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Recycling, Upcycling, Downcycling: What’s The Difference?

Recycling our waste has been of high importance when it comes to taking care of our environment. However, not all recycling processes are the same. Upcycling and downcycling are recycling terms that have been gaining more popularity recently. If you’re interested in finding new ways to reuse your items instead of sending them to a landfill site, keep reading to find out more.

Plastic recycling


Recycling is the term we are all familiar with, where materials that would usually be thrown into landfill are remanufactured into new products. This applies to homes and businesses in the UK, and so many materials are recyclable:

● Paper & Cardboard

● Glass

● Metal

● Plastic

● Textiles

By recycling items, the materials can be reused again and again instead of taking up space in a landfill site, which causes harm to the environment. Upcycling and downcycling are both examples of recycling that rework a product in a different way.


Upcycling aims to increase the value of a recycled product, and has become extremely popular with textiles and clothing, but can be applied to many other materials, giving a product a ‘second life’ and a higher quality. For example, textile scraps can be upcycled to create new clothing, bags, shoes…etc. It could be as simple as saving jars, or glass bottles and using them as planters or lamps. The possibilities are endless, and upcycling is a brilliant way of repurposing items.


Downcycling on the other hand, diminishes the value of a product while still repurposing it. A common example of downcycling is often from plastic bottles, being downcycled into fibres that can be used for clothing or carpeting. Or you can downcycle your old books into recycled paper. So, although the value of the new product may be less than what it was, downcycling still gives products a second life! The downcycling process of a product can continue until the material finally loses its quality.

Why Are These Processes Important?

These recycling processes are important because they help us to look after the environment. Upcycling and downcycling not only prolong the life of different materials, they also conserve resources such as water and energy that would be required to keep manufacturing new products.

Newbery Recycling

We understand the importance of recycling your items safely, which is why we offer a range of waste disposal services, including skip hire and hazardous waste. Based in Barnstaple, North Devon, we also offer a car recycling service across Taunton & Bridgewater to assist you with scrapping your car.

For further enquiries about what we do or how we can help you, feel free to contact us today and speak to one of our wonderful team members.

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