly is and how much work they do for all of us.  I also learned how connected recycling is to jobs.

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A lot of jobs are created via recycling.  When the campaign says “Your Bottle Means Jobs”, they are being literal.  It’s just the kind of thing that video should be used for…to tell this kind of story, to have some kind of impact.

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I love how storytelling gives your entrance into places you normally wouldn’t ever be allowed…meeting really cool people you never would have met.  The people that work at these facilities go to sleep at night with their eyes on the big movements.

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This video below is the short version that I concepted, shot and edited.  Heck, I even ended up doing the voiceover for the English version.  It was quite the learning experience.  I will release the longer version soon.  And the Espanol version of the short will be released ideally within a week.  As with all video…it’s hard to turn so much footage into such a short end product, but that is the fate of anyone creating video or short film.    I just sincerely hope that this video and the Your Bottle Means Jobs campaign gains traction.  If we can turn that 70/30 split into 100% recycled, that would be amazing and likely…quite necessary.

 

 

 

Mission: Recycling Matters

Recycling isn’t what you think it is.  It runs deep.  It is saving our planet.  And it is on the ropes.  Economically and politically we are in a losing battle with our excessive lifestyle.

For years I have wondered precisely what happens to a water bottle when it is recycled.  Where does it go?  Who takes it?  What is it turned into?

A few months ago I made a great connection with a local who, it turns out, is a high level expert on recycling of plastics…and waste management in general.  He mentioned that he is part of a group that is working hard to try to reinvigorate PET recycling here in the Carolinas.

 

I have teamed up with him and other associations to undertake capturing, in my own way, the story of plastics recycling.  The focus is here in the Carolinas but if one extrapolates the challenges happening here, as well as the successes, it is accurate to extend those conclusions nationwide, worldwide.

This kind of story is exactly why I got into video work.  I know that I say that about every project.  What can I say?  I love what I do.

Yesterday was spent travelling to South Carolina to film in three different facilities.  I am sort of at a loss for words to say what it was like.  The recycling industry, when taken as a whole is overwhelming.  The amount of good that it can do, is palpable, but the amount of work it takes is staggering really…commendable.

Only 30% of goods that can be recycled here in the Carolinas are currently being recycled.  Yep…7 of your 10 pals are throwing away perfectly recyclable plastic.  This project is an attempt to turn that number up a bit.  Why not have everyone recycle?

The first thing to know about recycling is that it is an incredibly dirty business.  It’s also filled with fantastic technologies, progressive thinkers, and a lot of really hard workers on the sorting floors.

Anyways…my trip to SC was fruitful.  I have one more day this upcoming week.  I can’t wait to put together the footage into a shiny new video…and down the road would love to see it spun into a documentary.  This trip was especially fun because my daughter went with me as an assistant.  I gave her my Nikon D300o to play with and my 1.8/50mm lens.  She put it in manual mode and never looked back, manually focused everything.  Over the years I have taught her a bit about composition.  I hope you like the shots she took here…there are some really lovely ones.

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