Welcome to Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Globalized Trash Trade with Adam Minter

3:30 pm–6:00 am


Who wins when foreigners dump their waste on China? Is it the foreigners who don’t have to pay the true cost of their wastefulness? Or is it the Chinese entrepreneurs who’ve spent three decades learning how to transform what the developed world doesn’t want into things that it can’t wait to buy? In his March 31 talk, University of Chicago alumnus Adam Minter made use of exclusive videos and photos, and drew upon more than a decade of reporting on the global waste and recycling industry, to challenge the conventional wisdom about developing countries and the dumping of waste, and also sketched out a more realistic and sustainable picture of our increasingly globalized trash. Minter questioned mainstream Western narratives about the nature of the labor and environmental issues related to recycling, shipping, and waste picking. A diverse audience, which included Center in Beijing Faculty Director Dali Yang and the newly arrived Social Sciences in Beijing Study Abroad Program students from UChicago’s College, enjoyed Minter’s storytelling style and asked some probing questions during a Q&A period.

Adam Minter (University of Chicago AB’93) is an Asia-based columnist for Bloomberg View, as well as a long-time correspondent for Recycling International and Scrap magazines. In addition to his regular correspondent work, his writing has been featured in the Atlantic, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Time, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. He is the author of the best-selling, critically-acclaimed “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade.”