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Demystifying the pillars of closed loop

Upcycling Recycling Closed loop

If you often read sustainability related posts or news, chances are that you have heard of the words upcycling, downcycling, recycling. Do these terms sound confusing? Let us take a stab in explaining what exactly are these and how do they differ.

When you use an existing item and make something of higher value from it than the original item, it is called upcycling. For example, creating a new quilt using existing fabric scraps or converting pre-loved old clothes lying in the closets into something more trendy. Upcycling usually needs creativity, imagination, labor and ofcourse passion to reuse existing items. Just the nature of upcycling i.e. sifting through old stuff to build new creations demands more attention and handmade work, it is hard to automate it.

When you reuse an existing item to make something of lower value than the original item, it is called downcycling. For example, using old clothes as dusters, rags.

When you break a material down to its basic composition, then it is called recycling. There are some materials that can get recycled over and again without losing their quality. Glass and Aluminum are good examples of that. Materials like paper and plastic get recycled but usually the resulting product is of slightly lower quality than the original. For example, paper can be recycled seven times, but each time the fiber length gets shortened and eventually reaches a point where it cannot be made into paper again. We need technology, infrastructure, logistics, and manpower to make Recycling work and it can happen at a larger scale.

All these processes of upcycling, downcycling, recycling, though different in their own way, are pillars of closed loop system where we reuse existing materials to create something new instead of using virgin raw materials.

Check out the products at GoodsAgain where you can find jewelry, bags, and other items upcycled from existing stuff otherwise considered waste. We believe that there is so much stuff thrown away as waste which is nothing but resources and can be used to create new materials if there is a drive and commitment to do so. As they say 'Waste is not waste until you waste it'.

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