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Green Product End-of-life Considerations
May 1, 2008 -
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When considering green interior products for your facility, an important factor in choosing the product with the least environmental impact is what happens to it at the end of its useful life.
There are typically four different things that can happen: the product can be disposed of in a landfill, or it can be recycled, upcycled or downcycled.
Recycling is the most common term. It implies that the product is reprocessed to result in exactly the same product as it started out as.
Upcycling extracts the components of the product and turns them back into virgin materials for use in the same or different products.
Downcycling occurs when a product is broken down into materials or a product for inferior use. It reuses materials, but cannot create the same product it came from.
Recycling and upcycling are the best choices, but if choosing between products that can’t be reused or that can be downcycled, then downcycling is better than nothing. In all cases, simply repurposing or reusing the product as-is is the best case scenario.