Michael Braungart and William McDonough called them “horrible hybrids” in their 2002 book “Crade to Cradle”. Things that are fused together from different materials that cannot be separated and thus not recycled.
Those wind turbine blades features in Bloomberg Green’s article are a prime and sad example. Trying to make a good and durable product, we totally forgot about the end-of-life scenario. Unfortunately there is only one: Bury it. I can only assume that there would be another one, too: Burning – thermal “recycling”, even though I very much dislike the term “thermal recycling”. They cannot even be downcycled.
Downcycling is the recycling of a material into a material of lesser quality. The terms downcycle and downcycling were first used by Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH and Thornton Kay of Salvo Llp in 1993, along with the terms upcycle and upcycling. Almost a decade later, this term was popularized by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
Half a decade later, in 2007, I picked up William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s book and found it extremely insightful and I first appreciated some very basic design considerations. Those considerations do not only apply to product design, but also to architecture and buildings – after all a building is typically a large scale, prototype product (for which the architect carries a 10 year warranty – which is another matter ).
And yet again more than a decade later, we are still building those horrible hybrids.