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Documentary shows what happens to old planes, trams

A Canadian documentary aims to shine a light on the things we create and leave behind as waste, and those who come up with new ways to reuse them.

The ‘Scrap’ trailer cycles through weathered cars lined up in a forest with foliage growing on them, the ghostly image of hundreds of empty and dilapidated chipped red telephone boxes in a field, and children playing on fenders broken planes.

“We consume and throw away, but we don’t think about what happens with all the waste we produce,” says a voice over these visuals.

The documentary, which premiered at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival last spring and was released in select theaters across Canada in October, explores the idea of ​​what happens to discarded items. and how reuse can be greener than recycling.

“I basically wanted to know where things are going,” Stacey Tenenbaum, creative producer and director of Scrap, told CTV News Channel.

We rarely think about what happens to large objects when they are no longer in use, such as planes, boats, trams, telephone booths, she said.

“This movie kind of looks for those places where things end up, and it also follows people who reuse those things. Many of them ended up being artists. It wasn’t intentional, but I think it’s kind of interesting because art brings a new perspective to environmental issues.

The documentary tells the story of scrap metal by focusing on a few key people and how they reuse discarded items.

“So in the case of ships, I was following an architect who transformed an old ship and turned it into a church,” Tenenbaum said.

Tchely Hyung-Chul Shin, a professor at the Grenoble School of Architecture in France, has been designing architectural projects with his wife and fellow architect Claire Shin since 2007.

The church is their second ship reassignment project. The first was an art installation created from an “abandoned ocean liner,” according to Scrap’s website, and was called Temp’L. It has since been turned into coffee in South Korea.

“Everyone I was following had kind of creative solutions to the massive amounts of waste created by these huge end-of-life objects,” Tenenbaum said.

Some of those featured include a sculptor who creates metal artwork from discarded farm equipment, a man who restores old telephone booths, and another man who restores old streetcars.

The documentary also looks at a car museum that was once a junkyard, where people can come and photograph more than 4,400 historic cars that are half-consumed by the growth of nature around them.

Some people are even turning abandoned airplanes into living spaces.

“In Bangkok there’s an airplane graveyard where a lot of tourists go and they take pictures and stuff like that, but what they didn’t know is that there’s a family living there. down in that kind of airplane graveyard,” Tenenbaum said.

“They live inside a repurposed plane, so they’ve turned a plane into their home, and basically this woman is supporting her family by charging tourists to come and take pictures.”

In another part of the documentary, they look at ongoing recycling in India, where cell phones are dismantled to extract the precious metals they contain.

But what the documentary showed him overall, Tenenbaum said, is that “recycling isn’t really a long-term solution.”

Canada creates three million tonnes of plastic waste every year, of which only 9% is actually recycled, according to a federal government report in 2019. Most of what we put in our recycling bins simply ends up in landfills, with the recycling expensive and very selective process. For example, items contaminated with the slightest amount of food waste cannot be recycled.

We need to look for other solutions to recycling, Tenenbaum said, and directly reusing items instead of trying to take them apart to completely rebuild them is one of those solutions.

“Instead of throwing things away, I think we need to change our momentum and really think about this thing, [how] we can extend its life, or reuse it in a different way, or donate it for other people to use.

She noted that for the theatrical release of the documentary, they allowed viewers to turn in old cell phones so they could redistribute them to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

“They take your old cell phones, they give you a tax receipt for the donation, and they clean the cell phones and load them with apps to help visually impaired people navigate the world,” she explained.

The film is not just about being environmentally conscious, but about our connection to the things humanity creates, she added.

“It’s something that I was watching in the movie, it’s just our fascination with these things, and our attachment to them, and kind of what we lose when things are just dropped and don’t have repurposing. as a goal. We’re losing parts of our history and our cultural memory and all kinds of things. So that’s something I wanted to show in the film.

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