Clean Tech

Upcycling and downcycling for a healthy planet

Team BL | Updated on: Jun 12, 2022
Upcycled care: A bird feeder made with recycled plastic bottle

Upcycled care: A bird feeder made with recycled plastic bottle | Photo Credit: gabrielabertolini

On upcycling and downcycling

Upcycling is a form of recycling where unused items or materials are transformed into desirable, high-value products.

Upcycling reduces the strain on valuable resources such as fuel, forests and water supplies. It helps safeguard wildlife habitats, reduces air and water pollution, and ensures less hazardous waste production. The product has a longer lifespan.

Commonly upcycled materials include wood, leather garments, leather, fabrics, glass, carboard, tin and packaging. The textile and fashion industry, and furniture and home accessories businesses are suited for upcyling.

Downcycling is used to describe a recycled product that is not as structurally strong as the original product made from virgin materials. Plastic and cardboard are good examples. Downcycled materials can only be used to make a product that’s different from the original. Downcycled plastic products can’t be recycled again.

Plastic containers, for instance, are broken into plastic flakes. The flakes are pelletised, then extruded and spun into yarn or thread for carpets or garments. Pelletization is used in making outdoor furniture, large containers (like garbage bins) and flooring.

Published on June 12, 2022
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