ChopValue: upcycling disposable bamboo chopsticks

Asian restaurants often serve food with disposable bamboo chopsticks. To prevent these from disappearing in the trash, the Canadian startup ChopValue has come up with a way to upcycle them into interior products, collecting the chopsticks from restaurants in Vancouver.

Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials of earth, growing up to a metre (3 feet) per day. The material is used to produce billions of disposable chopsticks worldwide. However, no matter how sustainable or renewable, it still costs water and energy to produce the plant. Disposable chopsticks are usually only used once for less than an hour, creating enormous amounts of waste as they are hardly ever recycled. Vancouver, where ChopValue operates, alone sends over 100,000 disposable chopsticks to the landfill every day.

By recycling the chopsticks, restaurants can save money on garbage collection costs, while also improving their environmental footprint. ChopValue places recycling bins at participating restaurants and collects the chopsticks, giving them a second life cycle as interior products.

The bamboo chopsticks are processed into a new material, which still has the characteristics of bamboo. The sticks are first cleaned, then coated in resin, and finally hot-pressed into a laminated material. The ‘planks’ are cut and put together into a range of interior products, such as wall tiles, yoga blocks, and coasters. They also produce table tops made from chopsticks.  The base is handcrafted out of reclaimed wood or salvaged steel sourced from local, demolished construction sites.

The smallest product, the coaters, uses 300 chopsticks. Since its inception in July 2016, the company has recycled 800,000 chopsticks, saving them from becoming trash.

ChopValue is currently looking for new national and international opportunities. Visit their website here.

Photos: ChopValue