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208: Office and home furniture from chopsticks

Problem:

Asian fast food consumption in the United States surged by 135% between 1999 and 2015, increasing the popularity of Asian cuisine at an unstoppable rate. This has lead to a significant rise in chopstick use worldwide. It is estimated that in the Metro Vancouver district of Canada alone, approximately 100,000 chopsticks are discarded each day after being used for only 20 minutes to shovel sushi into a greedy mouth.

Solution:

Furniture made out of recycled chopsticks


The idea was born over trays of sushi. Felix Böck, then a PhD student at Canada’s University of British Columbia, was venting his frustration over the scant interest in his proposal to use waste wood from demolition and construction sites.

His solution involves collecting thousands of used chopsticks from restaurants, cleaning them, sorting them and then pressing them in a carbon-neutral hydraulic hot press that Felix Böck designed.

They are then transformed into 8×8-inch engineered bamboo tiles — an innovative new material with the same strength, durability and beauty of the original bamboo. These are then made into furniture and home décor products.

For example; SMILE a modular shelving unit made from 4,276 recycled chopsticks and recycled construction steel; a work-from-home desk from 9,600 chopsticks or a simple butcher’s block.

Böck ‘s start-up ChopValue currently has around 500 partnering companies across the 3 cities they operate in: Vancouver, Montreal, and Los Angeles. They are made up of small and large restaurants in and out of malls, and notably, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) which recently celebrated recycling their 1 millionth chopstick.

By 2021, ChopValue has recycled more than 32 million chopsticks – diverting them from landfills and creating employment for 40 people.

Böck, aged 32, has also developed a franchise concept for global expansion whereby with microfactories operating in multiple cities, ChopValue can truly be local, wherever their suppliers and customers are, for a more efficient process while being a carbon negative company:Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Los Angeles, London and Tokyo

What you can do: Purchase the recycled chopstick items at ChopValue

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