A review on upcycling: Current body of literature, knowledge gaps and a way forward

Kyungeun Sung
Sung, Kyungeun
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World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology
Peer reviewed
Upcycling is a process in which used materials are converted into something of higher value and/or quality in their second life. It has been increasingly recognised as one promising means to reduce material and energy use, and to engender sustainable production and consumption. For this reason and other foreseeable benefits, the concept of upcycling has received more attention from numerous researchers and business practitioners in recent years. This has been seen in the growing number of publications on this topic since the 1990s. However, the overall volume of literature dealing with upcycling is still low and no major review has been presented. Therefore, in order to further establish this field, this paper analyses and summarises the current body of literature on upcycling, focusing on different definitions, trends in practices, benefits, drawbacks and barriers in a number of subject areas, and gives suggestions for future research by illuminating knowledge gaps in the area of upcycling.
This work was undertaken in Sustainable Consumption Research Group at Nottingham Trent University.
design, sustainability, upcycling, consumption, production, waste management
Sung, K. (2015) A review on upcycling: current body of literature, knowledge gaps and a way forward. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Environment, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Venice, 13-14 April, pp. 28-40
Research Institute
Institute of Art and Design