I am looking for a word or phrase to express the idea of making one thing into an entirely new, better thing.
To give a little bit of context, this is in reference to recycling and upcycling.
Perhaps revamp is an appropriate term here. Although not associated with recycling per se it really captures the improvement bit.
Give new and improved form, structure, or appearance to:
an attempt to revamp the museum’s image
(as adjective revamped) a revamped magazine
I would suggest transmogrify:
transmogrify (third-person singular simple present transmogrifies, present participle transmogrifying, simple past and past participle transmogrified)
- (transitive) To completely alter the form of.
- (intransitive) To completely alter one's form.
This word was used by Bill Watterson in his comics Calvin and Hobbes as a name for an imaginary invention which can completely alter one thing into another: the transmogrifier.