Seeing Our Industry Through Fresh Eyes

Plastics professionals spend their days surrounded by incredibly smart people, amazing technology and fascinating science, so they can easily forget just how unique their world is. To get an idea of the impact that the videos created for Recycling is Real will have on people who have never gone “inside plastics” before, PLASTICS Magazine reached out to members of the external production and media team that is shooting and editing content for Recycling is Real: Anfon Ha, Director of Videography at IMGE digital marketing agency and Danielle Ferrandino, Senior Account Manager for IMGE on the Recycling is Real initiative.


Anfon has shot in a lot of unique locations, and the plastics industry didn’t disappoint. Observing the mysteries of recycling, Anfon joked, was a bit like the amazing experience National Geographic crews must get from observing wildlife in a natural habitat. “As film makers we look for untold stories, at least that’s my mindset,” he said. “Seeing recycling done in real time—trash to treasure—is something that I certainly haven’t seen before.”

For Danielle, the sheer breadth of what she encountered was amazing. Prior to attending a Recycling is Real shoot, her understanding of recycling stopped at the blue bin she fills up for someone else to come along and empty the next morning. “It was like seeing everything underneath an iceberg,” she said, “the full weight of everything that the industry does regarding sustainability, renewable products and more. I was impressed by just how far the community reaches. It gave me an idea of the social good that plastics bring beyond just manufacturing merchandise.”

The activity of the IMGE video crews, whose work is distributed online at is coordinated by Anthony DiGrado, PLASTICS’ manager for digital affairs. Having just arrived in the plastics industry himself over the past year and spending that time advocating for the industry on social media, he has enjoyed meeting the people behind his posts.

“Working at PLASTICS, we see people attacking the industry every day,” Anthony said. “Being able to meet the people who are the industry is re-energizing and adds a sense of purpose to what we’re doing.” Making these videos has also opened Anthony’s eyes to the incredible size of the plastics industry. “There are many, many people in all fifty states doing very complex things with plastics that allow us to live the life we do. And they do it with little fanfare,” he said.

In addition to expressing his admiration for the people who make recycling happen, Anthony wasquick to throw a little fanfare toward his video crew colleagues and their ability to adapt in the field.

“Every time we go on location, we have a plan,” he said. “But the moment we step on the production floor we see something unexpected that makes us say ‘that needs to be in the video.’

It’s fascinating to see the video team’s creative process unfold in real time. Every facility is different, with a unique story to tell.”

Recycling is real…and human

One of the most important goals of Recycling is Real is to introduce people who believe in recycling and make it happen every day, all across the country. Both Anfon and Danielle were exceptionally impressed by the human element in recycling.

“It’s so much more than a job, a way to put food on the table, for these individuals. There’s a big point of pride,” said Danielle. “I think I saw that in all of the employees we met.” Danielle went on to recall a man who enjoys explaining recycling to his five-year-old, hoping that well-informed children will be able to impact the world through recycling. “That boy gets to see his dad do hard work, sometimes grueling work, in order to make a difference.”

Anfon, who in another aspect of life is a magician, was fascinated by the magical machinations behind the recycling process. “The engineers are constantly looking for a new way to make things more efficient and to sustain. That’s their mindset. Their goal every day. Sounds pretty fulfilling to me,” he said. “In my experience, chemistry was just about trying to get an ‘A’ in a classroom but these people are trying to make a better future for our planet, trying to tackle sustainability for the rest of us. It’s like watching some superheroes do their jobs!”

Misinformation meets truth

Danielle offered an interesting 20-something perspective on attitudes toward plastics when she said, ‘I grew up in the generation of hearing about microplastics and dangers,” she said. “I feel like all I hear from my generation is the dangers of it.”

Going on to note how much her opinion has been shaped by the media and the warnings she grew up on, Danielle shared what it was like to see those narratives challenged by reality. “I really didn’t know what to expect coming out of it,” she said, “and I walked away knowing that plastic isn’t the incredible danger and harm that I was always told.”

Getting out with the Recycling is Real crew gave Danielle an opportunity to meet people of her own generation who can speak in favor of plastics and recycling with the same passion anti-plastics activists bring to the table—and with real-world experience to back up what they say—was a real eye-opener for Danielle.“It’s probably not an easy industry to work in, especially if you’re younger. You probably get a lot of looks from people if you say you work for the plastics industry,” Danielle shared. “But the younger people we spoke to were well informed and able to explain the good that they’re doing. They’re not just doing the job to do a job. They genuinely understand the impact of the work that they’re doing, I thought that was really impressive.”

Anfon commented on the interaction among generations he witnessed. “The obvious hope is that this can go on forever, be passed down, generation to generation. Seeing all the young blood and new faces proves that this is a sustainable industry.”

Anfon also saw the genuine passion for recycling those generations are passing along. “You hear people say all the time, ‘I’m sustainable. I recycle. I’m a tree hugger.’ But to see people actually do the job, who actually believe in saving the planet is completely different,” he said. “One woman we interviewed said something along the lines of, ‘If we weren’t recycling, I don’t think I could work here.’ That was powerful.” That’s a strong statement from someone who has made as many videos on as many subjects as Anfon has.

So, what did it all boil down to for the folks who set out to help us tell the world recycling is real?

According to Anfon, “I believe that I understood plastic recycling was real, but now I can honestly say I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I can believe and trust that it’s real.”

For Danielle, it’s changed her perceptions of not just plastics but of recycling day at home. “When I go to recycle items, I’m not thinking that it’s a pain to lug things from my kitchen to the blue bin,” she said. “I’m remembering the people working in the plant every single day, putting in all that hard work. It doesn’t take that much effort for me to put things in that blue bin!”