Recycle – no. Upcycle – yes!

January 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

Everyone knows what recycling is. It means dropping our trash in the recycling bin instead of the trash bin. That’s where the story ends for most of us, but the point of recycling is that we hope is that whatever goes into the recycling bin will find its way into a new product and not a landfill. Unfortunately, many products made from recycled materials have a lower value than the original “raw” material so our stuff piles up in the recycling bin because no one wants it.

This is where upcycling comes in. It starts out with the same trash, but transforms this material into something of greater value! Sound too good to be true? It shouldn’t. Mother Nature upcycles all the time. You exhale carbon dioxide (trash) and Mother Nature uses it to build a tree (high-value product).

Plastic is especially hard to recycle. The typical piece of plastic contains a mixture of substances that are hard to convert into anything new. This is where upcycling comes in. Instead, of changing “trash” plastic into “new” plastic, Dr. Vilas Pol, a research chemist at the Argonne National Laboratory, upcycles plastic into “highly valuable dry carbonaceous products”. To learn more about this (and find a link to a short YouTube video, “From Plastic Bags to Batteries”), go here (American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry news page). Afterwards, follow this link to learn more about green chemistry.

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Entry filed under: In the News.

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