Upcycling is a promising, circular-economy-based, green solution utilising multiple innovative material processes involving minimisation of waste and toxicity, saving in energy and water, and reduction in emissions and pollution, in order to transform used/waste products and materials into new/modified products and materials with higher quality and/or values compared to the compositional elements. Upcycling not only benefits the environment, but also creates new job opportunities and contributes to people’s psychological wellbeing (as a ‘prosumer’ who upcycles items at home and as an ethical consumer who purchases upcycled goods). Multidisciplinary approaches are required to understand upcycling in businesses (e.g. sustainable manufacturers, eco-enterprises) and households (e.g. sustainable consumer behaviour or lifestyle), and promote upcycling through appropriate interventions (e.g. policies).

This first International Upcycling Festival in Leicester, UK, in 2024 aims to enhance our understanding of upcycling in theory and practice in businesses (of design, making, production or waste management) and the consumption domain (as behaviour or lifestyle) drawing on different disciplines, sectors and socio-cultural contexts. It will promote upcycling internationally with three objectives: (i) to have a traditional, academic conference to advance knowledge; (ii) to engage with upcycling businesses for a direct positive impact on their practices; and (iii) to engage with the general public to raise awareness of upcycling. The focus of the conference is how we could work together across disciplines, sectors and countries/regions to scale up upcycling for significant positive impact on the environment, society and people. 

We invite everyone interested in upcycling as a topic for research or as a practice in businesses or households. We would like you to share your amazing research and/or practice in upcycling with the global audience. We are looking for a variety of contributions to the festival including academic papers, workshops, business training sessions, exhibitions, and pop-up shops. We especially welcome inter/multidisciplinary, cross-sector, and/or international collaborative work. 

This festival is a two-day event: the first day (Thursday 11th) focuses on the academic conference at De Montfort University (DMU), and the second day (Friday 12th) focuses on engaging with businesses and the general public at LCB Depot (Leicester’s hub for creative people & businesses). The festival is part of the International Upcycling Research Network project funded by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) between 2022 and 2024. The event is jointly organised between DMU and the University of Botswana in partnership with LCB Depot.