Scenes from a Junkyard Planet: Viva American Scrap

During the run-up to the November 12 release of my first book, Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade, every weekday I’m posting a new photo taken during my decade of reporting on the global waste, recycling, refurbishment, and repair trade. Today’s image is the classic American scrap yard, from above. Click to enlarge:


A 2011 image taken atop a metal shredder in Fort Wayne, Indiana, looking out at a small percentage of the 74 million metric tons of scrap iron and steel that Americans handed off to recyclers that year. These piles include everything from swing sets to car bodies to the steel siding peeled off the shed in somebody’s backyard. Sixty percent of the steel manufactured in the United States comes from recycled resources, and almost all of those recycled resources come from places like this. Your home recycling bin provides less than 1 percent. This is not the sort of place that most environmentalists would describe as the vanguard of sustainability, but without it – and places like it – the world be a dirtier, and far less interesting place.

Previous ‘Scenes from a Junkyard Planet’ can be found here.