Upcycling vs. Recycling: What's Better?
BY Tom Szaky
I recently got a note from my friend Eric Hudson at Recycline. By way of background, Recycline is an amazing company that takes #5 plastic and recycles it into new products like toothbrushes. It even has a #5 take-back program similar to our yogurt brigade, which I blogged about in this post. Recycline is a landmark company in the green revolution. I even brush my teeth with the company's amazing toothbrushes.
So how about some controversy? That's what blogs are for anyway (Eric - that's a wink your way). There has been some debate out there questioning whether it is better for the environment to make something from recycled plastic vs. virgin plastic. Here are the facts: According to a published 2002 report by the EPA, using recycled materials instead of virgin materials to make new products yields a 40 percent to 60 percent savings in energy use.
So what do you think? What's better for the environment? Upcycling a yogurt cup into say a planter pot (a la TerraCycle) or melting it down and creating a toothbrush (a la Recycline)? (By the way, I support both solutions!)
Last updated: Sep 16, 2008
TOM SZAKY is the founder of TerraCycle, a New Jersey based company that makes fertilizer using worms and produces retail products from recycled goods. The firm was started while he was a student at Princeton University. Tom was named "The No. 1 CEO Under Thirty" by Inc. magazine in its July 2006 issue.