Did you know that over 100,000 chopsticks are thrown away every day in Vancouver alone? Billions of bamboo chopsticks are shipped over from China each year only to be used once and tossed in the trash. Recognizing this issue as an opportunity, an innovative new company, ChopValue, has developed a way to upcycle chopsticks into a high-performance composite bamboo material which they use to create products like tiles, shelving, yoga blocks and even custom-made furniture.
ChopValue collects used chopsticks from a network of local restaurants. This win-win partnership helps restaurants reduce their landfill waste while providing the company with a steady stream of input material for their products. As of March 2018, the company estimated that they had upcycled over 5 million discarded chopsticks!
We first met the ChopValue team back in 2017, when one of our board members saw their awesome concept on Instagram. Their business was already booming in Vancouver, and they were interested in expanding their operation to Victoria. FED helped connect ChopValue with a number of local businesses and the weekly chopstick pick-ups began. This summer, ChopValue is opening a micro-factory here in Victoria where they will be manufacturing products and projects with the chopsticks collected on the island.
The World Economic Forum states “that three quarters of all raw materials used in industrialized countries end up in landfills in just one year.” With an estimated 80 billion disposable chopsticks being thrown away annually, creating a circular economy with raw materials in new and innovative ways is one of the reasons we are so excited to see this recycling program hit Victoria streets. ChopValue’s Digital Marketer and Community Builder, Luz Alvarado says that, “with your input, we seek to create beautiful pieces and spaces while giving urban waste a second life. Let our team of engineers, designers, and builders help you develop your next project in a sustainable and beautiful way.”