Recycling vs. Upcycling

Recycling takes consumer materials — mostly plastic, paper, metal and glass — and breaks them down so their base materials can be remade into a new consumer product, often of lesser quality.

When you upcycle an item, you aren’t breaking down the materials. You may be refashioning it — like cutting a t-shirt into strips of yarn — but it’s still made of the same materials as when you started. Also, the upcycled item is typically the same or better quality than the original.

At Relan, we take old billboards from and turn them into these durable, useful products that can be used to spur the discussion about sustainability, environmentally conscious practices and social responsibility.

Why not upcycle to create marketing products, swag bags, or other promotional items instead of bringing in new materials from overseas that increase the amount of waste headed to our landfills?