Embedding Sustainability In New SFU Letters

Photo By Taylor Assion

By Teghan Acres

Recycled content labels are popping up more and more on the products we purchase daily—but it can be hard to know where the recycled materials came from and how they were processed. 

At Simon Fraser University, we are championing a new Vancouver-born way of not just recycling materials—but upcycling. That means we are making reused materials into something of higher value. SFU has partnered with ChopValue to locally handcraft our new SFU letters out of 114,240 used chopsticks. Some of the chopsticks collected on campus were used to craft our letters! Look closely… Did you help contribute to the project with your lunch outcasts? 

Since September 2021, SFU has been collecting chopsticks on our campuses in ChopValue bins. ChopValue gathers used chopsticks from local businesses and then transforms the materials into home goods, decor and furniture at local micro-factories. In Metro Vancouver alone, it is estimated that 100,000 chopsticks are discarded every day. ChopValue was founded in Vancouver in 2016 and has now upcycled more than 10 million chopsticks. 

After collecting chopsticks for about a year, SFU decided it was time to reuse those materials at home and embed sustainability into the university letters. ChopValue exemplifies the SFU spirit of sustainable actions, investing in our local communities and innovating to do things differently. The letters are mobile and will travel across SFU campuses to celebrate events, add to our campus vibrancy and engage with our communities. 

By using sustainable materials to create a new legacy sign that will last for years to come, SFU is exemplifying a closed loop approach. This is a core principle of a circular economy where materials are reused over and over again, without being sent to the landfill. 

From the chopsticks accumulated on campus and used to make the SFU letters, we have diverted over 124,256 chopsticks from the landfill. This stores 170,760g of carbon which would have otherwise been released to the atmosphere. 

Next time you’re at the SFU Dining Commons or Maggie Benson Centre, look out for the ChopValue bins to give your used chopsticks a second life. And keep an eye out for the new SFU letters! 

Click here to learn more about the Re-use For Good program.

Click here to learn about other ways that the SFU community is committed to sustainable development.