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Do you know where your plastic goes?




In Jenjarom, a small palm plantation town approximately 50 kilometers outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the smell of burnt plastic crept across the town every night entering the homes of residents, stirring them awake. After months of sleepless nights, a few local residents decided to investigate the source of the smell, forming The Environmental Protection Agency of Kuala Langat.

Under cover of night, ride along with agency activists Pua Lay Peng and CK Lee as they search for illegal recycling facilities, and learn about their work to expose, fight, and prevent the illegal importation of plastic waste.

12 minutes
English Subtitles

Directed by Marlena Skrobe
Produced by Marlena Skrobe
Executive Producer: Yoshitaka Ota
Writer: Marlena Skrobe
Editor: Marlena Skrobe, Troy Dobbertin
Original Music: Carla Khilstedt, Matthias Bossi
Cinematography: Troy Dobbertin

We offer two basic screening options: in-person or virtual. Book an in-person screening using the button below. For an online screening, fill out the virtual screening request form.

For more information on virtual screening options, visit our Learn About Screenings page.



$59 Community Screening

"This record of the inexcusable destruction and poisoning of Malaysian land and people is devastating, and the bravery of these local activists inspiring. It is not just that our globalized 'system' of plastics recycling is broken; Malaysia's dirty recyclers are small players in a bigger system, the tip of the iceberg. It is the plastics manufacturers, petrochemical and packaging industries that must be held accountable for these crimes, as the vast majority of the plastics documented here have no safe and economically viable means of being recycled anywhere on the planet. Until we stop making these materials, they will be an environmental scourge."
Joshua Lewis Goldstein, Professor of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Southern California

"THEY KEEP QUIET SO WE MAKE NOISE provides an important perspective on the fate of recycled plastics and how just placing recyclables in the proper bin does little to guarantee that it is treated properly down the chain. It also highlights the importance of grassroots environmental organizations in places where recycled plastics are exported to and the struggles that they face protecting the health of their communities. This film hits on a lot of topics that I cover in Environmental Science and Conservation Biology classes, and could help inform recycling and waste management education and inspire future environmental advocates."
Matthew Lundquist, Assistant Professor of Biology, Marymount Manhattan College

"This is a compelling account of the hidden costs, social justice dimensions and human health consequences of plastic consumption."
Leah Gerber, Professor of Conservation Science, Director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Arizona State University

"The unending stream of plastic waste now carries our discarded bottles and packaging to places like the illegal 'recycling' factories in Malaysia, which reclaim the most valuable fraction and burn or dump the rest. With regulators unable or unwilling to crack down, the local activists featured in THEY KEEP QUIET SO WE MAKE NOISE call on the exporting countries to bear their share of the hidden costs of the global waste trade. This video is essential viewing for students to observe some of the local environmental impacts of globalization and for communities to see how their local waste management choices have global repercussions."
Mark Henderson, Professor of Public Policy, Mills College at Northeastern University

"THEY KEEP QUIET SO WE MAKE NOISE provides an impactful glimpse at one of many 'aways' that underlie the globalized plastic recycling industry, highlighting local resistance to polluting processors. The film will be an excellent educational resource for grappling with what happens beyond recycling bins."
Adam Liebman, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, DePauw University, Author, Uncontained: Waste Circulations in and Beyond China (forthcoming)
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