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Adam Minter discusses "Junkyard Planet: Inside the Multibillion-Dollar Trade in American Trash'

There’s gold in your garbage can.

When you drop your pop can or 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 Minnesota junkyard owner--travels into a vast, often-hidden, 500-billion-dollar industry that’s transforming our economy and environment.

Minter takes us from back-alley Chinese computer recycling operations to recycling factories capable of processing a jumbo jet’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 “going green” usually means making money—and why that’s often the most sustainable choice, even when the recycling methods aren’t pretty.

Minter traces the export of America’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 don’t. Junkyard Planet reveals that Americans might need to learn a smarter way to take out the trash.


Adam Minter is an American writer who 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. In addition to his freelance work, Adam is Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View. Adam has covered the global recycling industry for more than a decade. Adam and his wife currently divide their time between Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, and the western suburbs of Minneapolis. Learn more at his blog,


Date: 11/15/2013
Time: 7:00pm - 8:00pm

38 S Snelling Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55105