Jean Yamamura Is All About Trash

Why Our Opinions Editor Is So Fascinated with Waste Management

Credit: Courtesy

Indy reporter (and Opinions section editor) Jean Yamamura — who wrote this week’s cover story about a new material recovery facility (MRF) at the Tajiguas landfill — got hooked on waste management when a copy of a journal by that very name landed on her desk many years ago. “I was amazed there was a whole scientific inquiry devoted to trash,” she said. When the MRF opened about as many years later, the story was kismet, or catnip, as the case may be.

What’s so cool about the MRF?  This new facility is huge and full of complex machinery that just dwarfs you. It does a good number of positive things, including capturing and using methane, which is an intense greenhouse gas. With the climate acting so unpredictably this summer, it’s a good time to reduce it consistently.

Why is this an important story?  The road to getting recyclables sorted, sold, and made into something else is so tortured and controversial. The people I spoke with got really passionate about diverting the trash, what happens to it, and where it all comes from. I learned a lot about why recycling needs to be clean and dry to be resold, and why you can’t recycle a pizza box!

What’s up with the photo of your boots?  This was an alternative ending to my story: I love to shop as much as the next person, but being at Tajiguas really makes you consider the “what’s left behind” aspect of a new pair of shoes.


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