The Distinction Between Recycling And Upcycling

By Anthony K

We’ve all heard about recycling and how it helps us reduce how much trash ends up in landfills. For example, processing aluminum cans can give us “new” aluminum foil for cooking rather than rusting away in the dirt. However, with so much focus on recycling, we’ve overlooked an even better way to reduce our waste. And the best part? This other method is less energy-intensive than recycling. We’re talking about upcycling!

Unfortunately, most of us use this word as a synonym for recycling. Let’s take a closer look at what upcycling is and how it differs from recycling.

What exactly is upcycling?

Upcycling, often also known as creative reuse, is a method of repurposing goods that have outlived their usefulness by changing them into new materials or products. Simply put, this gives old materials new life through the creation of new products. Here are just a few examples of upcycling:


What is recycling?

This became the industry standard for decades. This is the process of gathering and processing things that would otherwise be discarded and later converting them into new creations. However, this process isn’t as foolproof as we are led to believe. Not everything can be recycled, and materials like plastic can’t be recycled forever.

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Which is better?

Without a doubt, it’s better to try your hand at upcycling before you recycle old materials. In some places, there may be a limit to what you can recycle. For example, some places don’t take certain types of plastic. But there is no limit with upcycling! And don’t get discouraged. If you mess up your upcycling project, just clean it and recycle it afterward.