Recycle vs Upcycle
We have heard about paper, plastic, glass recycling. It is a way of conserving products and reducing waste, as it encourages people to send their used product to buy back centers and collection facilities, where materials are sorted out and made to undergo a process to be turned into new products. Upcycle is a related concept which is what confuses many as they do not know much about it and use the terms interchangeably. This article attempts to make the situation clear for such people by highlighting the features of both recycle and upcycle.
If you buy a plastic box full of cookies and throw it after consuming the cookies, you are guilty of promoting consumerism as you are throwing products in garbage to be used as a landfill. Instead, if you keep the plastic box and use it to store biscuits or other leftovers, you are helping to reduce wastage and conservation of materials. Recycle is a special process of conservation and reducing wastage where products undergo a chemical process to be converted into new products. For example, paper is recycled to make new paper, different glass products crushed to make new glass, and plastic boxes into molten plastic that is used to make new plastic products.
Recycling paper saves many trees and thus helps in improving our environment. It also helps in saving of electricity and oil, which is indeed heartening and must be encouraged to help save our environment and reduce wastage.
Upcycling is similar to recycling with the only difference being the new product being equal or better value. Other two features of upcycle are requirements of no downgrade of the original product and no pollution during upcycle. Thus, recycled paper, being lower in quality of the original paper that goes into making this new paper is lower and hence is not upcycle. If window casings, shingles, bricks etc of a building being bulldozed are used in the construction of a new house, it is a case of upcycle. Similarly, when old tires of cars are used to make something of higher value, it is a case of upcycle.
What is the difference between Recycle and Upcycle?
• Both recycling and upcycling save money and resources though recycling is costlier and new products made are inferior in quality than original products. On the other hand, upcycling results in goods of equal or higher value.
• Recycling breaks old products and uses a chemical process to convert them into new products using other resources. On the other hand, no or very little alteration is made to the composition of the old product while some new resources are used to create something of a higher value.
• Recycling changes the form of the product while upcycle needs little or no alteration to the form of the item.