Downcycling is a type of recycling that differs from upcycling in that the goods obtained have a lower value (real or perceived as such) than the starting materials.
Generally, products created with downcycling are cheaper and have a shorter life cycle.
The loss of value that occurs from the transformation of the waste is primarily due to the type of starting materials, but may also be due to the presence, in them, of some contaminants (such as paint on aluminum cans) that make the product less valuable finish.
Plastic is an excellent example of downcycling as it, by its nature, is a material that loses value every time it is recycled, gradually creating lower quality plastic materials until it becomes, after a certain number of cycles, no longer recyclable.
Paper is also a material that degrades with each recycling; white paper is generally converted into cardboard while printed paper is recycled into toilet paper.
Another example is downcycling in the textile sector which sees the collection and transformation of waste materials into new materials of lower quality through transformation processes, above all mechanical but also chemical.
Textile processing scraps have always been considered and treated as special waste and therefore their disposal must follow strict regulatory procedures.
From the recycling of textile processing waste, other products in fabric with lower quality fibers such as clothing, carpets and tea towels are made, but today it is also possible to use them in other sectors, for example in green building (as insulating panels) or in the sectors of furniture or automotive.
March 18 is the World Recycling Day celebrated to encourage the reduction of waste and waste, highlighting the importance of proper separate collection.