Downcycling is the process where unused products are used to produce new items of lesser quality. While some items can repeatedly be reproduced, some materials slowly breakdown with each time they go through the recycling process and is referred to as Downcycling for that reason. At the same time, some experts argue that in all cases, recycling is Downcycling. Despite this, Downcycling continues the idea of reducing the need for accessing raw materials excessively.
An example of Downcycling can be seen in the case of plastics. Certain plastics break down as they are processed for reuse and therefore are used to make lesser quality items like fleece or siding. While the quality of the plastic is less than it was originally, it still lessens the need to access more raw materials required to create the plastic material to make those products.
Greenhome.com. “What is Downcycling?” Greenhome.com. http://www.greenhome.com/blog/what-is-downcycling. Accessed July 28, 2016.