The next time someone asks you for what business Oakland is known, tell them.
It's a bunch of crap. Refuse, that is.
The East Bay city's 15.4 percent unemployment rate is despite a boom in the waste management industry, according to the Bay Citizen. Scrap metal was the Port of Oakland's biggest export product, but paper was close behind. Waste goods from all over the state flows to Oakland's docks, where more than 1 million metric tons of scrap paper was exported, for a $324 million windfall to the Port, according to the news Web site.
That waste paper is going primarily to China, where it's recycled into... paper, to fuel a growing consumer demand for paper products that China is thus far unable to satisfy with domestic resources (for the time being anyway, as the country is importing fast-growing trees to meet future demand). But in Oakland, the paper is recycled into jobs. Waste-paper exports translated into 866 port jobs in 2010, according to the Bay Citizen, and some $161 million in local tax revenue.
For the time being, the Chinese demand for waste paper and American demand for Chinese-made consumer goods is providing a stable supply-and-demand economy, where waste paper is shipped to China and returns to the United States in paper packaging for Chinese-made goods. That packaging is then shipped back to China, where it's turned into... well, you get the idea.