Top 21 Examples of Upcycled Packaging

Upcycled Packaging - Thumbnail
This innovative approach of upcycled packaging is not only addresses the current issues of excessive waste, but also transforms discarded materials into valuable and functional packaging solutions.
Plastic pollution and climate change are creating the pressure on companies and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and look for alternatives to single-use plastic packaging.
To minimize the effect of packaging on the carbon footprint, the industry needs to introduce a range of new repurposed materials.

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Currently, environmental issues are at the forefront of global discussions, industries are looking for innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprint for a more sustainable future.

What is Upcycled Packaging?

Upcycled packaging refers to the creative and innovative reuse of discarded or waste materials in their existing form to create new and valuable packaging solutions.
Upcycling packaging adds value to existing materials by transforming them into higher-quality and more functional products.
This sustainable approach of upcycling packaging or zero waste packaging helps to reduce the demand for new raw materials, minimizes energy consumption and lowers the environmental impact.
This introduction sets the stage for a deeper exploration of upcycled packaging, inviting us to delve into the materials, technologies and design principles that transforms waste into wonder.

What is difference between upcycled packaging and recycled packaging?

Upcycled PackagingRecycled Packaging

Definition: Upcycled packaging refers to the use of waste material and transforming them into products of higher value than the original.

Definition: Recycled packaging refers to materials that have been previously used and processed to create new packaging products.

Process: The focus is giving a new and innovative life to materials that might have been discarded.

Process: The material is break down into raw form for creating new one.

Example: A company takes old denim jeans and repurposes them into stylish and durable packaging for luxury goods.

Example: A beverage company uses recycling process where they are melted and reformed discarded material into fresh packaging material.
Key Differences
Transformation Process: Upcycled packaging involves repurposing existing materials without breaking them down into raw form, while recycled packaging involves breaking down used materials into raw materials before reconstruction.
Value Addition: Upcycled packaging adds value to existing material by transforming them into higher quality, whereas recycled packaging focuses on reusing materials in a more traditional ways.
Example: In upcycled packaging, the original material might retain its form, like a denim jean becoming a packaging material.
In recycled packaging, the original material is typically broken down, such as plastic bottles being melted to create new packaging.

Benefits of Upcycled Packaging

1. Waste Reduction
Upcycled packaging significantly participates in waste reduction by utilizing discarded materials that might end up in landfills or oceans if not used.
2. Energy Saving
Manufacturing of new material from scratch often require significant amounts of energy.
Upcycled packaging, on the other hand, generally requires less energy consumption since it uses existing materials rather than creating new one from scratch.
3. Carbon Footprint Reduction
By using repurposed materials into packaging solutions, companies can reduce their carbon footprint.
This is achieved by minimizing the need for extracting, processing and transporting for raw materials, which all are energy-intensive processes.
4. Innovation and Creativity
Upcycled packaging encourages innovation and creativity in design.
Companies can create unique and aesthetically pleasing packaging solutions by repurposing a wide range of discarded materials.
5. Emission Reduction
The upcycling process often results in lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional manufacturing process.
6. Circular Economy Promotion
Upcycled packaging aligns with the principles of a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repurposing of materials.
7. Cost Efficiency
By adopting upcycled packaging, companies can benefit in cost, as upcycled and recycled materials are often more economical than creating new one from scratch.
8. Positive Brand Image
Brands, which are using upcycled packaging often create a positive public perception.
In conclusion, upcycled packaging is more than a trend; it’s a dynamic and transformative force with a multiple benefits.

Examples of Upcycled Packaging

1. Paper and Cardboard
Upcycled packaging for paper and cardboard involves repurposing of discarded materials to create new, functional and aesthetically pleasing packaging.
Here are some notable examples.
Seed Paper Packaging
1. Seed Paper Packaging
Innovative example of upcycling packaging is the creation of “seed paper packaging.
Seed paper is a type of handmade paper that includes embedded seeds.
After the paper is used for packaging, it can be planted and the embedded seeds will grow into plants.
Upcycling for Gift Packaging
2. Gift Packaging
Discarded paper and cardboard can be upcycled to create sturdy and environmentally friendly packaging solutions, such as gift packaging.
This approach helps to reduce the need for fresh paper production, conserving forests and lowering the environmental impact.
2. Plastic Bottles and Containers
Plastic waste is creating a significant environmental issues and on other hand upcycled packaging offers a solution.
By repurposing used plastic bottles and containers, companies or individual can create durable and functional packaging without contributing to the plastic pollution problem.
Upcycled Packaging - Shoes from Ocean Plastics
3. Adidas x Parley Ocean Plastic Packaging
Adidas collaborated with Parley to create shoe packaging from upcycled ocean plastic.
This innovative approach addresses marine pollution by showcasing a commitment towards sustainable practices.
4. EcoBricks
An excellent example of upcycling packaging using plastic bottles and containers is the creation of “EcoBricks” or “Bottle Bricks.”
EcoBricks involve, stuffing clean and dry plastic bottles tightly for creating a dense and sturdy building block.
These EcoBricks can be used for various construction projects.
Builded Sustainable Schools Out of Plastic Bottles in Guatemala.
Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder - Repurposed Material
5. Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder
Cut and shape a plastic bottle into a bird feeder.
Add perches and fill it with birdseed.
3. Textile Waste
By upcycling fabrics and textiles, we can create unique and visually appealing packaging solutions.
Upcycled Garments - Zero Waste Packaging
7. Patagonia’s ReCrafted Collection
Upcycled garments made from used clothing.
The brand takes worn-out pieces and transforms them into new, unique clothing items.
Patagonia also design outfits by using recycled plastics.
These are the best Sweater Fleece Jacket made of recycled plastic, where you can buy them at the best price.
Fabric Gift Wrap or Furoshiki
8. Fabric Gift Wrap or Furoshiki
Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that can be used to wrap and carry items.
It has gained popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional gift wrapping.
This upcycling example not only repurposes textile waste, but also promotes a zero-waste and sustainable approach to gift wrapping.
T-shirt Tote Bags - Upcycling Packaging
9. T-shirt Tote Bags
Transform old t-shirts into reusable tote bags.
Cut and sew the bottom of the shirt, leaving the neckline as the bag opening.
This idea helps reduce the need for plastic bags.
Denim Pocket - Zero Waste Packaging
10. Denim Pocket Organizers
Cut pockets from old denim jeans and sew them onto a fabric or canvas backing.
Hang this organizer on the wall for a stylish way to store small items.
4. Metal Upcycled Packaging
Transforming discarded metal materials, like aluminum or steel, into upcycling.
This can include upcycled metal cans, containers or innovative designs that incorporate reclaimed metal.
Tin Can Planters
11. Tin Can Planters
This involves repurposing of used metal tin cans into decorative and functional plant containers.
This upcycling example transforms discarded metal containers into aesthetically planters.
It is promoting a sustainable and creative way to reuse metal packaging.
Soda Can Wall Art
12. Soda Can Wall Art
Cut and shape aluminum soda cans into decorative wall art.
Create patterns or images by arranging and securing the flattened cans onto a canvas or wooden board.
5. Glass Upcycled Packaging
This may involve cleaning and reshaping of used glass items for new packaging purposes, such as candle holders, vases or other decorative elements.
13. Candle Holders
This upcycling example transforms glass bottles into functional candle holders.
It’s a DIY project that allows for personalization and encourages the reuse of glass containers in a decorative and practical manner.
Mason Jar Herb Garden
14. Mason Jar Herb Garden
Convert empty mason jars into a mini herb garden.
Fill the jars with soil and plant herbs.
Arrange them on a windowsill for a functional and decorative kitchen accessory
Pendant Lights
15. Pendant Lights
Remove labels from glass bottles and transform them into pendant lights.
Wire a bulb socket through the neck of the bottle and hang them for unique and eco-friendly lighting.
6. Wood Upcycled Packaging
It involve reusing and repurposing of wood materials, such as pallets or discarded wooden items for creating eco-friendly packaging solutions.
This can include wooden boxes, crates or decorative packaging.
Upcycling Furniture
16. Furniture
This upcycling example not only prevents wooden items from ending up in landfills, but also provides an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to furnish your home.
It encourages sustainability by giving new life to discarded wood and promotes a DIY mindset.
Pallet Wood Plant Stand
17. Pallet Wood Plant Stand
Disassemble wooden pallets and repurpose the planks into a rustic plant stand.
Arrange the planks to form shelves for potted plants, creating a visually appealing garden display.
7. Electronic Waste Upcycled Packaging
It involves repurposing electronic waste components, such as circuit boards or computer parts into creative and functional packaging.
This type of upcycled packaging often showcases a blend of technology and sustainability.
Circuit Board Art - Upcycling Packaging
18. Circuit Board Art
This involves repurposing of discarded electronic components especially circuit boards to create unique and visually stunning pieces of art.
By transforming electronic waste into art, not only prevents hazardous materials from entering landfills but also raises awareness about the growing issue of e-waste.
CD Case Photo Frames
19. CD Case Photo Frames
Repurpose old CD cases into photo frames.
Insert pictures into the CD case and prop it up for a creative and transparent display.
8. Biodegradable Upcycled Packaging
Creating packaging from biodegradable materials that have been upcycled, such as discarded plant-based products.
Utilizing agricultural waste, such as husks, stems, or other plant-based materials in mycelium packaging to create sustainable and compostable packaging solutions.
Mushroom Packaging for Wine Bottle
20. Wine and Beverage Packaging
Upcycled packaging for wine and beverage aims to reduce environmental impact by repurposing materials and giving them a new life.
This sustainable approach not only minimizes waste, but also adds a unique and creative touch to the packaging.
Biodegradable Packaging for Electronics
21. Electronics Packaging – Dell
Dell’s upcycled packaging for electronics represents a commitment to reducing environmental impact and fostering a circular economy.
The company recognizes the importance of minimizing waste and lowering its carbon footprint in the production and delivery of technology.

Challenges for Upcycled Packaging

1. Consistency of Supply
One challenge is a consistent and reliable supply of upcycled materials.
The availability of suitable waste materials for upcycling packaging can vary and impacting production continuity.
2. Quality Control
Maintaining consistent quality in upcycled packaging materials can be challenging due to variations in the source materials.
3. Consumer Perception
Some consumers may believe that upcycled packaging is inferior in terms of appearance or durability.
4. Limited Material Options
Certain industries and applications may have limited options for upcycled materials or upcycling process.
5. Processing Techniques
Upcycling processes may require specialized equipment and techniques and not all materials can be easily transformed into high-quality packaging.
Developing efficient and cost-effective processing method for discarded material is a significant challenge.
6. Regulatory Compliance
Adhering to regulatory standards and certifications for upcycled packaging materials can be complex.
7. Supply Chain Complexity
Managing a supply chain for collecting, processing and transporting diverse waste materials can be difficult and complex.
8. Innovation and Design Constraints
Aesthetical design and functionality of upcycled packaging may create challenges because of material’s limitation.
9. Scalability
Increasing production of upcycled packaging can be challenging, especially if the supply of suitable waste materials is not readily available in larger quantities.
10. End-of-Life Considerations
End-of-life of upcycled packaging materials poses challenges, as not all materials may be easily recyclable or compostable.


Upcycled packaging represents a crucial step toward a more sustainable and eco-friendly future.
By creatively repurposing materials that would otherwise become waste, businesses can make a positive impact on the environment and meet the growing demand for sustainable products.
As consumers become more conscientious about their choices, upcycled packaging stands out as a beacon of innovation and responsible business practices in the world of packaging solutions.

2 thoughts on “Top 21 Examples of Upcycled Packaging”

    1. As such of our knowledge, there might not be specific global regulations. However, the regulations that govern packaging materials, in general, may apply to upcycled packaging as well. These regulations often address issues such as safety, labeling and environmental impact.

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