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Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Tradeby Adam Minter
Synopses & Reviews
When you drop your Diet Coke can or yesterday's newspaper in the recycling bin, where does it go? Probably halfway around the world — where your trash becomes, literally, someones treasure. In Junkyard Planet, Adam Minter offers eye-opening insights into how American refuse drives a vast $250 billion industry that reaches every corner of the globe, with profound effects on both our economy and our environment.
Minter is a veteran journalist with unmatched access to and insight on the waste industry — but even better, he has the explanatory gifts and an eye for detail worthy of a John McPhee or William Langewiesche. He takes us not merely behind the scenes, but into the bowels of giant facilities that process a jumbo jets worth of trash every day, as well as the boardrooms of global companies who squeeze billions of dollars from stuff we leave at the curb. Junkyard Planet reveals how “going green” has become a lucrative and internationally influential business — and also how environmentally abusive the process can be at the nitty-gritty end: Minter also shows us the back streets where Chinese workers melt down the circuits of tossed-out cellphones.
Tracing the export of Americas garbage — and the massive profits that China and other rising nations earn from it — Minter spins a tale that's both engaging, colorful, and troubling. Our profligacy with stuff brings home the decline of the American economy and the ascent of the developing world. Junkyard Planet reveals that Americans might need to learn a smarter way to take out the trash.
“Minter successfully resists oversimplifying the issue China currently faces — with a growing middle class demanding more raw materials for new construction, the options are living with the pollution caused by recycling or the environmental consequences of mining for raw materials….Minter concludes that the solution is in the first word in the phrase, ‘Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” Publishers Weekly
“A satisfying investigation-cum-travelogue.” Mother Jones
“Minter is here to tell you that there's big money to be made in what American consumers and industries throw away. As he travels the world from Houston to Guangzhou, surveying the debris and discards that fill scrap yards and warehouses, Minter takes the reader into a world of commodities trading that is every bit as lucrative and cutthroat as anything on Wall Street. The son of a scrap man, Minter brings an insider's knowledge and appreciation for an industry that no one thinks about, everyone contributes to, and a lucky few profit from.” Booklist
How can garbage turn into gold? What does recycling have to do with globalization? Where does all that stuff we throw away go, anyway?
About the Author
Adam Minter grew up in a family of scrap dealers in Minneapolis. He became a professional journalist and now serves as the Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View, in addition to making regular contributions to the Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and other publications. He now lives in Shanghai and blogs at shanghaiscrap.com. Junkyard Planet is his first book.
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