This week, Adam Minter joins The Daily Circuit to talk about his new book, “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trade.” Minter’s family owned a scrap yard during his childhood, which has led to a lifelong obsession with junk – but really, we thought, what’s so great about scrap metal anyway? It was an easy question to answer. St. Paul has a slew of industrial processing facilities along the Mississippi, and I set up a meeting with Shane Alsdurf, a social studies teacher turned yard buyer for AMG Alliance, a scrap metal recycling facility.
The location accepts all kinds of metal – from large, demolished buildings to private individuals’ pickup trucks and bags of aluminum cans. As we walked around the grounds, Alsdurf pointed out towering mountains of steel and aluminum that had been crunched, smashed and torched by various large machines roaming the facility. Trucks, shelving and even silos were reduced to rusty scraps, moved around to different piles and semis by giant magnets.
Once they’ve been broken down, the processed metals end up in local mills or on barges to be sent down the Mississippi and shipped around the world. I’ve got to admit, it was thrilling to watch.