Vancouver-based company ChopValue is transforming disposable chopsticks into high-quality cutting boards, coasters, and more.
In 2016, while on a sushi dinner date, Felix Böck and his partner, Thalia Otamendi, took a look at their single-use bamboo chopsticks and saw in them the base for an entirely new product. So Böck used his background in woodworking and his PhD in structural bamboo engineering to come up with a new composite material that’s highly durable and sustainable, looks just as sleek as finished hardwood, and is made entirely of recycled chopsticks.
Today, Böck’s Vancouver-based company, ChopValue, collects thousands of used chopsticks from restaurants, shopping malls, airports, hotels, and casinos around the city. “We’re using waste that people would ordinarily throw away and turning it into a resource that people can bring into their homes, kitchens, restaurants, and businesses,” says Sabrina Kon, ChopValue’s head of community and impact. The chopsticks are processed in Microfactories around the world, including (but not Canada, the United States, Bali, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Mexico, localizing collection and manufacturing to cut down on shipping emissions.
During the production process, the chopsticks are sorted by color and material (dark bamboo, light bamboo, and wood), dipped into water-based resin, and heated to get rid of bacteria and moisture. They’re then compressed to make modular tiles, which can be used in all kinds of home goods.
ChopValue has now saved over 150 million chopsticks and counting from the landfill, transforming them into furniture and housewares like cutting boards, tabletops, shelving, and drawer fronts. Read on for our favorites.
Three ChopValue products to add to your kitchen
These shelves take cues from midcentury and industrial design, but instead of boards made from felled trees, they’re engineered from up to 2,188 recycled chopsticks. They’ll look great holding jars of pantry goods and your cookbook collection. (From $149)
Weighty and intricately patterned, this cutting board is easy on your knives thanks to the sturdy but gentle end-grain cut of 800-plus compressed chopsticks. (From $95)
ChopValue’s coasters double as conversation starters, thanks to their unique origin. When someone asks about them, you can say each one saved 75 chopsticks from the landfill. ($14 for a set of two)
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