Skip to main content
Michigan State University

Plastic Wars: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

MSU Recycling Center

November 16, 2023

Film, Talks, Panels, and Presentations

Visit This Event Page


In recognition of America Recycles Day the MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center, in collaboration with campus partners, will host a film screening and panel discussion of Plastic Wars, a Frontline documentary that’s sure to spark conversation.

The screening will take place on Thurs., Nov. 16, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. in the MSU Recycling material recovery facility (MRF), where 6 – 8 million pounds of recyclables are processed every year. The MSU Recycling Center is located at 468 Green Way, East Lansing, MI 48823.

Aired in 2020, Plastic Wars briefly highlights the history of how we got into this plastic pollution mess to begin with and reminds viewers of its relationship to the oil industry. In doing so, the film illustrates the challenges consumers face when trying to reduce single-use plastics — an action that runs counter to the profit motives of oil companies.

Through investigative journalism and interviews with insiders, Plastic Wars brings to light the ways in which plastic production and disposal often exacerbate environmental and social justice issues across the globe.

The film addresses some of the myths and truths around the impact of recycling and offers insight on why the legitimacy of recycling has been questioned in recent years. While Plastic Wars remains focused on recycling, it doesn’t shy away from showing us why that isn’t the only solution we need.

Doors open at 3:30 p.m., and the screening begins at 4 p.m. At the conclusion of the film, around 5 p.m., a moderator will facilitate a half-hour panel discussion combined with an audience Q & A session. The conversation will be moderated by MSU student Dani Vincent, who works as the Sustainability Assistant with Student Life & Engagement and is majoring in Environmental Studies & Sustainability.

– Sean Barton: Diversion Coordinator at the MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center, who manages the material recovery facility and day-to-day waste diversion operations.

– Jill Brown: Account Executive at Metro Recycling Solutions, the brokerage company that connects MSU Recycling to local and regional buyers who turn recyclable material into feedstock.

-Pedro Noel Doreste: Postdoctoral Fellow at the Diaspora Solidarities Lab, incoming Assistant Professor in Film Studies at MSU, and documentary film researcher.

-Muhammad Rabnawaz: Associate professor in MSU’s School of Packaging, lead researcher for the Sustainable Materials Group, and recent inductee into the National Academy of Inventors.

Before and after the film, attendees will have the opportunity to explore the MRF and see how MSU processes plastics and other campus recyclables before shipping them to local and regional vendors for conversion into post-consumer recycled content. Find out how MSU keeps it local, sending 95% of bales to Michigan processors.

This free and public event is offered in collaboration with Student Life & Engagement, student Eco Reps, and the Film Studies Program. Plastic Wars is presented in partnership with WKAR, the local PBS and NPR affiliate station based on campus.

RSVP is strongly encouraged for planning purposes, please visit