Streams

Junkyard Planet

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When you drop your Coke can or yesterday’s newspaper in the recycling bin, where does it go? Adam Minter—journalist and son of an American junkyard owner—tells us. He gives an account of a vast, often hidden, multibillion-dollar industry that’s transforming our economy and environment. In Junkyard Planet, Minter traces the export of America’s recyclables and the massive profits that China and other rising nations earn from it.

Guests:

Adam Minter

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Comments [24]

Sandra from NYC

Don't forget the First R: REFUSE! (or how about "Refuse Refuse" Ree-fuze Reh-fuse)

Great segment--will definitely read the book...more people should tour "recycling" plants overseas.

Hey jf: STOP YELLING!!!

Nov. 17 2013 04:28 PM
B. Nice

Dear moderator,

If someone can't follow simple message board etiquette (caps lock off), then please don't post their message. Thanks.

[[jf from REALITY

15 CONTAINERSHIPS POLLUTE AS MUCH AS ALL THE CARS IN THE WORLD. LOOK IT UP.
NEVER BUY AN IMPORT IF YOU DON'T WANT EVERYTHING TO DIE.]]

Nov. 13 2013 01:01 PM
Too many bags

[[mickey from Harlem
In Canada, we pay for shopping bags which has greatly reduced the waste created by them. It's something I think should be adopted here in the U.S.Eh! Nov. 13 2013 12:35 PM]]

My local wine store horribly over-packages at the checkout line. Each bottle gets its own paper bag and then they double up on the plastic bags. All this for the three-minute trip back to my apartment. I've got the grocer trained to get everything into one single bag and then I drop the wine bottle on top of that.

Best thing is to push canvas re-useable bags and charging for paper/plastic bags as you mention.

Nov. 13 2013 12:59 PM
Mark from Queens

I am definitely going to get this book, very interesting interview and topic.

Nov. 13 2013 12:56 PM
Allie from Inwood

Interviews like this are the reason I give to WNYC. Keep up the good work Mr. Lopate!

Nov. 13 2013 12:51 PM
Dan from Sleepy Hollow

Leonard said he doesn't see scrap yards any more. Most local scrap yards are now in warehouse buildings all over the City.

In addition, there are scrap yards along the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek. They fill barges with metal. I assume those barges then go to the large bulk material piers in Port Newark/Elizabeth for and then get consolidated for shipment (to China).

Nov. 13 2013 12:51 PM
Steve from Manhattan

What a great segment Lenny! Thanks for covering this interesting topic.

Nov. 13 2013 12:45 PM
ronnie from nj

regarding Mr. Mintner's comments that re-use is much preferable to recycling:
I've noticed that some small local grocery stores never return their plastic bread and beverage pallets to a distributor, but put them out with the trash every week even though they're in good, clean condition.
Does anyone have any idea why they would do this? It seems to me it would be just as easy to let a distributor pick them up, and that in fact the distributors would keep count of deliveries and demand them back. With one local bodega, the amount is several pallets a week almost every week for at least 10 years - i.e., a LOT of plastic ending up in landfills rather than re-used. Anyone in the biz know a valid reason for discarding them?

Nov. 13 2013 12:38 PM
jf from REALITY

15 CONTAINERSHIPS POLLUTE AS MUCH AS ALL THE CARS IN THE WORLD. LOOK IT UP.
NEVER BUY AN IMPORT IF YOU DON'T WANT EVERYTHING TO DIE.

Nov. 13 2013 12:38 PM
mickey from Harlem

When I was a kid we used to have a school project every year where we would bring something into class that was OVERPACKAGED and then we would write a letter to the manufacturer.
Thanks for mentioning REDUCE - the 3 R's of recycling seem to be forgotten. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle... recycle being the last resort!
In Canada, we pay for shopping bags which has greatly reduced the waste created by them. It's something I think should be adopted here in the U.S.Eh!

Nov. 13 2013 12:35 PM

My macroeconomics professor back at Rutgers coined the term 'gross national garbage' which was his shorthand for the fact that there is more value in America's garbage stream than the GDP for most nations.

Want an EASY pick up in GDP of 3-4%? Get recycling up to 90-95%. It doesn't have to be a shock to the system either. Start by designing new items for simple, easy re-use/recycling.

Thank you, Dr. Dutta.

Nov. 13 2013 12:35 PM
Joe

[[f from REALITY

GLASS IS THE BEST, WHEN IT MAKES IT'S WAY TO THE OCEAN IT DOES NOT BREAK DOWN INTO A TOXIC CHEMICAL SOUP LIKE PLASTIC! Nov. 13 2013 12:27 PM]]

Dude! Caps lock off.

Nov. 13 2013 12:34 PM
genejoke from Brooklyn

How should we recycle small batteries (AA, AAA, etc.)? I throw some into metal recycling, some into the garbage.

Nov. 13 2013 12:33 PM
Er-nay from UWS

Who is in the scrap business? Is it a family business?

Nov. 13 2013 12:32 PM
Amy from Manhattan

1. How much does the fuel burned to transport recyclables to China & the products made from them to other countries offset the ecological advantages of recycling itself?

2. Does the name "Tetra-Pak" mean there are 4, not 3, layers in this kind of packaging?

Thanks for this segment--this is important info!

Nov. 13 2013 12:31 PM
joe

[[Jane Ray
I may not know which bin to put my yogurt containers in, but my ears perked up when your guest, Adam Minter misused the word "expatiation". The word he was looking for was "expiation". Nov. 13 2013 12:21 PM]]

Well, if you're going to nitpick, you came to the right segment.

Nov. 13 2013 12:28 PM
jf from REALITY

GLASS IS THE BEST, WHEN IT MAKES IT'S WAY TO THE OCEAN IT DOES NOT BREAK DOWN INTO A TOXIC CHEMICAL SOUP LIKE PLASTIC!

Nov. 13 2013 12:27 PM
cc in Jc

I was just in Miami, Florida and they don't recycle, why?
The airline I flew back on recycles our plastic and wrappers.

Nov. 13 2013 12:22 PM
Jane Ray

I may not know which bin to put my yogurt containers in, but my ears perked up when your guest, Adam Minter misused the word "expatiation". The word he was looking for was "expiation".

Nov. 13 2013 12:21 PM
jf from REALITY

THE TRASH IS NOT OUR FAULT. CORPORATIONS MAKE IT. IT IS NOT NECESSARY. THERE WAS NOT PLASTIC TRASH A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. CORPORATIONS ARE DESTROYING THE PLANET WITH PLASTIC PACKAGING ALONG WITH EVERY SINGLE OTHER THING THEY DO. THE PACIFIC OCEAN IS DEAD.

Nov. 13 2013 12:20 PM
Kate Green

Please ask guest--if buying soda, which is the best container for recycling--aluminum, plastic, or glass? Which is most efficient, etc.? thanks....

Nov. 13 2013 12:20 PM
Donna from Scotch Plains, NJ

My town does not state what (#'s in the triangle) plastic we can recycle, so my husband puts anything in such as foam food containers & clear plastic food containers like strawberries come in. Others tell me we are not supposed to include those.

My husband says it is plastic so he puts it in!! Our town says do not include tops and he does, including beer bottle tops, cat food tops, etc. Is there any problem with that?

Nov. 13 2013 12:19 PM

Great segment idea and am enjoying the guest.

Question -- can awful ingredients unrelated to metal (like toxins) be "recycled" into their production process?

I wonder this every time I see the Made in Chinese metal products sold at Home Depot, and recall the Chinese sheetrock scandal a few years ago.

Nov. 13 2013 12:13 PM
A listener

Why are places like India choked with garbage? Why hasn't recycling evolved there? Is it due to corruption or class bias?

Nov. 13 2013 12:12 PM

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