Canadian startup ChopValue has embodied the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” by turning old, used chopsticks into furniture and home decor.
A small start: The idea came to Felix Böck after his partner Thalia Otamendi suggested starting with something as small as chopsticks, according to The Guardian.
- At the time, Böck was a Ph.D. student at the University of British Columbia who was hoping to recycle waste wood from demolition and construction sites.
- With Otamendi’s suggestion in mind, he eventually created ChopValue, a startup that aims to recycle chopsticks from restaurants, houses and schools to turn them into something useful. Now, the startup has managed to recycle and transform over 47 million chopsticks “that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill,” according to its website.
- “Our resource is what others may view as waste – that means we don’t take virgin materials from our environment,” ChopValue wrote. “Every chopstick is perfect, slender, and defect free, making them ideal to develop an innovative engineered material.”
- The startup incorporates heat, steam and pressure in recycling chopsticks sourced from different locations and turning them into wooden tiles. ChopValue also made sure that all chopsticks were “thoroughly cleaned and disinfected during production.”
- ChopValue said that it had collected more than 350,000 a week in Metro Vancouver alone.
- Some of the homeware ChopValue has already made include a wooden workstation, staircases and wall decor.
Going global: ChopValue has expanded its effort across North America and in the United Kingdom and Singapore, Gizmodo reported. The startup has struck a partnership with Return-It in North Vancouver, British Columbia, and it is reportedly eyeing to launch in Australia next.
- “This partnership with ChopValue is a great example of how we can leverage our collection network to divert material from landfill and support innovative companies that share our interest in developing a more circular economy where materials are reused rather than disposed of,” Allen Langdon, Return-It’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
- Uber Eats’ 2021 Cravings Report, released in early November, revealed that Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and “Asian” were among the most popular cuisines Canadians ordered at home this year. All of these cuisines offer chopsticks as their meal’s main eating utensils.
Other details: ChopValue explained in its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page that composting is out of the question since it “generally will emit the embodied carbon content of the chopsticks back into the air” as carbon dioxide.
- The start-up added that since chopsticks are made out of bamboo, a fast-growing grass, they are reportedly one of the “best materials to use for carbon sequestration.”
- “Composting would still be the last resort of circular solutions,” ChopValue wrote. “In general, recovery of energy or nutrients is the last cascade in the circular cycle. On the other hand we are taking the material to the highest and best cascade, where we increase the value of the material exponentially.”