Advantages and Disadvantages of Upcycling

Pros & Cons of Upcycling

Before getting into the intrinsic benefits and drawbacks of upcycling, it is important to firstly gain a clear understanding as to what exactly is the concept & idea of ‘upcycling’. A term first coined by Reiner Pilz (1994) where he argues that recycling is more like ‘downcycling’ that you degrade the value of something to lesser. Instead he promotes the idea of upcycling ‘where old products are given more value, not less’.

So in basic words it is making use of waste or non-useful products and making something purposeful or improving a current product’s energy efficiency, thereby lessening its environmental impact. So simple examples of this are when old non used items such as an old guitar case becomes a book shelf or file cabinets that are built from suitcases. Although upcycling is a specific form of recycling, it is different in the fact you don’t break the useless product down into its raw form, you simply give it a new improved use — with effective alterations & add-ons.

Advantages of Upcycling

  • Financial Advantages of Upcycling: an obvious merit with upcycling is that it will save you money, depending on how much & what you are after (as well as what you have to work with), whereby you can possibly save on the original planned purchase of a new product. Basically, the process of upcycling allows to save you money.
  • Economic Advantages of Upcycling: from a governmental perspective they can save money from the process of recycling and environmental landfill costs etc. and use that money to invest in the education system, manufacturing sectors thereby promoting long term GDP (output) growth.
  • Environmental Advantages of Upcycling: this is the major benefit that comes with upcycling – through reducing landfill waste sites, lessening the demand for natural resources as well as the factor there will be less chemicals being emitted & released into the earth’s atmosphere (due to now manufacturing ‘less’ new goods).
  • Educational, Spiritual & Creative Advantages of Upcycling: on a more individual level, through the process of upcycling products there is an obvious educational (DIY practical) & creative process as well as a spiritual one — knowing that you are benefiting the environment and ‘saving the world’.

Disadvantages of Upcycling

  • Financial Disadvantages of Upcycling: the financial drawbacks ends up in the business owner’s court (mainly retailers), as they aren’t going to be making any money with regards to selling new products. The market loses profit, given that demand for new products is now less. There aren’t however any real negatives on an individual basis (as a consumer).
  • Economic Disadvantages of Upcycling: the job market may significantly be impacted, given that there won’t be as much demand in the retail and manufacturing sector, as people aren’t now buying as many ‘new goods’.
  • Environmental Disadvantages of Upcycling: the only real way upcycling could be harmful for the environment is that it could now contain waste chemicals, but presumably before someone committed to the upcycle of materials/product, they would have known this beforehand.

Summary of the Advantages & Disadvantages of Upcycling

A simplistic overview of the benefits and drawbacks of upcycling, but hopefully you have gained a more balanced overview of what the process of upcycling is. In all, it is clearly a great thing to promote on the whole, taking it a step further than even recycling does to help in protecting the world’s limited resources and environment — as you don’t have to break something down to then forge something new (eliminating any bad toxins from being released in those two stages).

Finally, if you have any questions, further suggestions or concerns about the advantages and disadvantages of upcycling then please leave them below. Also, if you have found this article useful please do be sure to give it a like or share.