How can garbage turn into gold? What does recycling have to do with globalization? Where does all that stuff we throw away go, anyway?
When you drop your Diet Coke can or yesterdayâ s newspaper in the recycling bin, where does it go? Probably halfway around the world, to people and places that clean up what you donâ t want and turn it into something you canâ t wait to buy. In Junkyard Planet, Adam Minterâ veteran journalist and son of an American junkyard ownerâ travels deeply into a vast, often hidden, 500-billion-dollar industry thatâ s transforming our economy and environment.
Minter takes us from back-alley Chinese computer recycling operations to recycling factories capable of processing a jumbo jetâ 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 â going greenâ ? usually means making moneyâ and why thatâ s often the most sustainable choice, even when the recycling methods arenâ 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 Americaâ 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 donâ t. Junkyard Planet reveals that Americans might need to learn a smarter way to take out the trash.