What does “upcycling” mean? meaning and use


“Upcycling” is reported again and again and you don’t know what that means? We’ll tell you what’s behind the expression and how you use it.

Here you can find out what is behind the term “upcycling”. (Source: Jirsak /

That means upcycling: making new, high-quality products from old material

The term “upcycling” is a portmanteau word taken from English. The term is made up of “up” and “recycling”. Waste products or apparently useless materials are converted into new products.

Upcycling vs Downcycling

“Upcycling” is a material upgrading in contrast to “downcycling”. The antonym, i.e. the opposite, describes a process of recycling in which the final product is of lesser value than the original material. On the other hand, “upcycling” gives you a creative reuse that creates a high-quality product.


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Origin of upcycling

The term “upcycling” first appears in English in a 1994 article in the European magazine SalvoNEWS. In an interview with engineer Reiner Pilz, he uses the term when talking about recycling.

Gunter Pauli’s book, published in 1998, also coined the term, since the work initially titled “Upsizing” was renamed “Upcycling” a year later. The term “upcycling” for the concept it describes was adopted and spread further. In the conversation about the climate crisis, the idea of ​​”upcycling” has become a hype, just like refurbishing and the like.

This is how you use upcycling

You can use the term “upcycling” yourself to describe hair ties made from nylon tights, lanterns made from Tetrapaks or flower vases made from old screw-top jars. In general, “upcycling” aims to conserve resources by fully exploiting those that already exist. Anything that falls under this category you can call “upcycling”.

Do you still have old electrical appliances in the house that you no longer use? Then we will present you with a few ideas for upcycling projects in the following articles.

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