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Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Precycling is the practice of avoiding the acquisition of unnecessary items that will eventually have to be recycled or dealt with as waste. 

Examples of precycling include:

  • Limiting purchases to things that you need.
  • Delaying purchases that aren't urgently needed.
  • Buying in bulk to avoid extra packaging. 
  • Selecting products that will last. 
  • Sharing items rather than buying individually.

Precycling is perhaps even more effective in a business setting than it is in the home. In a hot desking environment, for example, employees outnumber workstations, which leads to lower overhead costs. Furthermore, the BYOD (bring your own device) trend also means that employees often use their own computers at work, rather than requiring one for the office and one for home. Limiting printing and using digital formats rather than hard copies is another way to save resources and money. 

Many business purchases can be delayed. Not so long ago, for example, a three-year-old computer was considered obsolete. However, recent advances in technology mean that computers have a much longer effective life span and don't need to be replaced so often. 

Precycling is an opposing concept to planned obsolescence, the practice of designing and developing products that will be functional or useful for a limited time period, as a means of promoting consumption. 


See also: upcycling, downcycling

This was last updated in December 2012

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