UPCYCLING, WHAT IS IT?
Upcycling refers to the reuse of materials and products destined for the trash, to give them a second life. Unlike recycling, upcycling adds value to materials to make new products for a different use, while keeping the original technical properties. For example, La Virgule transforms inflatable kayaks into backpacks. The canvas of kayaks being technical, resistant and water repellent, it is a perfect raw material to make backpacks.
The very idea of upcycling, upcycling in the French version (not very sexy), is to make our mode of consumption circular. Where compost reduces your trash and feeds your plants and tomatoes, ucycling extends the life of a material that would end up in an open landfill.
The definition of upcycling is not yet present in the dictionary (nor the word upcycling), we are working on it!
WHAT CAN WE UPCYCLE?
Finished products that would end up in the trash because they have become unusable or obsolete, production offcuts, non-compliant products or scrap. Anything that most companies characterize as waste. On a small scale, recovering your old t-shirts to make masks or your sheets to make bulk bags is already upcycling.
THE COST OF UPCYCLING
The raw material is mostly free. Companies pay to dispose of their waste so they are happy to make it available to us.
But upcycling has a significant disassembly and cleanup cost. Imagine a kayak returning from a week on the Loire, and landing in a workshop. It's still damp, it doesn't smell like roses, and it's probably filled with sand, pebbles, or grass. It must therefore be cleaned and above all disassembled. This part is very time-consuming because the kayak has been designed to be resistant, it cannot be cut so easily.
WHY DO “CLASSIC” COMPANIES THROW AWAY INSTEAD OF UPCYCLING?
Some companies are starting to do this by recovering production offcuts to make smaller products, for example. But most say they are too big to develop an in-house upcycling project because the product manufacturing process is completely different and traditional factories are not suitable for it. La Virgule and all the other companies are therefore suitable solutions for creating win-win partnerships.