For some reason, Cambridge Dictionary has chosen “upcycling” as word of the year 2019, about which they say:
The number of times upcycling has been looked up on the Cambridge Dictionary website has risen by 181% since December of 2011, when it was first added to the online dictionary, and searches have doubled in the last year alone.
The term appears to have been in use well before the year 2011, for instance www.logophilialimited.com suggests the following earliest usage:
Recycling in many cases means “downcycling” — in particular cases, however, it can also mean “upcycling”. —James Mason, “Design for Manufacturability,” American Society for Mechanical Engineers, March 1, 1994
But even earlier usages appear to be available from Google Books such as:
Whether we should have a upcycling kind of product that comes in at the lower end of the scale, with a lower brightness; or whether we should remain at the 80 or 81 brightness in terms of satisfying the market. So, it's a real concern from a ...
From: Wastepaper I, Demand in the 90's Miller Freeman, 1990 - Recycling industry
Can anyone pin down the earliest available usage of the “term of the year”? Was the term actually coined in the ‘80s?