Christmas Lights Make Slippers In Global 'Junkyard' Economy

When you think of recycling, you probably think of cans, plastic bottles and newspapers. Well, think a little bigger.

There are businesses devoted to recycling metal, paper, plastic, oil, textiles, cell phones, computers, motors, batteries, Christmas lights, cars and more. The hidden world of globalized recycling and reclamation, and its impact on the environment and the global economy, is the subject of the new book Junkyard Planet by journalist Adam Minter.

Minter tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that as demand for raw materials grew in Asia, the amount of stuff being thrown away in developed countries, like the U.S. and Japan, also grew.

"And as that stuff grew," he says, "the industry that was devoted to collecting it, recycling it and, to a large extent, exporting it grew with it. So the employment opportunities and the wealth generated in the developed world and in the developing world has been extraordinary."

Listen to full story on NPR