Over a plate of sushi, Canadian entrepreneur, Felix Böck, came up with an ingenious idea. A small number of modern furniture companies had tapped into recycling construction waste wood for their products. However, no one had ever thought to save smaller bits of wood … his chopsticks for instance.
ChopValue Four years later, ChopValue has recycled over 32 million chopsticks, 32,167,240 to be exact. Böck started building his business by distributing recycling bins in all chopsticks using restaurants across Vancouver. Despite some funny looks, most restaurants he went in to were on board with the idea. After the team established how to successfully clean the chopsticks, it was time to launch the business. Every week, ChopValue collects the used chopsticks from each restaurant and takes them back to one of their microfactories. In these factories, chopsticks are cleaned, treated, and transformed into sleek furniture and household items. ChopValue sells a range of household products, including tablet stands, chopping boards, and table tops. Each butchers block uses 886 chopsticks, while a desk uses around 9,600.
One of the first companies to collaborate, Pacific Poke, praised Böck's innovative idea. “We’re selling a couple of hundred bowls a day," explained Pacific Poke co-founder Dong Lam, "you can imagine how many chopsticks that adds up to over time.” Pacific Poke has adopted ChopValue's circular economy approach, purchasing ChopValue tabletops and chopstick artwork to use in their restaurants across Canada. The business has expanded from Canada to North America, with around 350,000 chopsticks being recycled from Vancouver to Florida.
Sustainability While ChopValue is striving to go global, Böck explains that they wish to do so on a local level. The expansion relies on the creation of a network of local microfactory franchises. Each franchise would collect chopsticks from local restaurants, and sell the products locally too. This network of franchises allows ChopValue to grow their brand and reach more areas, without increasing their carbon footprint through air miles. ChopValue prides itself on transparency, and thus they publish annual Urban Impact Reports to detail to shareholders, customers, and potential customers their environmental impact. ChopValue is an amazing example of innovative waste reduction, working towards a circular economy, one chopstick at a time. It’s the little acts that make the biggest differences.