Downcycling … ?

Downcycling, also referred to as cascading, describes the recycling of waste in cases where the recycled material is of lower quality and functionality than the original material. An important example of downcycling is the accumulation of tramp elements in secondary metals, which may exclude the latter from high-quality applications. Steel scrap from end-of-life vehicles, for example, is often contaminated with copper from wires and tin from coating. This contaminated scrap yields a secondary steel that does not meet the specifications for automotive steel and therefore, it is mostly applied in the construction sector.

Downcycling can help to keep materials in use, to reduce consumption of raw materials, and to avoid the energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and water pollution of primary production and resource extraction.


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