Summary of Junkyard Planet

Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade

Bloomsbury Press, more...

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Junkyard Planet book summary
This eye-opening investigation into the global-waste industry tells the truth behind the recycling hype.


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Adam Minter, a Shanghai-based journalist and son of a scrapyard owner, tours the world’s waste “grubbing” hot spots to provide a savvy view of the processes, triumphs and failures of the scrap industry. He focuses mainly on recycling metals, but also covers plastics and the contentious topic of “e-waste.” His research highlights the importance of profit in the chain of waste-management and recycling. Some of the worst health and environmental side-effects relate directly to recycling cheap plastics, a business with minuscule margins. In contrast, profitable metal recycling is a worldwide “green success.” getAbstract recommends this ecological travelogue to those seeking to understand the global impact – and opportunities – of booming consumption and the resulting disposal of products. The recycling picture is more complex than you might think, given the mix of materials, motives and morals involved.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How scrap from US consumer waste helps build China’s infrastructure
  • How scale and profit margins in recycling affect health, wealth and the environment
  • Why recycling can drive increased consumption


“Third-Best Option”
Americans throw out a lot of Christmas tree lights. Most US recyclers don’t care about extracting these lights’ low-value, low-grade copper, but Chinese buyers take them. A recycling plant in Shijiao shreds them and recovers the copper wire for resale. Some waste remains...
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About the Author

Southeast Asia-based journalist Adam Minter writes for Bloomberg View and for recycling-oriented publications such as Scrap and Recycling International.

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