Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



A house in Hokkaido, Japan, constructed out of upcycled materials, including car parts

Etymology 1[edit]

Blend of up- +‎ recycle or possibly upgrade +‎ recycle.


upcycle (third-person singular simple present upcycles, present participle upcycling, simple past and past participle upcycled)

  1. (transitive) To convert (waste materials, etc.) into new materials or products of higher quality and greater functionality. [from 1990s]
    • 1994, Jim Mason, editor, Design for Manufacturability, 1994: An Environment for Improving Design and Designing to Improve Our Environment: Presented at the 1994 Design for Manufacturability Conference at the National Design Engineering Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 14–17, 1994 (DE (Series) (American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Design Engineering Division); 67), New York, N.Y.: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, →ISBN, page 75:
      Recycling in many cases means "downcycling" – in particular cases, however, it can also mean "upcycling".
    • 2009, Jacqueline Myers-Cho, “Use, Reuse, Recycle”, in Strands: Creating Unexpected Fabrics and Fashionable Projects, Cincinnati, Oh.: North Light Books, F+W Media, →ISBN, page 7:
      As I child I made thins from "nothing." If I didn't have any store-bought materials, I would go to my closet and cut up my least favorite article of clothing and make something new with it. It just made sense to use, reuse, upcycle and make things from scratch.
    • 2010, Avi Brisman, “The Indiscriminate Criminalisation of Environmentally Beneficial Activities”, in Rob White, editor, Global Environmental Harm: Criminological Perspectives, Cullompton, Devon; Portland, Or.: Willan Publishing, →ISBN; republished Abingdon, Oxon.; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2011, →ISBN, page 166:
      For Tom Szaky, founder and chief executive of TerraCycle, which collects used plastic bags, juice pouches, cookie wrappers and other items that cannot be recycled and ‘upcycles’ or morphs them into items such as messenger bags, tote bags, and pencil cases, trash is a raw material and the key to a multimillion-dollar, ecocapitalist (ad)venture [].
    • 2010, Tyler McNally; Ronald S. Jonash; Hitendra Patel, “Introduction”, in Greenovate!: Companies Innovating to Create a More Sustainable World, [Boston], Mass.: Hult International Business School Pub., →ISBN, page xxiv:
      [] PFNC takes empty shipping containers that are too expensive to recycle or ship back empty to China and converts them into affordable, stackable homes for Mexican workers. [] PFNC makes enough money to continue upcycling shipping containers costs and to invest for future growth.
    • 2012, Peter H[amilton] Raven; David M. Hassenzahl; Linda R. Berg, “Solid and Hazardous Wastes”, in Environment, 8th edition, Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, →ISBN, page 481, columns 1–2:
      Electronic waste—or ewaste—has provided a business opportunity for certain companies, which disassemble old computers, monitors, fax machines, printers, and other electronic equipment that they obtain from businesses and individuals []. These ecycling businesses reclaim the glass from monitors, plastics from casings, and metal from wires and circuit boards and ship the components to manufacturers that upcycle the materials. (Upcycling is a type of recycling that takes discarded materials and makes a new product with a value higher than that of the original materials.)
    • 2015, Hussein ElKersh; Salah M. El-Haggar, “Cradle-to-Cradle and Innovation”, in Salah M. El-Haggar, Sustainability and Innovation: The Next Global Industrial Revolution, Cairo; New York, N.Y.: American University in Cairo Press, →ISBN, page 54:
      Upcycling requires that innovation be integrated with sustainable product development. Several innovative products can be manufactured by upcycling the unrecyclable wastes, such as plastic rejects from municipal solid waste. Such products include bricks, interlocks, manhole covers, table toppings, and road ramps [].
  2. (transitive) To promote into a more productive or useful role.
    • 2011, Danny Seo, “Upcycling the Great Outdoors”, in Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have, Philadelphia, Pa.: Running Press, →ISBN:
      One designer I know was known for his vibrant use of color in his fashions. When he purchased a weekend home not too far from me, he had this crazy idea to paint the bark of the trees in different bright shades. [] To me, this wasn't upcycling the Great Outdoors, but more like upchucking on it.
    • 2017 May 13, Barney Ronay, “Antonio Conte’s brilliance has turned Chelsea’s pop-up team into champions”, in The Guardian[1], London, archived from the original on 9 September 2017:
      Friday night's crowning victory at The Hawthorns was the 25th in 30 league matches since Antonio Conte's decisive re-gearing of his team in September, the tactical switches that have coaxed such a thrilling run from this team of bolt-ons and upcycled squad players, most notably Victor Moses, who was dredged out of the laundry bin in the autumn to become a key part of the title surge.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

up +‎ cycle.


upcycle (plural upcycles)

  1. A period of a cycle where something is increasing or improving.
    • 1943, United States Congress House Committee on Naval Affairs, Investigation of the Progress of the War Effort: Hearings before the Committee on Naval Affairs, House of Representatives, Seventy-eighth Congress, First Session, Pursuant to H. Res. 30, a Resolution Authorizing and Directing an Investigation of the Progress of the War Effort: Renegotiation of War Contracts, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 38509673, page 891:
      You could probably take care of yourself through the cycles but during the period when one of the upcycles—it should be an upcycle for your business—you just said you are going through a worse depression from that standpoint than a normal business depression?
    • 1967, Steel: The Magazine of Metalworking and Metalproducing, volume 161, Cleveland, Oh.: Penton Publishing Co., OCLC 317244954:
      The upcycle has lasted so long that many economists even doubt the old cycle theories. Others try to label the lull in 1962 and again this year as the downcycles.
    • 2009 December, “Staff Appraisal”, in Cambodia: 2009 Article IV Consultation—Staff Report; Staff Supplement; Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; and Statement by the Executive Director (IMF Country Report; no. 09/325), Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, OCLC 530177916, page 19:
      Over the past decade Cambodia has made considerable strides, achieving sustained growth and poverty reduction, aided in part by the global upcycle.
    • 2010, John Downes; Jordan Elliot Goodman, “SECTOR ROTATION”, in Dictionary of Finance and Investment Terms, 8th edition, Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron's Educational Series, →ISBN:
      SECTOR ROTATION stock investment strategy in which mone is moved from one industrial sector to another in an effort to catch respective upcycles and thus outperform the overall market.
    • 2014, Glenn R. Mueller, “Institutional Real Estate Markets”, in H. Kent Baker and Peter Chinloy, editors, Private Real Estate Markets and Investments (Financial Markets and Investments Series), New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN:
      Many historical real estate cycles show that the overall up-cycle proceeds with long periods of rising rents and occupancy rates.
    • 2014, Morten Tolboll, “The Dream Hypothesis and the Brain-in-jar Hypothesis”, in The Matrix Conspiracy: Part 1, Livermore, Calif.: WingSpan Press, →ISBN:
      It is precisely these logical anomalies, paradoxes and problems, which create Samsara's wheel of eternal repeating up-cycles which is followed by eternal repeating down-cycles and vice versa (for example life and death, success and fiasco, joy and sorrow) – as well as the ignorance and suffering when you are caught into this wheel, for example in the experience of nightmare and anxiety.
Alternative forms[edit]

Further reading[edit]