A lot of words get thrown around these days to talk about old materials being used again; reclaimed, recycled, vintage, repurposed - is there really a difference, and if so, what? Cawarden are here to clear up some of the confusion between the terms, and to discuss the benefits of using reclaimed vs recycled materials in comparison to each other.
What’s the difference?
Here’s a glossary for the most commonly used terms to let you know what the terms used actually mean for the materials you’re considering:
The process for something being classified as ‘recycled’ is as follows: an item, such as a plastic bottle, is identified as ‘waste’ meaning it won't be used for its original purpose again. At this point, it is processed to take it back to a previous point in its ‘cycle’, i.e. it is processed back to the moldable plastic that it was before it became a ‘plastic bottle’, and that plastic is then used to create something new - even if that be a new plastic bottle. The core principle is that something is reverted to a prior state of its cycle,to then be used as a material to make a new item.
If something is reclaimed, it means it has not been altered since its final ‘state’. If you have recycled wood, a wooden item will have been processed into wood mulch and then reconstructed. Reclaimed wood, however, is not altered. It may be used for a different purpose - a table top may become a sliding door - but the actual material is not processed or changed in any way before being ‘reclaimed’ into a new purpose. Interestingly, this means that what we know as ‘recycled’ water is actually reclaimed water; water is not altered and therefore cannot revert. However, the term ‘recycled’ was purposefully chosen as it was a term at the time that had gained popularity - people liked to think of things as recycled, so the wrong term was given.
Which is better?
Reclaimed vs Recycled is is largely a case of personal preference, but there are some points to consider for both. Environmentally, either recycled or reclaimed will always be preferential to a newly made item or material. Reclaimed is arguably that little bit better than recycled, as no extra machine power is needed to process the material. That works for items such as wood, but for plastic you really need to recycle it to get much usability. The other thing is that you’re more likely to have a FSC certificate for recycled material, as the process for giving one to reclaimed materials is long and complex, requiring many steps and resources. Realistically, in the fight of reclaimed vs recycled, both are a good decision.
Whether reclaimed materials or recycled materials are best for you and the project you’re undertaking, be proud of the fact that you’re researching sustainable resources and are reusing the materials that are already available to us. If you require help or guidance for your project, don’t hesitate to contact the expert team at Cawarden on 01889 574066.