This UBC PhD student is turning old chopsticks into shelves

You might not want to throw away your disposable chopsticks

September 22, 2016

By Daniela Rodríguez Chevalier / Photo: ChopValue

Last Spring, Felix Böck, a doctoral student in the faculty of forestry at UBC, launched a recycling project called ChopValue, which turns used chopsticks into Home Décor items. With a big interest in turning underutilized resources into new material, Böck knew he had to do something when, almost a year ago, he and his girlfriend ordered sushi and noticed they had a bunch of disposable chopsticks accumulating in a drawer. After three sleepless nights and a lot of thinking, he created his first prototype, and the Vancouver-based recycling campaign was born.

“The biggest challenge was actually the collection program,” he says. “How do I motivate restaurants to collect the chopsticks?” Böck designed bins and created a website to professionally present the idea as a free recycling program and a way of saving money in waste disposal. The first neighbourhood to be part of the project was Kitsilano, with over a dozen restaurants that signed up. UBC, Point Grey and Dunbar have now participating restaurants as well.

As for the home decor items, the first product line consists of chopstick tiles, shelves, coasters and tabletops, and will be launched at IDS West, the Interior Design Show that begins Thursday. Their online kick-starter campaign offers the items at a discounted price for the next 30 days. “We are planning to expand our project to all major neighbourhoods in Metro Vancouver,” says Böck. “We want to help reduce our environmental footprint as a society.” ChopValue has recycled around 650,000 chopsticks so far.

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