MILAN – Elsewhere in the world, when someone refers to the creative transformation of trash into a new object, the term upcycling is used, first coined in 1984 by the journalist, Reiner Pilz and officially finding acceptance in 1997 in the book by Gunter Pauli of the same name. The concept of upcycling is therefore well-defined and more especially, quite distinct from the more robust term, recycling, which rather describes an industrial process for transforming waste. However, such a clear distinction has not caught on in Italy, where upcycling is mentioned interchangeably with recycling on a day-to-day basis.
This is not just some sophisticated hang-up: the incorrect use of the term creative recycling, for example, means ignoring the entire industrial process necessary for transforming a piece of garbage into newly workable material and it promotes the paradoxical and very Italian misunderstanding that once rubbish is sorted, the “problem” of waste is resolved. After all, we are also the only European country to have set ourselves objectives for sorting our garbage, instead of objectives for recycling.
Let us look at some of the advantages of upcycling
It means we have less trash in the rubbish bin, less air and water pollution and environmental awareness is raised. In fact, it teaches us to live a green lifestyle, while also providing inspiration for business ideas.
Upcycling brings ample financial benefits. Many companies are buying waste at a low price to create highly profitable products, which also enhance people’s lives, as well as the environment. This not only pertains to companies: but artists and artisans can draw enormous benefits from the artistic transformation of waste.
Creative work is always highly gratifying and upcycling can really provide so much of that. You can create absolutely anything: jewellery, designer chairs, art installations, etc. At the same time, if children are taught about it, upcycling opens up their minds and instils social responsibility.
Upcycling can help anyone become an entrepreneur. A creative idea brought effectively to fruition can be transformed into a viable activity, which can be organised with the utmost freedom and flexibility.