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.

Idaho Couple Takes Glass Recycling Into Their Own Hands

May 13, 2013

In Coeur d’Alene, residents can recycle paper, plastic, and aluminum. A new non-profit is chipping away at what they see as a problem: the city doesn’t recycle glass. Spokane Public Radio’s Paige Browning reports.

With nearly 700 food carts licensed last year, Portland, Ore., is arguable a leader in the mobile food revolution. Lucky residents can choose between Iraqi-Jewish sabich, yeasted Belgian liege waffles, or Indonesian rendang, all served out of a friendly window on the sidewalk. But all of these mobile meals come with a downside — namely, trash.

Photo by Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A fledgling business in Sandpoint, Idaho is giving locals a place to finally take their glass bottles – besides the landfill, that is. North Idaho is one of the few corners of the Northwest that doesn’t have glass recycling. As Jessica Robinson reports, the business is barely up and running, and already has more glass bottles than it can handle.

Starting next year, some of the trash you toss out may end up in gas tanks instead of buried at a large regional landfill in eastern Oregon. 

This project is a joint venture between landfill operator Waste Management Inc. and a small engineering company based in Bend called InEnTec. The partners announced they'll build their first waste-to-energy plant at the big landfill near Arlington, Oregon. The planned facility will vaporize trash in a very high temperature melter. Spokeswoman Jackie Lang says the resulting superheated gases can then be recombined to make synthetic fuel.