What is Upcycling vs Recycling?
The terms ‘recycling’ and ‘upcycling’ are sometimes used interchangeably. However, the two are actually unrelated, independent processes.
What is Upcycling?
As mentioned, upcycling is a completely different process from recycling. In the Cambridge English Dictionary, upcycling is defined as:
“The activity of making new furniture, objects, etc. out of old or used things or waste material”
Upcycling involves taking an item that could be considered waste and improving it in some way to make it useful or of value again.
What Materials Can Be Upcycled?
Materials such as glass, metal, fabric, wood, cardboard, tin, and plastic can be upcycled. The only limit is your imagination!
For example, an old, outdated laptop can be transformed and upcycled by replacing the hard drive, keyboard, or screen. Similarly, an aged television can be given a sleek, modern look by also using a variety of materials— including pieces from other televisions.
However, upcycling isn’t just about transforming objects into better versions of themselves, it also includes objects that get repurposed to offer a completely different function. A good example of this is an old desktop computer. It can be transformed into a number of different items, such as: picture frames, plant holders, mail organizers, jewelry, and whatever else anyone could think of!
There are no limits when it comes to upcycling, just crafting a vision!
What is Recycling?
Recycling is a process where objects that would otherwise be thrown away as trash, are transformed into new materials and then used to make either the same product again (such as a can for drinks) or another product.
Recyclables are collected from homes, commercial properties, industrial properties, or council-run recycling centers — and taken to a recycling plant where the recyclables are sorted, and then broken down and used to create new materials.
Some recyclables like aluminum and glass are 100% recyclable, while recyclables like paper and plastic are not. Both paper and plastic can be recycled, but not 100% because they become weaker through the recycling process. In this case, other recycled materials are mixed with the fresh paper and plastic materials to create new products.
The Difference Between Recycling and Upcycling
Upcycling: Involves taking waste and creating something new from it in its current state
Recycling: Involves the destruction of waste in order to create something new
While recycling is a practical reduce and reuse process, upcycling is very creative and can involve a wide array of materials and skill to create a finished product. The two processes are fundamentally different, but are both great options when it comes to being environmentally friendly.
Certified and Sustainable Practices
When giving your EOL IT equipment and devices to UPCYCLE USA, our primary objective is to reuse and restore old equipment, which is the most environmentally sound method. Our processes allow equipment the best opportunity to be properly upcycled, recycled, but most importantly… reused.
When reuse is not an option, UPCYCLE USA demonstrates our commitment to proper handling and responsible equipment recycling.
For more information on our services and how we can assist your organization in properly disposing of your electronic equipment, please look at our services page.