The hidden junk industry

  • January 14, 2014

American writer Adam Minter will talk about the hidden world of globalised recycling at a Gates Conversation on Friday.

American writer Adam Minter will be discussing the hidden world of globalised recycling at a Gates Conversation on Friday.

Minter is author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade. As a freelance journalist, he has covered a range of topics for publications that include The Atlantic, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, Mother Jones, Scientific American, ARTnews and Sierra.

Minter, who is the son of a scrapyard owner, will share his insider’s account of globalised recycling from the US to China in the Gates Conversation on Friday, 5-6pm, in the Gates Common Room.

In 2002, he began a series of groundbreaking investigative pieces on China’s emerging recycling industries for Scrap Magazine and, later, Recycling International that were recognised, in 2004, with the first Stephen Barr Award for individual excellence in business feature writing. Since then, he has been cited, quoted, and interviewed on recycling and waste by a range of international media. He is currently the Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View.

In his book, he charts the globalisation of the recycling trade, focusing on the US and China, and featuring everything from self-made scrap-metal tycoons to late-night rubbish pickers. Minter discusses the complex issues thrown up by China’s growing wealth and finds that the more complex the technology, the harder it is to reuse the metals. He concludes that reducing the amount of waste produced is the solution.

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