Although the phrases “recycling” and “upcycling” are occasionally used synonymously, the two procedures are truly independent and vastly dissimilar from one another.
In this post, we’ll examine each, point out how they differ, and explain why each is significant from the standpoint of the environment.
Let’s look at recycling first.
What is recycling
Recycling is a commercial process that turns waste into fresh resources that are then utilized to create either the same product (like a beverage can) or a different product (such as something made from plastic).
Recycling materials are gathered and transported to a recycling facility from residences, businesses, industrial premises, or council-run recycling centers.
Here, recyclables are broken down and used to make new materials after being separated into different categories.
Aluminium and glass are two examples of recyclables that can be recycled but cannot be recycled completely since the recycling process weakens them (i.e. plastic and paper).
Recycled materials are combined with new materials to generate new goods when it comes to plastic and paper.
What is Upcycling?
Upcycling, sometimes known as “creative recycling,” is wholly different from recycling.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, upcycling is:
“The process of creating new furniture, artifacts, etc. out of discarded materials or used items”
Hence, upcycling has nothing to do with the commercial recycling process.
Upcycling, on the other hand, entails taking something that would otherwise be trash and upgrading it in some way to make it useful once more.
Old, out-of-style furniture is a typical upcycled item. By sanding, painting, and adding new handles, you may quickly and effectively change a cabinet or chest of drawers.
Similar to how a new lampshade—possibly from another light—can improve a lamp.
Upcycling, however, typically involves repurposing items to serve whole other purposes rather than simply improving upon them.
For instance, a plastic bottle can be made into a variety of items, including a face shield, a plant pot, a watering can, fairy lights, and a bird feeder, to name a few.
Recycling and upcycling’s distinctions
So, what makes recycling and upcycling so different from one another besides the obvious fundamental differences that were previously mentioned?
Although upcycling uses garbage in its existing form to produce something new, recycling requires destroying waste in order to make something new.
When an object is upcycled, its original shape is preserved and it is easily recognizable, which gives it a story since you can see both what it once was and what it has evolved into.
This is one way in which the upcycled item pays homage to the original item.
While recycling has its uses, upcycling is more artistic and can use a range of methods and materials to produce the end result.
In conclusion, reusing and upcycling are excellent environmental choices because they lessen the need for recycling.
When a substance is no longer usable, recycling it is more environmentally friendly than throwing it in the trash.