People throw away more than 80 billion pairs of chopsticks every year. Most of them have only been used once, like the cheap wooden ones you get in restaurants. All of those chopsticks end up in landfills. In China, environmental activists have documented rates of over 100 acres of deforestation every day to keep up with demand.
One start-up has decided to tackle this problem by using discarded chopsticks as a construction material. ChopValue, based in Vancouver, Canada, collects about 350,000 used chopstics every week, just from the Vancouver area. They then use the chopsticks to make things for the home and office, like bookshelves, cutting boards, coasters, and even desks. Founder Felix Böck explains,
“In Vancouver alone, we’re throwing out 100,000 chopsticks a day. They’re traveling 6,000 or 7,000 miles from where they’re manufactured in Asia to end up on our lunch table for 30 minutes.”
Böck launched ChopValue in 2016. As of June 2022, he estimated that they had saved over 66 million chopsticks from landfills. More companies, like the chain restaurant Thai Express, are signing on to their project, increasing the number of chopsticks they can recycle.