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The Art of Upcycling

“One day, in a pile of objects all jumbled up together, 

I found an old bicycle seat right next to a rusty set of handlebars. 

In a flash, they joined together in my head. 

The idea of the Bull's Head came to me before I had a chance to think.” 

This is how Pablo Picasso described his 1942 famous work “Tête de Toreau” (Bull’s Head). When the sculpture was displayed for the first time, visitors were shocked: “How can a piece of garbage be art?”. Tête de Toreau was quickly removed from the exposition. However, history turned out to be on Picasso’s side. Generations of artists and designers would be inspired by the simplicity and power of this kind of “trash to treasure” metamorphosis. And in today’s world, it is an approach that is not only a nice-to-have but an essential part of the circular economy. 

In this week’s Ubuntoo Digest, we celebrate some of the most inspiring innovations and changemakers giving a second life to our waste. When reduce and reuse are not yet an option, upcycling is the best use for our waste. 

Just click the links below or use your Ubuntoo login to browse our solutions as you read this newsletter. And do not hesitate to nominate other changemakers who you think might be interested in joining the Ubuntoo community. 



In the wonderful world of waste upcycling, you will find fashion, furniture, kitchen items, houses, walkways, and even...prosthetic legs! It is also a geographically diverse trend, spread across 5 continents.  We recognize that the volume of plastic upcycled in each individual solution is not very large, but they inspire others that collectively raise awareness of the issue and contribute significantly to solving the problem.

You can use the Upcycle option in the “Value Chain Impact” filter in the Solutions tab of the website to view over 50 solutions featured on Ubuntoo. 

  • Print Your City in the Netherlands is transforming plastic waste of our cities into public space with 3D printing.
  • Miniwiz is a laboratory in Taiwan dedicated to creating creative and patented technologies to upcycle trash.
  • You might also like beautifully designed kitchenware by The Supercyclers in Australia. 
  • In Egypt, Reform Studio is using recycled plastics to create beautiful furniture while Up-Fuse is converting waste bags into waist bags. 
  • The US-Chilean based Bureo is transforming recovered fish nets into sunglasses, surf fins, and skateboards. 
  • And how about upcycling to help improve the lives of amputees? The 2 founders of Circleg are developing a low-cost prosthetic leg system, using recycled plastic.


Unilever & Acumen are still running their Social Innovation Challenge on PlasticEntrepreneurs who are developing new business models for the management of plastic waste - particularly in Brazil, India, and South Africa - can apply. 

A fellow Ubuntoo member is looking for companies and/or organizations that can play a role in the recycling of derelict fishing gear. If you have some ideas about this and would like to contribute to this forum discussion, please join in.

And to end this week’s Ubuntoo Digest on an artistic note:

“Just because people throw it out and don't 

have any use for it, doesn't mean it's garbage.” 

– Andy Warhol 

Trademarks and copyrights are owned by Peter & Venky and information is based on publicly available data. Ubuntoo is not affiliated with Peter & Venky


Screen shot 2020 01 20 at 11.41.53 pm

Peter & Venky

April 28, 2019
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