Cover image for
Title:
Junkyard planet : travels in the billion-dollar trash trade
Author(s):
Minter, Adam, 1970-
ISBN/ISSN:
9781608197910

1608197913
Personal Author:
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Physical Description:
284 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Contents:
Map -- A note on numbers -- Introduction -- Making soup -- Grubbing -- Honey, barley -- The intercontinental -- The backhaul -- The grimy boomtown heat -- Big waste country -- Homer -- Plastic land -- The reincarnation department -- The golden ingot -- The coin tower -- Hot metal flows -- Canton -- Ashes to ashes, junk to junk -- Afterword -- Acknowledgments -- Index.
Abstract:
"When you drop your Diet Coke can or yesterday's newspaper in the recycling bin, where does it go? Probably halfway around the world, to people and places that clean up what you don't want and turn it into something you can't wait to buy. In Junkyard Planet, Adam Minter-- veteran journalist and son of an American junkyard owner-- travels deeply into a vast, often hidden, multibillion-dollar industry that's transforming our economy and environment. Minter takes us from back-alley Chinese computer recycling operations to recycling factories capable of processing a jumbo jet's worth of trash every day. Along the way, we meet an international cast of characters who have figured out how to squeeze Silicon Valley-scale fortunes from what we all throw away. Junkyard Planet reveals how "going green" usually means making money-- and why that's often the most sustainable choice, even when the recycling methods aren't pretty. With unmatched access to and insight on the waste industry, and the explanatory gifts and an eye for detail worthy of a John McPhee or William Langewiesche, Minter traces the export of America's garbage and the massive profits that China and other rising nations earn from it. What emerges is an engaging, colorful, and sometimes troubling tale of how the way we consume and discard stuff brings home the ascent of a developing world that recognizes value where Americans don't. Junkyard Planet reveals that Americans might need to learn a smarter way to take out the trash"--Jacket.
Pub Date:
Bloomsbury Press, 2013.
Holds:

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Central - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 338.4736372 M667
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Central - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 338.4736372 M667
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Central - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 338.4736372 M667
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Summary

Summary

When you drop your Diet Coke can or yesterday's newspaper in the recycling bin, where does it go? Probably halfway around the world, to people and places that clean up what you don't want and turn it into something you can't wait to buy. In Junkyard Planet , Adam Minter--veteran journalist and son of an American junkyard owner--travels deeply into a vast, often hidden, multibillion-dollar industry that's transforming our economy and environment. Minter takes us from back-alley Chinese computer recycling operations to high-tech facilities capable of processing a jumbo jet's worth of recyclable trash every day. Along the way, we meet an unforgettable cast of characters who've figured out how to build fortunes from what we throw away: Leonard Fritz, a young boy "grubbing" in Detroit's city dumps in the 1930s; Johnson Zeng, a former plastics engineer roaming America in search of scrap; and Homer Lai, an unassuming barber turned scrap titan in Qingyuan, China. Junkyard Planet reveals how "going green" usually means making money--and why that's often the most sustainable choice, even when the recycling methods aren't pretty. With unmatched access to and insight on the junk trade, and the explanatory gifts and an eye for detail worthy of a John McPhee or William Langewiesche, Minter traces the export of America's recyclables and the massive profits that China and other rising nations earn from it. What emerges is an engaging, colorful, and sometimes troubling tale of consumption, innovation, and the ascent of a developing world that recognizes value where Americans don't. Junkyard Planet reveals that we might need to learn a smarter way to take out the trash.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Out of sight, out of mind. That's the typical sentiment of even the most meticulous recycler who doesn't really think about where those carefully sorted cans, bottles, magazines and newspapers go after they've been picked up curbside. From big screen TVs to the tiniest of Christmas tree lights, there's a world of trash or, in the parlance, scrap out there. And lest one think that it all ends up in a landfill for future archaeologists to ponder, 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.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Growing up as the son of a scrap dealer in Minneapolis, Minter learned firsthand that one man's trash is truly another man's treasure. In his first book, the Shanghai-based journalist charts the globalization of the recycling trade, focusing on the U.S. and China, and featuring a cast that ranges from self-made scrap-metal tycoons to late-night garbage pickers. Notable passages include a trip to Wen'an, one of China's most notoriously polluted plants where employees process hazardous materials while wearing sandals. 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 takes readers through the Shanghai market where parts are harvested from second-hand electronics, but finds that the more complex the technology, the harder it is to reuse the metals. The scrap trade is one of the few business ventures possible in the developing world and this "profession for outsiders" shows no signs of slowing down. Minter concludes that the solution is in the first word in the phrase, "Reduce. Reuse. Recycle." 2 16-page color inserts. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Choice Review

"Reduce, reuse, recycle" is a mantra taught to generations of American school children as keys to good environmental stewardship, especially recycling. Minter, a Shanghai-based journalist who grew up in his family's Minnesota scrap business, deftly illustrates the reality of the global recycling industry. Family stories, personal observations, and interviews with American and Chinese scrap corporate executives describe how recycling has grown from humble beginnings to a lucrative global trade. Not as closely monitored or regulated as others, recycling is estimated to account for over a billion dollars in trade and is the second-largest employer after agriculture. Standard business decisions drive the industry, which means that products collected and sorted by families and businesses may still end up at landfills if no consumers are found for those materials. Unfortunately the environmental efforts in one country may result in significant pollution in another, depending on the attitudes and the regulatory requirements of the latter. Despite these grim consequences, Minter illustrates how recycling has become an important source of raw materials for the international manufacturing industry. While not a high priority for research collections, this book is appropriate for undergraduate collections, especially those supporting environmental and public policy programs. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduate students and general readers. K. L. Carriveau Jr. Baylor University


Table of Contents

Mapp. xi
A Note on Numbersp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
1 Making Soupp. 12
2 Grubbingp. 28
3 Honey, Barleyp. 42
4 The Intercontinentalp. 60
5 The Backhaulp. 84
6 The Grimy Boomtown Heatp. 103
7 Big Waste Countryp. 116
8 Homerp. 131
9 Plastic Landp. 143
10 The Reincarnation Departmentp. 159
11 The Golden Ingotp. 182
12 The Coin Towerp. 212
13 Hot Metal Flowsp. 233
14 Cantonp. 243
15 Ashes to Ashes, Junk to Junkp. 250
Afterwordp. 267
Acknowledgmentsp. 271
Indexp. 275

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