“Most people would look at an old pair of chopsticks and see nothing but trash. At a push, maybe something their kid could use in a school art project. Felix Böck saw desks, tables, chopping blocks, even dominos – and the basis of a thriving business that shows the circular economy in action.
Since 2016, Böck’s company ChopValue has been taking used bamboo chopsticks from restaurants in Canada and the US, and transforming them into attractive wooden tiles which are used in a range of furniture and homewares. A simple idea, born from a passionate aversion to waste.
‘These chopsticks travel 6,000 miles to arrive on your dining table for 20 to 30 minutes,’ Böck told the Guardian. ‘You can’t possibly feel good about throwing them out afterwards.’
Giving trash a new life
Böck, who has a background in wood engineering in Germany, was studying for a PhD in structural bamboo composites in Vancouver when inspiration struck as he was eating his favourite meal – sushi.
‘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,’ he explained in an interview with Forbes. ‘I had been trying to implement a regional program to tackle urban wood waste, but it fell on deaf ears – so I thought the humble little chopstick was a more relatable resource to show how you can build viable business opportunities from resource efficiency.’
Böck developed a way of cleaning the used chopsticks, and using heat, steam and pressure to turn them into versatile blocks. He began partnering with local restaurants, which quickly overcame any scepticism and appreciated the value in turning their trash into something useful.
‘When you walk into a restaurant and you ask them to place a recycling bin for chopsticks, they still give you the exact same look as they gave me on day one,’ Böck told the Guardian. ‘I think it’s because it’s one of these little things that we neglect. But the moment someone reminds us of that problem that’s right in front of us, it creates that immediate “aha!” moment.’
View the whole story here: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/01/recycle-chopsticks-furniture-circular-economy/