In advance of America Recycles Day this Friday, two notable events are taking place in NYC this week. On Wednesday, Junkyard Planet author Adam Minter speaks at the New School:
Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade
Wednesday, November 13th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM
The Hirshon Suite, The New School
55 West 13th Street, New York, NY
Lecture and Q&A with author Adam Minter
Moderated by Jonathan Bach, Chair, Global Studies
When you drop your Diet Coke can or yesterday’s 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 this discussion, veteran journalist and author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade (2013), Adam Minter, travels deeply into a vast, often hidden, 500 billion-dollar industry — one that employs more people than any other industry on the planet except agriculture, and that is 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: Leonard Fritz, a young boy “grubbing” in Detroit’s city dumps in the 1930s; Johnson Zeng, a former plastics engineer roaming America in search of scrap; and Homer Lai, an unassuming barber turned scrap titan in Qingyuan, China.
With unmatched access to and insight on the junk trade, Minter traces the export of America’s garbage and the massive profits that China and other rising nations earn from it. Minter explains that if what you toss into your recycling bin can be used in some way, the international scrap recycling business will manage to deliver it to the person or company who can do so most profitably. “Going green” usually means making money—and it’s often the most sustainable choice, even when the recycling methods aren’t pretty.
The lecture and presentation will be followed by a Q&A, book signing and reception.
Adam Minter grew up in a family of scrap dealers in Minneapolis. He became a professional journalist and now serves as the Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View, in addition to writing regularly for the Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and other publications. For the last decade, he has divided his time between the United States and China.
On Thursday, November 14th, please join the CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform for Tales from Our Trash: Sanitation Workers, Sustainable Cities, and the Value of Knowledge, an event about waste handling in New York City. Held in honor of Frank Justich, a NYC Sanitation worker killed on the job in Astoria in 2010, the event will feature a discussion with Professor Robin Nagle (author of Picking Up, and the anthropologist-in-residence with the NYC Department of Sanitation), as well as presentations by the NYC Commissioner of Sanitation, John Dougherty, and conceptual artist, Mierle Laderman Ulekes (artist-in-residence with the NYC Department of Sanitation), and youth activists representing future generations. The event is the first in CUER’s planned series focusing on trash as a lens for considering issues of sustainability. The focus of the evening’s conversation will be on trash as an issue of inter-generational equity, and the need to recognize sanitation workers as the front line of urban sustainability.
The event, held at 6pm at the CUNY Law School, is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.