Alberta Kartonera


In 2001, when a severe financial crisis hit Latin America, cardboard recyclers known as cartoneros took to the streets to survive. In solidarity, artists and writers purchased the cardboard and created affordable and sustainable books with unique handcrafted covers. This website is dedicated to the University of Alberta’s Bruce Peel Special Collections‘ exceptional Cartonera books collection. At its heart, this site celebrates the innovative spirit of the cartoneros and cartoneras—men and women cardboard recyclers who transformed crisis into art in Latin America. With a spotlight on the distinctive Brazilian titles housed within, our aim is to educate visitors about the rich tapestry of the Cartonera movement and the resilience of the cartoneros.


University of Alberta’s Bruce Peel Special Collections‘ exceptional Cartonera books collection was on view from October 1 to 31, 2023, at the Rutherford Library, South Foyer, University of Alberta.


Nowadays, in Brazil, one kilo of recycled cardboard sells for R$0.30 Brazilian cents (about $0.08 Canadian cents). To make a minimum salary of 1,300 BRL a month (about 350 CAD), a catador needs to recycle about 4 tonnes of cardboard.


Cartonera publishers are not profit-driven and display a fair-trade, ecological mindset. They purchase cardboard from grassroots recyclers, who may also be involved in the crafting of the books.


Cartonera books are often produced in workshops, where participants create the covers and bind them. Since the covers are individually handcrafted, no two are identical.

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Evandro Rodrigues
Oficinas cartoneras (relatório final)
[Cartonera Workshops] (Final Report); 2013

Katarina Kartonera; Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil


Includes bibliographical references.

Hand-sewn into recycled corrugated cardboard covers with mounted color illustration on front cover.