The definition of upcycling–a process that can be repeated in perpetuity. It returns materials back to a usable form without degrading the latent value of the material.
Upcycling is very similar to recycling. In upcycling, the new item of better or equal value. There can be no downgrading of the original product. The process of upcycling must not pollute.
Recycling on the other hand, is a process of conservation and reduction of waste. The product being recycled usually undergoes a chemical process before it becomes something else.
To sum it up, recycling means the item will eventually end up in the trash. On the other hand, upcycle never adds to the material in landfills and dumps.
For another day—there is also have something called downcycling and repurposing but that is for another day.