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The upcycled product is a must-have item, but we hesitate to buy...


Purse utilizing the colorful package design of the milk carton, a bag with traces of fire and fire, a key ring made of cut leather for designing a picture of a child, a vase with a beer bottle logo, and a separate dispensing that resembles banana-like milk stick… .

There are many unique ‘ittems’ among upcycle products that are hard to see anywhere. Recycling (Recycle) and Upgrade (Upgrade) was born from a combination (Upcycle), such as a variety of waste bounces through the idea of reborn as a new product.

Upcycle products are highly scarce because waste is a unique material. Another advantage is that purchasing products leads to environmental protection.

As the socially-friendly trend has attracted attention, consumers' interest in the upcycle industry has increased. Many companies are conducting up-cycling campaigns using waste and inventory, and consumer reactions are hot.

It is a typical case that 4,000 bunba sticks (banana milk sticks that are easier to separate and dispose of) made by upcycle makers Teracycle and Binggrae in April were out of stock at the moment and sold into additional production.

The upcycle industry attracted attention in Korea from 2017 to 2018. It is during this period that upcycling centers are open all over the area. For example, dozens of upcycle brand companies, educational facilities, and workshops are in the Seoul Upcycling Plaza, which opened in September 2017 in Seongdong-gu, Seoul.

New recycling education and experience programs for citizens are held here. There are also various types of equipment, so companies or residents can manufacture upcycle products themselves.

However, there are many reports that the domestic upcycling industry has been in a “stay” for several years. Above all, the market size has remained the same for years. It is still at the 0.01% level of the recycled product market (5 trillion won).

Few companies stand out. Upcycle brands are estimated at about 100 (as of the end of 2018), but most are start-ups and workshops. Kolon FnC's RE (CODE) is the only large company that has the funds to lead the market.

That doesn't mean that upcycle products are easily approaching consumers. Even if the idea is brilliant and the design is pretty, the price is too expensive.

An official from an overseas upcycle company said, "There is a process to clean and dispose of waste, so the product price is high."

In fact, the price of a bag made of waste tires is more than 200,000 to 300,000 won. In the consumer community, you can easily see the worry of “I want to buy, but it is too expensive” and “If you know a reasonable upcycle brand, please share it”.

Another problem is that inventory management is difficult and it is difficult to open a market. 61.1% of those who did not purchase up-cycle products accounted for'lack of awareness' and 24.6% of them attributed to'lack of where to buy' (Gyeonggi Research Institute survey).

An official from an upcycle brand in Korea said, “There should be no inventory, so production is low and marketing is not actively done.” That's why novel upcycle products rarely shine.


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