Around 100,000 chopsticks are discarded in Vancouver, British Columbia every day, and that fact has led to a unique line of recycled products.
Vancouver startup Chopvalue turns post-consumer chopsticks into home decor and furniture items. Chopvalue’s use of recycled content in its products is particularly ambitious, since it first had to establish a collection system to backhaul the materials for processing.
“As the majority of the disposable chopsticks are made of bamboo, we see the material quality of these one-time use utensils and the value of the resource material,” a company spokesperson told Resource Recycling. “Not only will the resource potential be wasted if the chopsticks end up in the landfill/composting facilities, but environmental issues can arise during the decomposition of the chopsticks, so it is important for us to help create an understanding of the potentials problems and solutions.”
The company began providing free recycling bins for local restaurants to collect discarded chopsticks. The company collects the bins at no charge on a schedule, and takes them to a processing site. There, using a process Chopvalue developed, the chopsticks are cleaned, coated in a resin and pressed into a compact material.
The resin that coats the chopsticks is water-based and food safe, and is also used in the automotive industry, according to the company. It cures under high temperature and pressure.
The dense pressed chopstick material is used to make tiles, coasters, tabletops, yoga blocks and more. A tile contains more than 200 chopsticks, while the company has made a custom table containing up to 10,000 chopsticks.
Each week, the company recycles up to 300,000 chopsticks in manufacturing its products.
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