In our sixth episode of Waste360’s NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Adam Minter, author of "Junkyard Planet" and a journalist at Bloomberg. We spoke with him about waste trends and challenges in Asia, what’s on the horizon for e-waste, the language of recycling and more.
Check out our discussion into the global world of waste and recycling:
Waste360: What do you think is the future of e-waste?
Adam Minter: I’m both worried and not worried. We often hear e-waste is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, but that’s not true. And I do have some faith that design for recycling and design for reuse principles are starting to infiltrate into product designer and manufacturer consciousness. Ten years from now, I think we’ll see products being much more recyclable and much more reusable than they are now. I’d be astonished if that’s not the case in part because the manufacturers are seeing economic incentives.
Waste360: Packaging is a huge challenge today in our waste stream. What are you seeing in Asia?
Adam Minter: It’s reached crisis proportions. There is a great amount of recycling infrastructure in China, but something the government is starting to worry about is the packaging coming out of the massive e-commerce food delivery industry. It’s largely not designed for recycling—and, even if it were, it would be smeared with sauce and other contamination. The country is at a loss for how to handle this, and it’s going to be a bigger and growing problem.
Waste360: Could you talk about your new book that’s on the horizon, "Secondhand"?
Adam Minter: I wanted to understand what happens within the thrift infrastructure—where do things go? Is there a better way to do it? The book opens at a Goodwill donation door, and I take you on a journey through the thrift system and around the world. There’s a real limit to how much of your stuff can be reused. What can we do about this?