GOOD NEWS Five Reasons to smile
Reader's Digest Canada|May 2021
A SECOND LIFE FOR CHOPSTICKS
Jason McBride

CANADA there are approximately 600 sushi restaurants in Vancouver, arguably making it the sushi capital of North America. Before the pandemic, over 100,000 chopsticks and other wooden utensils were used once and thrown out every day, according to a 2018 study by Metro Vancouver.

In 2016, Felix Böck, then a 27-year-old studying sustainable construction materials at the University of British Columbia, was sitting in a sushi restaurant when he realized he was holding an underused resource in his own hand. thus ChopValue was born. Böck’s start-up recycles used wooden chopsticks and transforms them into premium household objects, from cheeseboards to bookshelves.

The company makes about 30 such items, as well as other custom projects, with each employing a varying number of chopsticks (a charcuterie board, for example, uses 900).

So far, the company has collected and repurposed almost 33 million chopsticks nationwide. Its products can be found in department stores in other major Canadian cities.

The company’s innovations don’t end there, however. ChopValue’s products are manufactured in “microfactories”—franchises with workers (I've to seven on average) who collect chopsticks from local restaurants and produce items that can be sold by local retailers. there are three so far in Canada—in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal—and Böck would like to get to 10 by the end of the year. “We’re trying to scale our idea in the most sustainable way,” he says. “We never wanted to do things the way they were done before. We’re onto something great here, something inspiring.”

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