Part of promoting proper reuse strategies includes understanding how “reuse” differs from other similar terms. Office managers who want to embrace environmental office solutions should also have a firm grasp of what “upcycling” is, since it’s a term with specific connotations that has benefits as well as limitations.

In an article for GreenBiz, Tom Szaky of TerraCycle writes about the way upcycling differs from reuse. As he puts it, upcycling involves putting new materials in a completely new context, whereas reuse requires putting the older objects to a similar purpose in a new form. Both are ways to avoid generating unnecessary waste, but reuse keeps substances in line with the original intention.

While it may have its place in the greater scheme of green practices, Szaky writes that upcycling is a “relatively low-volume solution” that doesn’t yet match the sheer size of material waste present in the world today.

“Not only is upcycling limited by the number of people who are willing to do it but the current market size (as demonstrated by the companies that are in the upcycling business) is very small — perhaps because it’s a relatively new business concept or perhaps because the market actually is quite small,” he says.

Rather than invest in this unsure process, companies should turn to professionals in materials reuse that will find an appropriate new solution for previous used office furniture material. In the right circumstances, customized office desks, chairs and workstations can be built based on the successful strength of proven furniture materials from local sources.

Working with this kind of locally available material leaves the chance for businesses to benefit directly by using it to fit the unique needs of their company. In this case, “upcycling’ isn’t an option for the furniture needs of a functioning business.