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Upcycling:what is it and how it works?

What does upcycling mean?

Upcycling is a word composed by haplology of “upgrade” and “recycling”. Basically, it means turning discarded objects or materials into something new and more valuable. In fact, it is an improved and creative form of recycling that gives a second life to trash or unused items, providing them with a renewed purpose and a much better quality. Consequently, the new product has more value than its original components, besides having a longer lifespan.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them

Albert Einstein

The way we produce and consume nowadays is unsustainable and leads to very negative impacts on the Earth and its living beings and ecosystems. Within green transition, upcycled products represent an artistic and original solution that faces issues as waste management, pollution and, in some cases, production processes. In fact, these goods are re-introduced into consumer cycles and often into the market, feeding the circular economy process. Moreover, the upcycling technique contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions: on one hand, the materials’ lifetime is extended, avoiding sending a huge waste volume to landfill. On the other hand, it leads to less energy and resources consumption in producing new goods or recycling old ones. Thus, upcycling plays an undoubtable ecological role.

One important aspect is the difference between upcycling and recycling. The latter expression means breaking down materials such as plastic, glass, paper and metal in order to create a new product. Upcycling means, instead, reusing these and other not recyclable materials -without destroying them- in a different, creative ad greener way.

Besides being eco-friendly, upcycling is also social-friendly. It supports local economy and businesses, since it has potentialities in fostering local communities to better manage their waste, to implement new forms of social entrepreneurship and to sell the resulting items in order to financially support themselves.

In conclusion, against the throwaway culture, upcycling encourages sustainable practices as it raises social and environmental awareness, promotes ethical and conscious consumption, reduces ecological and carbon footprint and supports local communities.