upcycling
n. A process that takes used or recycled materials and creates a new product with a higher quality or value than the original materials.
upcycle v.

Example Citations:
Mr. Kalin is big on 'upcycling,' a process whose name was coined by William McDonough, an architect, and Michael Braungart, a chemist, in their 2002 book, 'Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.' They used the term to describe the process of taking something that's essentially waste and moving it up the consumer-goods chain. 'I love upcycling,' Mr. Kalin said. 'I love this idea of bringing something from lower down and elevating it.'
—Penelope Green, "Romancing The Flat Pack: Ikea, Repurposed," The New York Times, September 6, 2007

We also consider "upcycling", which involves taking used materials and increasing their value. For example, by taking an old shirt that someone won't wear just because they've dropped a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar on it, printing over the top of it and perhaps cutting into it to make it fit with current trends. It's very quick and easy. I can upcycle a worn-out ordinary shirt into a designer handprinted B.Earley one.
—Lucy Middleton, "Turning the fashion industry green," New Scientist, October 6, 2007

Earliest Citation:
Recycling in many cases means "downcycling" — in particular cases, however, it can also mean "upcycling".
—James Mason, "Design for Manufacturability," American Society of Mechanical Engineers, March 1, 1994

Related Words:

Category: