Adam Minter, author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade, on the second life of books, at home and abroad.
"There aren’t any figures on just how much recycled paper goes into the books that you buy, but there’s little question that it’s significant. In large part, that significance is due to China, the world largest paper manufacturer. Curiously, though, China lacks sufficient quantities of good quality wood pulp to make the giant volumes of high-quality paper demanded by its customers both at home (China is one of the world’s fastest growing book buyers and newspaper readers) and abroad. In place of wood pulp, China uses vast quantities of recycled paper, with the highest quality recycled paper imported from the United States. This is no small trade: China is the world’s largest paper maker, and in 2011 roughly 62% of the incredible 90.44 million metric tons of paper pulp it consumed came from recycled resources. That rate of recycled paper consumption is up an incredible 249% since 2002.