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Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade Hardcover – 16 Jan 2014
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Minter successfully resists oversimplifying the issue China currently faces - with a growing middle class demanding more raw material 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)
A detailed view of a mostly unknown business that touches the lives of everyone, whether or not they ever dragged a trash and/or recycle bin out to the curb. (Kirkus Reviews)
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)
A satisfying investigation-cum-travelogue. (Mother Jones)
Fascinating. (Atlantic Cities)
Lively and entertaining...Junkyard Planet is a book for anyone interested in the environment, the economics of recycling, or a thoughtful look at the consumption we take for granted. (Brooklyn Bugle)
Eye-opening. [Minter is] an excellent guide to this sprawling and bewildering trade. (Wall Street Journal)
Superbly researched. (Financial Times)
How can garbage turn into gold? What does recycling have to do with globalization? Where does all that stuff we throw away go, anyway?See all Product description
Top customer reviews
His insight into some of the hidden and murky areas of China and it's methods are eye opening and revealing, particularly the time he spent in Guiyu but he does get bogged down in giving us detailed descriptions of almost every single person he encounters?... and the editing isn’t always up to standard.
Overall this is a patchy and uneven work that touches on some interesting points. The structure could have been more clear and defined. His digressions into his family business don’t always work or stimulate and get tiresome after a while. I would like to have seen the author develop some of his other ideas more like the misinformation surrounding recycling, which just seemed tagged on at the end as an afterthought.
Following our environmental intentions around the globe and looking at where and how they end up, the author engages us with his passion for the subject and introduces us to the many colourful characters involved in the scrap business.
He poses some interesting questions about both our own sentiments towards recycling and also the aspirational claims of some well known corporations - but for me, perhaps the most surprising thing, was the apparent lack of involvement by organised crime.
An interesting read.
Minter has been in China for over a decade, and his personal involvement and knowledge of scrap has gained him incredible access into an industry everyone contributes to but few people know much about. He takes us to Christmas light recycling facilities and car shredders, to Chinese plastics recycling towns to municipal recycling plants in Texas. Along the way, we meet a wonderful group of characters - my favorite was Leonard Fritz, who grew up very poor in Detroit in the 1930s, and scrapped his way to wealth. Also memorable is a Chinese scrap trader who spends his days driving across the United States in search of American scrap to send to China - Minter spends a prolonged period on the road, and what results is a story of globalization and personal fortitude. What makes Junkyard Planet so enjoyable (instead of a dry text on scrap) is the affection Minter has for these people, and his sympathy for the industry. He doesn't shy away from the industry's problems either (pollution, etc) and tries to present a balanced look at the good and bad.
All in all, a bloody good look at an important industry. I only wish that Minter had taken a look at some UK/European scrap yards and characters (the book is very much focused on US/Asia, though that doesn't make it irrelevant to others).
I couldn't care less about, say, which shirt and trousers people in the business dress. Yet, he goes on and on talking about the people, their personality, their stories, his stories... It's excruciating.
You could cut this book to a tenth, and the substance would be the same; not that it's bad information - the essence is interesting - it's just too much... garbage.
I had to stop after a few chapters.
My one reservation would be: it's a bit long - but I did reward through to the end with interest.
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