Junkyard Planet: Travels In The Billion-dollar Trash Trade by Adam MinterJunkyard Planet: Travels In The Billion-dollar Trash Trade by Adam Minter

Junkyard Planet: Travels In The Billion-dollar Trash Trade

byAdam Minter

Hardcover | November 12, 2013

Pricing and Purchase Info

$26.89 online 
$27.50 list price
Earn 134 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


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.

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. Junkyar...
Title:Junkyard Planet: Travels In The Billion-dollar Trash TradeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.41 × 6.48 × 1.17 inPublished:November 12, 2013Publisher:Bloomsbury USALanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1608197913

ISBN - 13:9781608197910

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 4 out of 5 by from amazing insights into the recycling industry this was a fascinating read - much more than expected. Minter gives a personal and knowledgeable tour of recycling enterprises in the US, Asia and Africa. It gave me new understanding of the interests, benefits and driving forces behind recycling, the beneficial role it can play in developing countries, and in our long-term sustainability.
Date published: 2016-01-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, 25% too long The information is good, practical, how-it-really-works. But like many books, it strives to be an certain length and the last few chapters felt quite repetitive.
Date published: 2014-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating read! I thought I was recycling because I separated my paper products- green conscious because I checked the rating on plastic packaging. I could not put this book down, once I started reading. Clearly, North Americans know and understand very little about the real business of recycling. I'm going to have to work harder at separating 'green' from 'consumer'.
Date published: 2014-05-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Junkyard Planet Fascinating insight into what happens after the recycle bin gets dumped in the truck in your back lane. Well written, objective and insightful. A must-read for anyone concerned with the health of our planet.
Date published: 2013-12-30

Editorial Reviews

"Eye-opening. [Minter is] an excellent guide to this sprawling and bewildering trade." -Wall Street Journal"Superbly researched." -Financial Times "A satisfying investigation-cum-travelogue." -Mother Jones"Fascinating" -Atlantic Cities"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"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