What it Means to Upcycle

Posted by Rubbish Taxi | March 7th 2016

What could be better than taking a pile of scrap and transforming it into a more useful and aesthetic item? A new meaning and new function, not just a quick fix - it has to look beautiful too. 

A common past time when families couldn't afford lots of new things, upcycling meant they learnt to make use of what they already had. Nothing was thrown away into the waste trash and often the new upcycled product looked better or had better uses than its original form.

Upcycling is still hugely popular in third world countries, where old wooden doors are transformed into a new family dining table. Buying raw materials is expensive and transferring old items to landfill has a negative impact on the environment.

We look at four examples of recycling and up cycling related to items that we use every day.

The Book

Take books for example; we usually donate them to a charity shop or second hand store when we no longer want them hoarding our bookshelves. If on the other hand you were to recycle a book, it would be shredded, made into pulp and then paper again.

To upcycle our book, you take another approach: you could cut out a corner of the book, before sanding down the new edges and use the book as an exciting new book end or modern era art display.

The Plastic Carrier Bag

With many countries and remote villages, particularly in hill villages of Northern India, the plastic bag is considered a major pollutant and is banned. Plastic bags are recycled in the UK by using a method to spread and melt down the plastic before making it into pellets and turning the raw materials into a new plastic toothbrush perhaps.

Upcycling the bag would involve cleansing and deep sanitisation before cutting it into yarn and then weaving it into a bag, cushion or basket.

The Tyre

Tyres are reused from country to country based on regulations of tread wear, but to recycle a tyre it can be shredded and compressed before using the materials to create a brand new running track with a tremendous rubber grip to help runners perform at their best.

To upcycle a tyre, it is sanitised before shredding it into pieces, before converting into rubber mats, which hold a similar function to a running track in providing great grip.

The Glass Wine Bottle

Recycling glass bottles into new glass bottles, involves melting the glass down before it can be recast into its new shape.

Upcycling it, cleverly turns into a drinking glass, when the top spout it cut off and smoothed down to prevent a sharp rim.

For eastern developing countries, upcycling is a way of life and can mean a steady economical income for many families with skills to weave materials into baskets or jewellery.

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