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Upcycling v. Downcycling v. Asset Recovery: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

Recycling has been around for centuries. The first known use of recycled paper dates to 9th century Japan, when the Japanese government ordered that all paper waste be re-pulped and reused to make new paper. Recycling became popular in the United States during World War II, when tens of thousands of tons of material was recycled to create tanks, guns, ammunition and other war supplies. According to the EPA, from 2005 to 2015, there was a 53.3 million ton increase in recyclable materials recovered from the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.

Recycling is a broad word for a complicated process. Under recycling there are three subcategories: upcycling, downcycling and asset recovery. Read on to learn the differences between these kinds of recycling and how they are transforming industries.

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