Wikipedia defines Upcycling as the process of transforming waste materials & products into new materials & products of better quality or environmental value.
The first recorded use of the term upcycling was by Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH in an article by Thornton Kay of Salvo in 1994;
We talked about the impending EU Demolition Waste Streams directive. “Recycling,” he said, “I call it downcycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is upcycling, where old products are given more value, not less.”
The 2002 book ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ by William McDonough and Michael Braungart really coined the phrase in the mainstream. McDonough and Braungart believed that we should do what we can to prolong a products life, something core to the purpose of upcycling.
Upcycling has been growing in popularity in recent years.The number of products on Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade goods, tagged with the word “upcycled” increased from about 7,900 in January 2010 to just over 210,000 in January 2017.
Blogs and Vlogs on Upcycling are increasing their audiences and a host of websites have sprung up to cater for this growing demand. Gumtree has even launched it’s own #UpcycleRevolution campaign to encourage buyers and sellers to consider upcycled products.
In a backlash to the modern throw-away culture people are starting to realise their own environmental responsibility. Innovative and entrepreneurial people are finding a way to make an income out of this demand and consumers increasingly want to do their bit for the planet.