What’s the Difference Between Upcycling and Recycling?

Recycling and upcycling are used interchangeably. However, there is much difference between the two. While upcycling is part of recycling, yet are not the same. This article discusses the difference between upcycling and recycling, also explains why upcycling is better than recycling.


What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is the process of converting old products into new valuable commodities without downcycling (breaking) them. In short, it involves reusing old materials to create a new product, giving it a new leash of life.

Process of upcycling


What Does Upcycled Mean?

Products enhanced into a more valuable quality are known as upcycled processes. It is the opposite of recycling, wherein the materials are broken down to create a less useful product than the original. For instance, discarded tyres and rubbers are used for developing eco-friendly vegan footwear. Similarly, waste paper is used for making biodegradable pencils.


What kind of Products Can be Upcycled? 

Materials like rubber, waste, tyres, old papers and fabrics can be upcycled into newer products which are enhanced form of the original ones.


What Should You Know About “Upcycled Footwear”?

More and more people are opting for sustainable footwear which is earth-friendly and made using faux leather. Upcycled footwear uses materials like waste tyres and rubbers to produce trendy and classy footwear. Unlike leather footwear, upcycled footwear is vegan and does not involve animal parts or products. Paaduks is a well-known vegan footwear brand, they uses upcycling to transform waste rubber and tyres into elegant shoes. Get the best pair of upcycled footwear online in India from Paaduks.


A few distinct features of upcycled footwear are:

Features Of Upcycled Footwear


  • Upcycled shoes are entirely vegan and eco-friendly shoes.
  • It includes using creativity to turn the shoes more classy.
  • These shoes are designed by expert artisans and are handmade.
  • It reduces discarded waste by transforming it into comfortable and trendy shoes.


Benefits of using Upcycled Shoes:

  • Upcycled footwear leads to less recollection of waste. It adds value to materials by using discarded items and transforming them into new products
  • Many products utilize natural resources—however, the process of upcycling limits the use of natural resources by using discarded products
  • It builds new job opportunities for people to showcase their creativity. Herein, it includes initiatives on how to use creativity to make enhanced materials using discarded wastes that would otherwise get dumped in landfills.


Is Upcycling Good for the Environment?


Upcycling is good for the environment and is eco-friendly. It is a sustainable option wherein old products and things are enhanced creatively. In addition, upcycling utilizes less energy and minimizes wastage or discarded items deposited in landfills, reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.


Is Upcycling the Same as Reusing?

Upcycling is different from reusing. The latter involves using an old product instead of throwing it. For example, if you have an old plastic container, you can reuse it for keeping knives and scissors. On the other hand, waste tyres and plastics are used and developed into faux leather footwear, a form of upcycled by-product.


What is Recycling?

Recycling includes managing waste materials and turning those into newer products. For example, waste products like plastics, aluminum, paper towels and newspapers are processed and manufactured into new materials. For example, waste material like glass in asphalt is used for paving roads, whereas plastic bags are recycled for carpeting.


What kind of Products Can be Recycled?

Products like paper, glass bottles, plastics, and metal containers such as steel cans, tin, and aluminum can be recycled. It is to ensure the filling of the landfills.


How is Upcycling Different from Recycling?

Upcycling and recycling both use waste to transform into newer products. Recycling includes downcycling or destroying waste to use it for something else. On the other hand, upcycling includes using waste to convert it into a new product. Upcycling does not apply to breaking down the product or melting it. Instead, the trash is enhanced and turned into a higher quality product than the original one.


Differences between Recycling and Upcycling:




It includes breaking down waste to build something new.

It is the process of retaining the same material and object in a new form.

It is performed to recover energy which can produce more toxic waste.

It is more creative and includes a range of techniques to develop an innovative finished product.

It is more practical and does not include much creativity.

Its production of toxic waste is relatively lower.

It utilizes more amount of energy in the process.

It utilizes a relatively lesser amount of energy.

The process comprises transportation, cleaning, separating, melting, purifying, granulation, and extrusion.

The process includes cleaning, assembling, and disassembling the parts.

The recycled products are lower in quality compared to their original form.

The upcycled products are either similar to or of higher quality than the original product.

It is applied to materials like metals, plastics, and paper, which can be broken into simpler forms.

Its application is limited as the waste materials are considered “as is” instead of the materials which they are made from.

The process can be automated.

The process is difficult to automate as by-products are often unique in nature and form.


Which is Better - Recycling or Upcycling?

Recycling and upcycling are both interrelated but not the same. Upcycling is also a form of recycling that includes turning discarded materials into new products. On the other hand, recycling involves destroying waste or decycling waste to transform it into a new form.

Thus, "Upcycling is better than Recycling, reducing the need to recycle and reduce waste."



Upcycled footwear is completely eco-friendly that does not involve any materials acquired from animals. Explore the upcycled footwear collections from Paaduks, also they are one of the first brands to launch 20mm heels made using upcycled tyre soles. Visit the website to check out a fantastic range of eco friendly vegan shoes, including flats, low heels, sandals, Kolhapuri, Suede footwear(vegan suede) and knitted footwear etc.



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