Recycling and up-cycling: What's the difference?

February 23, 2018

Because it is very different to create new objects from waste than giving new value to this waste, here we explain the meaning behind each of these concepts.

A piece of wood, a piece of cloth, a plastic bottle. What to do with them once we stop using them? One option is to throw them in the dumpster (we hope that in different containers depending on the classification of the waste), or also give them a new use, creating objects such as a chair, a flowerpot or a dress .... and who knows how far your imagination can go.

Recycling is the process of transforming waste such as paper or plastic into a new material, such as a PVC pipe or a notebook. When recycling, we are also reusing elements, but if we add creativity to that recycling and create a new, more innovative object that adds value to what was the object at first, that exercise corresponds to up-cycling.

Up-cycling differs from recycling, since in the first one, when reusing the material, its quality is not diminished or decomposed for a next use. Recycling could be a first step in the reuse of materials, however, in their cycle of reuse they will become junk again in a very short time than when practicing up-cycling, which represents a more cyclical process, since it gives more value to the materials, extends its degradation.

In up-cycling, creativity and imagination are key. In fact, the term also corresponds to what we could call "creative recycling", since when practicing it we are taking advantage of materials to create new products which acquire more value than the original object had. By reimagining the function of a low value material, we managed to create high value objects or materials that at first would have ended up in the garbage.

In upcycling, the recycling of materials means "remodeling" an object. For example we can use wood pallets to create all kinds of furniture. The material is the same, it only changes its function thanks to creativity. In this way old and neglected materials become useful and of greater aesthetic value.

Up-cycling motivates sustainability and helps to give more value to materials. It boosts our creativity and imagination, since it invites us to reinvent new objects. Thanks to up-cycling we do not need raw materials to create new objects.

In Karün, upcycling is part of our daily work and therefore we are always looking for new materials to use on the production of our sunglasses. Wood from native trees from demolitions, fishing nets obtained off the Chilean coasts or used jeans have been part of the DNA of our latest collections and we want to continue demonstrating that with creativity there are no limits to create new objects from waste and to give more value to what that at first could end up in the trash.

We invite you to become a part of this change and start looking at the world from a different point of view! 


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