Glass products can be made into something of equal or greater value.

Once considered an optional lifestyle option, recycling has become a common activity in most areas. One type of recycling, called downcycling, involves reusing a material into a new, lower-quality product. This can include various types of plastic, paper products, and other materials.

Downcycling is also known as downstream recycling. It is more common in terms of industrial materials. These products lose their value as they are recycled, limiting their ability to be reused. Its recycled form is often weaker and cheaper than its original configuration. White writing paper, for example, is often turned into cardboard; once recycled to this new form, it can no longer be reused as white paper.

Downcycling involves reusing a material, such as aluminum cans, into a lower-quality product, such as jewelry.

The materials resulting from this process lost their viability and are considered an example of backward compatibility based on planned obsolescence, a company strategy to demand new purchases due to the short life of their products. Another example of downcycling includes the use of plastic components. Plastics that are recycled result in lower quality products.

Recycling has become commonplace in most US cities and towns.

Giving new life to products is considered a good way to reuse materials and avoid waste. However, once recycled to their full capacity, these materials degrade so much that they can no longer be reused. Since recycled products are considered inferior in quality to their original form, they cannot be used to remake their original product.

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The products have codes to determine their qualities and whether or not they are recyclable. Plastic, glass and aluminum products coded with the number one can be transformed into something of equal or greater value. This type of recycling is known as upcycling and represents the future compatibility of recycled components. Materials available for downcycling, such as water, juice and milk bottles, are coded with the number two. They cannot be reused to contain food grade items after being recycled.

Items available for recycling often require additional chemicals, energy, and other treatments to turn them into something usable. Durable plastic products, in particular, require a lot of extra treatment. Trash bins, tables, and chairs are also considered energy-intensive materials to recycle.

When a product reaches code seven, it is no longer considered recyclable. This usually happens when a substance is mixed with other substances, such as different types of plastic with various recycling codes. As these products can no longer be made new, they must be reused or disposed of, usually in a landfill.

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