Upcycling, Recycling + Waste

The best films on waste: documentaries and short films on zero waste, plastic, cradle to cradle and e-waste.

Too often this garbage ends up in the ocean or in the Global South where it is a growing danger for human beings and the environment as a whole. To accommodate a growing world population and the global striving for a western standard of living, a rethinking is desperately needed. The movies listed below provide ample background information and offer a platform for pioneers who highlight new ways of meeting the present challenges:

  • Recycling converts waste materials into reusable objects to prevent waste of potentially useful materials.
  • Upcycling transforms by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.
  • Cradle to Cradle design seeks to create products and systems that are efficient and waste free. It views materials as nutrients that are either organic and shall be recirculated within nature's biological metabolism or "technical nutrients" that shall be maintained within a productive technical metabolism.
  • Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials in daily life, conserving and recovering all resources.

Be inspired!

If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production. - Pete Seeger

Our Film Tips

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Waste Land

What we throw away, does not go away: It simply ends up somewhere else. Brazilian Artist Vik Muniz realizes a project with outlawed trash pickers on one of the biggest landfills on the planet. They create artworks and gain a new perspective on themselves. International attention leads to a modern recycling center and a more dignified work place.
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Trashed

Everybody produces it and nobody wants it next door. So trash is transported thousands of miles across the country. Using the USA as its leading example, "Trashed" shows the vast amount of resources wasted in landfills and gives a voice to people who boycott and bypass the present-day system on little and larger scales.
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The Light Bulb Conspiracy

What happens when machines produce more than is consumed? This film shows by means of examples what answers producers found in the course of the 20th century, their consequences – and what alternative paths individual companies tread. Watch here for free!
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Death by Design

Smartphones, TVs, laptops: They make life easier and are symbols of status. Due to the rapid development of innovation, electronic devices are now exchanged much faster and the average lifespan of a device is limited to only 2 years. The film shows the long-term effects of the digital revolution on the environment and humans.
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Welcome to Sodom

"Welcome to Sodom" shows the living conditions of the people at the bottom end of the global value chain: the recycling of waste in Ghana.

More Films

The Most Interesting Clips

KLEAN - The movie

KLEAN - The movie

Peter Smith at World Forum ECCE2013

Peter Smith at World Forum ECCE2013

No Such Thing As Waste

No Such Thing As Waste

The Ocean Cleanup - The Beginning

The Ocean Cleanup - The Beginning

Gyre: Creating Art From a Plastic Ocean

Gyre: Creating Art From a Plastic Ocean

The Plastic Gyre

The Plastic Gyre

One Plastic Beach

One Plastic Beach

Zero Waste with Bea Johnson

Zero Waste with Bea Johnson

Cradle to Cradle: Nie mehr Müll - Leben ohne Abfall

Cradle to Cradle: Nie mehr Müll - Leben ohne Abfall

The Ocean Clean Up Kid

The Ocean Clean Up Kid

Landfill Harmonic

Landfill Harmonic

An Island Made from Plastic Bottles

An Island Made from Plastic Bottles

Environmental Impact of Cigarette Butts

Environmental Impact of Cigarette Butts

The Paper Recycling Process

The Paper Recycling Process

Shark Against Plastic

Shark Against Plastic

Wie kommt Plastik ins Meer?

Wie kommt Plastik ins Meer?

The Animals Save the Planet - Supermarket Bags

The Animals Save the Planet - Supermarket Bags

Loop Scoops: Magazine

Loop Scoops: Magazine

Der PET-Kreislauf

Der PET-Kreislauf

Le Circuit du PET

Le Circuit du PET

Pacific Garbage Screening

Pacific Garbage Screening

iameco Computers

iameco Computers

Albatross

Albatross

What really happens to the plastic you throw away

What really happens to the plastic you throw away

How Much Plastic is in the Ocean?

How Much Plastic is in the Ocean?

Gold in our Trash - Urban Mining

Gold in our Trash - Urban Mining

A Plastic Odyssey

A Plastic Odyssey

You Can Eat This "Plastic" Wrap

You Can Eat This "Plastic" Wrap

Zero Waste Now

Zero Waste Now

Manila's Zero Waste Neighborhoods

Manila's Zero Waste Neighborhoods