Gutberlet, Jutta

Associate Professor


Phone number: (250) 472-4537
Department: Geography

Research description:

-Improving basic urban services in informal settlements
-Waste co-production in Brazil
-Policy and Outreach for re-shaping waste into resources
Expertise Profile
When we say, "One person's garbage is another person's treasure," we usually mean it metaphorically. Yet all around the world--especially in regions without waste collection services--informal recyclers make their living separating recyclable materials from waste and selling it.

In Brazil, human geographer Jutta Gutberlet improves the working lives of Informal recyclers in cities by working with them to create or improve cooperatives and social enterprises. In cooperatives, informal recyclers can take part in workshops on occupational health, participatory management or other specific topics and work together in a more organized way, which in turn helps them increase their income and quality of life.

"Recycling cooperatives provide people with an opportunity for human development and give them a more dignified life," Dr. Gutberlet says.

Dr. Gutberlet's research also helps protect the environment because waste is one of the key contributors to global warming. When we burn it, deposit it in landfills or leave waste to decompose, it releases toxic gases into the air. "If we prevent the generation of waste and increase the recovery of materials, we can also tackle climate change," she says. Furthermore, recycling helps spare natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves energy.

In Victoria, Dr. Gutberlet uses her research to strengthen her teaching techniques. She shares with her students the stories she hears in the field and the videos and photographs she takes that show the experiences of informal recyclers in Brazil and other southern states. These images and stories inspire in-class discussions and help students understand the importance of reducing the waste of resources by not recycling and including informal recyclers in waste management.

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