Recycling, downcycling, upcycling … Et Saola dans tout ça ?

Recycling, downcycling, upcycling… And Saola in all this?

We must first review the definition of recycling (or recycling in French) in order to understand what upcycling (overcycling) and downcycling (decycling) are.
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Do you know upcycling and downcycling?

We must first review the definition of recycling (or recycling in French) in order to fully understand what upcycling (upcycling) and downcycling (decycling) are.


Recycling could be defined as “making new out of old” . This definition is not very scientific but it is correct. The idea is therefore to transform a product/material into another object/substance different from its predecessor. We then obtain a new object without reusing raw material, or very little. The second process is also to be able to reconstruct the same product, identically, from the old one. Isn't that crazy?

There are two different types of recycling of upcycling and downcycling. A distinction is made between closed-loop recycling and open-loop recycling .

To better understand, let's take the example of a plastic bottle :

plastic bottle pollution

  • In a closed loop , the plastic bottle will be recycled into a new plastic bottle, identical to the base one. It is therefore an infinite loop since the plastic is not "degraded" in nature but reused.

  • In open loop , the plastic bottle is transformed. We find this example in certain textiles. These new materials are not subsequently recyclable, it will surely end its life in a landfill. The loop is therefore not infinite .

So you wonder, what are downcycling and upcycling doing here?

Downcycling and upcycling are actually recycling trends.

Downcycling involves recycling the material over and over again, causing it to lose its quality. The material will very rarely find its basic utility. For example, the paper of a book will be transformed into recycled paper. This one is obviously greener , but of lower quality . Be careful though, a lower quality material for a certain application, may be of good quality for another. For example, take steel from cars. Once recycled, this steel can no longer be used due to automotive industry safety standards. On the other hand, it can be reused in the building. So we find a new use for it.

For upcycling , this process appeared in the 90s in developing countries. Upcycling is the act of using end-of-life materials to make a product with added value . That is to say that we reuse a product that is no longer used, or that can no longer be used, in order to make it a useful product .

This way of recycling has a huge positive impact on the environment since it allows much less waste and reduces the amount of waste. We don't transform the material strictly speaking, we cut it, turn it, fold it, in order to obtain a new product. Upcycling is similar to "Do It Yourself" which consists of creating an object yourself when you could find it in the store.


And SAOLA SHOES in all this?

SAOLA shoes are neither upcycling nor downcycling .

We cannot talk about upcycling when talking about Saola since the materials used in the shoes are already recycled materials . Let's go back to the example of plastic bottles. These are first harvested , whether in the bins or in the wild, then are transformed into smaller and smaller chips before being transformed , without additional chemical substances, into granules . These are then melted and stretched like fabric. We are therefore in an open loop where, once the pair of SAOLA has been obtained, it becomes complicated to recycle it like any type of shoe.


Nor can it be said that it is downcycling because the quality of the materials used in the shoe are not of a lower quality compared to their previous function. We use the original material differently without altering the quality, quite simply.

But then, what type of recycling does SAOLA SHOES do?

We use open loop recycling ! Indeed, the materials are harvested from nature and then transformed into SAOLA sneakers. In all transparency, we give a second life to these fossil materials but it is still complicated to make this loop infinite . Nevertheless, we are on different paths that would allow us to reach the utopia of switching to a closed loop system.

Do you see the idea? Yes, indeed, we will soon be able to recycle your SAOLA shoes by reincorporating them into the following collections. Although it is complicated to set up from a material and logistical point of view, we are not giving up and are on the right track .