Vancouver startup gives waste chopsticks a second life


In Vancouver, an entrepreneur has transformed over 30 million wood chopsticks from restaurants into everyday items such as dining room tables and staircases. 

The idea for ChopValue actually came from Felix Böck’s girlfriend—now fiancée—after the PhD student expressed frustration during a sushi dinner that there was little interest in his proposal for repurposing waste wood from demolition. She suggested he start with something smaller, like the chopstick she held in her hand. 

Soon, the startup had bins at restaurants across the province to collect bamboo and wooden chopsticks. “These chopsticks travel 6,000 miles to arrive on your dining table for 20 to 30 minutes,” Böck tells The Guardian. “You can’t possibly feel good about throwing them out afterwards.”

Four years later, the company has used 32 million chopsticks—estimating it currently collects 350,000 a week in Vancouver alone—and employs 40 people.  Products such as butcher’s blocks and desks are sold through the company’s website and retail partners.  “There’s this cheesy saying that every small action matters,” Böck adds. “But I think we’re proving that in a fairly practical and exciting way.”