The Resilience Report: Upcycling Plastic to Level Up Our Economy

This is another great episode of The Resilience Report from Lauren Scott. It is short and to the point, which is great for people like me with short attention spans.

In this Episode, Lauren chats with Jonathan B. Mailhot.

 Jonathan leads sales and procurement at Plastiques DC and EnergiPlast. With over 4.5 million pounds of recycled materials being processed between the two plants on a MONTHLY basis, he enjoys playing a significant part in the circular economy within the plastics industry and continuing to learn from an experienced team surrounding him.

The Topic:

I found this interview encouraging. With all the negative talk about the damage plastic is doing to the environment, I am hopeful that with innovative thinkers like Jonathan we can have the convinences of plastics and a clean environment too!

If you have not already done so, click on the link and subscribe to the Resilience Report.

The Power of Upcycling: Reducing Waste and Preserving the Environment

In our modern world, plastic waste has become a significant environmental concern. Recycling has been promoted as a solution, but its effectiveness in mitigating the damage caused by plastic waste is limited. However, there is an alternative approach gaining momentum: upcycling. In this blog post, we will explore the concepts of upcycling and why they are so important in our efforts to reduce waste and preserve the environment.

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is the process of reusing discarded materials or waste to create new products of higher quality or value. Unlike recycling, which breaks down materials to their basic form before creating new products, upcycling preserves the integrity of the original material.

The Advantages of Upcycling

  1. Waste Reduction: Upcycling plastic waste helps divert it from landfills and incinerators, reducing the amount of waste that accumulates in our environment. By giving new life to discarded materials, we can significantly decrease the volume of waste produced.

  2. Energy Efficiency: Traditional recycling processes often require a substantial amount of energy to break down and transform materials. In contrast, upcycling consumes less energy since it skips the energy-intensive process of breaking down materials to their raw form.

  3. Pollution Reduction: The manufacturing of new plastic products contributes to pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions. Upcycling reduces the need for new plastic production, resulting in fewer emissions and less pollution associated with manufacturing processes.

  4. Resource Conservation: Plastic is derived from valuable natural resources such as petroleum. By upcycling plastic waste, we conserve these resources, reducing the need for extracting and processing new materials.

Plastic Waste and its Environmental Impact

Plastic waste poses a severe threat to the environment and ecosystems. Here are a few key points to consider:

  1. Slow Decomposition: Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose naturally. As a result, it accumulates in landfills and litters our oceans, causing long-term environmental damage.

  2. Marine Life and Human Health Risks: Billions of plastic waste fragments end up in the oceans, posing risks to marine life and human health. Marine animals can mistake plastic debris for food, leading to ingestion and entanglement, which can be fatal.

  3. Climate Change Contribution: The manufacturing of plastic bottles contributes to climate change due to the energy-intensive processes involved. By reducing the demand for new plastic products through upcycling, we can help mitigate these climate impacts.

Examples of Upcycling Plastic

The possibilities for upcycling plastic waste are vast. Here are some creative ideas:

  1. Plastic Bottle Planters: Transform plastic bottles into planters for growing herbs, flowers, or small vegetables. Cut off the top portion of a plastic bottle, add soil, and plant your desired greenery.

  2. Plastic Bottle Caps Filler: Collect plastic bottle caps and use them as filler material in larger containers or vases. This upcycling technique reduces the need for additional materials while providing stability to your arrangements.

  3. Eco-Bricks: Create eco-bricks by filling plastic bottles with tightly packed plastic waste. These bricks can be used as building blocks for structures such as benches, walls, or even entire buildings.

  4. Plastic Bag Yarn: Cut plastic bags into thin strips and twist them together to create yarn-like material. This “plarn” can be used for knitting or crocheting various items like bags, mats, or even clothing.

  5. Repurposed Plastic Containers: Give small plastic containers, such as yogurt cups or food containers, a new purpose as organizers for small items like office supplies, craft supplies, or kitchen utensils.

The Social and Economic Benefits of Upcycling

Upcycling plastic waste not only benefits the environment but also has positive social and economic impacts:

  1. Job Creation: Upcycling supports local economies by providing employment opportunities. Small businesses and artisans can thrive by creating new products from plastic waste, contributing to the growth of sustainable industries.

  2. Cost Savings: Businesses can save money by utilizing upcycled materials instead of purchasing new ones. This cost-effectiveness can lead to greater profitability and resource optimization.

  3. Local Economy Boost: By supporting local upcycling initiatives, we contribute to the growth of local economies. Small businesses can flourish, creating a ripple effect that benefits communities as a whole.

Tips for Successful Plastic Upcycling

Here are some practical tips to make the most out of your plastic upcycling efforts:

  1. Sort Plastics by Type: Different types of plastics have distinct properties and may require different approaches when upcycling. Sort your plastic waste accordingly to ensure compatibility and maximize the quality of your upcycled products.

  2. Utilize Recycling Centers or Programs: Take advantage of local recycling centers or municipal programs that accept plastic waste. They can provide guidance, resources, and sometimes even workshops on upcycling.

  3. Get Creative: Let your imagination run wild! Think outside the box and explore unique ways to repurpose plastic waste. The more innovative and creative you are, the greater the impact you can make through upcycling.

  4. Reduce Overall Plastic Consumption: Alongside upcycling, strive to reduce your overall consumption of single-use plastics. Opt for reusable alternatives, such as refillable water bottles and cloth shopping bags, to minimize your plastic waste generation.


Upcycling offers a powerful solution to combat plastic waste and contribute to a more sustainable world. By reusing discarded materials, we reduce waste accumulation, conserve resources, and minimize pollution. Furthermore, upcycling fosters job creation, supports local economies, and empowers communities to take an active role in environmental preservation. Let’s embrace the concept of upcycling and make a difference in our fight against plastic pollution. Together, we can build a future where waste is transformed into valuable resources.






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