UPCYCLING VS DOWNCYCLING WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

One of the circular economy principles is to keep materials and products in use for as much
time as possible. There are, however, different approaches to extend product longevity and
to reduce waste. Some methods are more efficient than others. In a previous post, we have
discussed how recycling is crucial, but it is not the best solution for our waste problem due
to loss involved in this process: the loss of labour, energy, and materials. But not all recycling
processes happen in the same way, so are called downcycling and others upcycling.

DOWNCYCLING vs UPCYCLING

Downcycling is when a material or a product is transformed into something of lower quality.
By contrast, upcycling is the process of transforming materials or products into ones of better
quality and environmental value. Upcycling, therefore, prolongs the life cycle of products and
materials, being a much more sustainable and efficient way of recycling than downcycling.

UPCYCLING CASE STUDY

Whenever we think about upcycling, we always recall the beautiful designs from Marie-Louise Hellgren. The Swedish designer is an international pioneer in the upcycling movement; she sees beauty where others see waste. She works with a variety of products and materials and with both large global companies and smaller local actors.

In this article, we want to share with you Marie-Louise’s Lilla Snåland stool made from upcycled wood waste from the Swedish chair factory Stolab and her Pink One Puff made from upcycled air-bag fabrics. It is worth saying that her stool is an award-winning design piece and is currently on display in Sweden’s National Museum in Stockholm.

Lilla Snåland stool & Pink One Puff by Marie-Louise Hellgren

NEW E-BOOK

 In our new e-book “Designing a Circular Future” we have featured Marie-Louise Hellgren’s work and interview alongside with other 14 talented designers. Click here and learn more about this e-book and let us spread the word about circular design.

Designing a Circular Future E-book

WHAT WILL YOU FIND IN OUR E-BOOK?

✔Key concepts within the linear economy
✔Key concepts & principles within the circular economy
✔An essential glossary for the circular economy
✔Benefits of the circular economy
✔Circular design overview
✔6 Circular design strategies
✔News and Innovations from European Design Fairs & Events
✔15 Exclusive interviews with emerging & renowned designers
✔More than 20 case studies from brands & designers
✔More than 150 pages
✔More than 7000 words

Check out our e-book and help us to spread the word about the circular economy and circular design.

*source: ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

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