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Revaluing Chopstick Waste at SFU with ChopValue
You’ve heard of recycling soda cans and old newspapers, but what about chopsticks? SFU Food partners with ChopValue to collect chopsticks on campus to give the materials a second life.
What is ChopValue?
Disposable chopsticks are a common single-use item found in restaurants around the world. Felix Bock had moved to Vancouver to study wood and construction waste, but was struggling to work with industry. The idea to create his own solution with chopsticks dawned upon him over dinner with his partner.
Böck says, “I have a background in wood engineering from Germany and was pursuing a PhD in structural bamboo composites in Vancouver, where I quickly developed a sushi addiction. I had an eye-opening moment when I connected the chopsticks I ate dinner with to the vast amount of under-utilized wood resources from demolished construction sites.”
The company came to life in 2016 and has now recycled and transformed over 55 million chopsticks into everything from charcuterie boards to office furniture.
Why ChopValue is at SFU
It is estimated that in Metro Vancouver alone, approximately 100,000 chopsticks are discarded each day. Sustainability is a core program at SFU Food, with zero waste principles driving waste management decision making. ChopValue chopstick collection at SFU will divert landfill waste and help contribute to the local circular economy.
Where to Find ChopValue Bins at SFU
ChopValue bins are in various dining locations across SFU’s Burnaby campus. The chopsticks are collected weekly by ChopValue and sent to a local microfactory for processing. The bin covers themselves are made from previously recycled chopsticks. Find bins in:
- Mackenzie Cafe
- Maggie Benston Centre Food Court
- Student Union Building
How Chopsticks Fight Climate Change
ChopValue ensures that its production process maintains a low contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of collecting chopsticks and shipping them all to a central factory, they operate microfactories in cities across Canada and in the USA, Mexico, United Kingdom, Indonesia and Singapore. These microfactories are operated as franchises, offering meaningful and stable employment opportunities.
ChopValue’s processing also eliminates waste through the manufacturing process. Any waste generated from the manufacturing of their larger products is saved and reused in the production of smaller items like keychains and coasters. Even the sawdust that is generated from sanding their products is collected and reused as wood filler.
All of these practices result in ChopValue being a carbon negative business, meaning that they not only do not emit greenhouse gasses, but their processes prevent these climate change causing gasses from being emitted.
Impact at SFU
SFU Food’s partnership with ChopValue helps advance their climate change fighting business while reducing waste on campus. Over 100,000 chopsticks have already been recycled at SFU. Recycle your chopsticks at any of the conveniently located bins to do your part in reducing waste at SFU!
Written by Teghan Acres
Teghan Acres is a storyteller, freelance writer, and environmental communicator. She works with clients in the sustainability and circular economy sector including the National Zero Waste Council and Simon Fraser University. Teghan also uses her storytelling skills to teach workshops on zero waste and climate action. She holds a Bachelor of Environment from Simon Fraser University.