Reduce, reuse, recycle. It's a mantra we're all familiar with. But a new Frontline documentary detailed how so many of the plastic items we've been conditioned to throw in those blue bins doesn't actually get recycled at all.

Laura Sullivan, NPR and FRONTLINE investigative correspondent, joined Boston Public Radio on Tuesday to discuss her new documentary,"Plastic Wars," which airs Tuesday night at 10 p.m., Eastern on PBS.

"Less than 10 percent of plastic has ever been recycled," she said.

Plastics make up much of our daily consumption: they're in the containers that hold our produce and milk, and the bags we bring that food home in. The material, made from oil, has been on environmentalists' radars since the 1970s as a contributor to global pollution levels. Through Sullivan's reporting, the documentary reveals that consumers were duped by the oil industry into thinking recycling would solve that problem.

"The oil industry knew that recycling plastic was unlikely to be economically viable on a large scale, dating back to the 70s, these were some of these documents we went in search of from this industry," she said. "Through insiders we found, we found three top officials from the industry in the 90s said that getting the public to embrace recycling plastic and promoting it and selling it ... was a ways to sell more plastic."