Micro-credit and Recycling Co-ops: Grassroots Initiatives to Alleviate Poverty

Informal Recyclers - Documentary

Excert from the University of Victoria Press Release - May 24, 2005.

In the six-year project, UVic social geographer Dr. Jutta Gutberlet will work with the Centro Universitário Fundação Santo André and other Brazilian partners to organize and train informal recycling collectors and cooperatives in four municipalities, including São Paulo, one of the world’s largest cities.

Informal recyclers are individuals or unorganized groups who make a living out of separating recyclables out of waste. In North America, the activity is known as “binning,” or “dumpster diving.” There are an estimated 200,000 informal recyclers in Brazil.

Informal recycling is a very widespread activity in poor countries,” says Gutberlet, who grew up in São Paulo and has more than 15 years of research experience on socio-economic and development issues in Latin America.

The four municipalities involved in the project are home to about 12 million people and have varying degrees of recycling activity and support from local governments. Up to 90 per cent of waste still ends up in landfills.

The project team will build on established contacts with local groups, governments and NGOs to help organize and strengthen the recycling sector. Training programs aimed at government officials and the wider community will deal with topics such as responsible consumption, efficient recycling, waste management, and participatory decision-making.

By empowering recyclers we hope to increase incomes, generate more jobs, and improve the environment and quality of life for everyone,” says Gutberlet.

The project team plans to pass lessons learned onto other municipalities in Brazil, South America —and even Canada. “There are similar problems of social exclusion and poverty in Canada, especially in the big cities like Vancouver,” says Gutberlet. “Governments everywhere should be looking for creative solutions to deal with these issues.”


Creator - Author(s) Name and Title(s): 
Dr. Jutta Gutberlet
Publication Information: 
Documentary made by Dr. Gutberlet.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Publisher Information: 
University of Victoria


São Paulo