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.
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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.