Fast Company

SocialCycling Turns Unrecyclable Products Into Usable Items

Social Cycling

We write a lot about upcycling, or the practice of reusing products for new purposes to prevent waste. Now DMD Green, an environmental management consulting company, wants to make the process even easier with its new SocialCycling program, which takes items that are nearly impossible (or impossible) to recycle and finds new uses for them.

The program, announced earlier this month, gathers reclaimed materials and post-consumer products from DMD Green clients at a central SocialCycling site. Once at the site, products are separated and delivered to artisans, manufacturers, and anyone else who might have use for them. PVC scrap, for example, is being given to workrooms in Africa to be turned into lining for backpacks. So SocialCycling simultaneously solves a disposal problem for a company and provides a service to African consumers.

In order to make sure its products don't end up in a landfill in China, SocialCycling monitors upcycled materials and products every step of the way. The program keeps a close eye on the chain of custody for its materials and offers a certification to organizations that meet its criteria of accuracy and transparency. In a way, SocialCycling isn't all that different from Terracycle. But instead of marketing its own upcycling products, SocialCycling acts as a central hub for givers and receivers of scrap material--kind of like a Craigslist for unrecyclable stuff.

[DMD Green]

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3 Comments

  • Adrian Bussone

    Here in Providence, RI, there is a place called the "Recycling Center." Funded by various companies in the city and by modest membership fees, the Recycling Center is given scraps or mistakes from local manufacturers and sells it by the pound to members. On any given trip you can find a medley of materials, beads, fabrics, and odds and ends. At just $0.15/lb, it's a great resource center for artists, schools, and other creative types.

  • Sita Magnuson

    I just met someone who is trying to scale this idea by promoting "straw bags," from Uganda (but surely being done somewhere else in the world as well). The women take discarded straws and weave them into bags. They are able to work from home, so can stay with their families, and are using the income generated to pay for their medical bills and food for their families. They are incredible bags - check it out here: http://strawbags.org/