Environmental footprint of upcycled grocery tote bag

CASE STUDY | Small mother-and-daughter-run company Relan turns old banners and billboards into bags. PRé did an environmental impact assessment to help Relan find ways to further reduce impacts and improve customer communication.

April 09, 2014


Upcycling – making old things better

From a materials perspective, recycling is often ‘downcycling.’ Raw materials created by breaking down old products are often lower quality than new raw materials. So far, it’s proven impossible to obtain an equivalent degree of purity. Because of this, sustainability experts worldwide are looking into ways to avoid or postpone classical recycling. For a sustainable future, we need to be able to ‘upcycle’ – use old materials in a way that’s as good or better than the original.

One way forward is to take a wider perspective on the flow of energy and materials. Another one is to think of ways to re-use old materials without fully breaking them down to their components. This requires companies to think creatively about what they can do with their waste materials. Turning products into raw materials of excellent quality, not by changing the materials, but by changing our perspective.


Grocery Totes With a Small Product Environmental Footprint

Relan focuses on discarded advertising billboards and banners, and uses them as raw materials for their bags – turning hard-to-recycle plastic into stylish and useful consumer items. PRé was impressed with their vision and offered to do an environmental footprinting of one of their bags. For more information on the results of this analysis, and its business value, please read the full case study or contact our experts.

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Paula Bernstein
Paula Bernstein