400,000 tonnes of wood ends up in landfills each year in the metropolitan area of British Columbia, and Felix Böck decided he would do something about it.
The idea for ChopValue came to him over a sushi dinner with his partner, and as he was sharing his frustration over the amount of waste generated each year and that no one is doing anything about it, he looked at the chopsticks in his hands and had his ‘aha’ moment.
With that, Felix channeled his frustration into motivation, and chose to focus on recycling chopsticks, to “show everyone the feasibility and viability of working with under-utilized resources - on any level for a viable model.”
Starting with an educated guess, Felix estimated the daily amount of chopsticks being thrown out in Metro Vancouver to be approximately 100,000, and invested two hundred dollars into cardboard bins to launch his chopsticks collection program. Felix’s background in wood engineering and research on bamboo composite materials helped to accelerate the development for a market ready product.
It turned out that the community was waiting for something like this. From restaurants to end users, people welcomed the initiative, as ChopValue extends the life value of an everyday product that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill. ChopValue now creates furnishings and home objects that can be found in homes, restaurants and beyond.
“Kitsilano was our test area and the response partnering up with restaurants was great. From there, our chopstick collection program has only been growing as well as the projects, partners and the team.” Felix shares, “fortunately, the local and international response was huge since day one. Our story has been covered by many publications including Al Jazeraa, Huffpost, CBC, Vancouver Sun and Lonely Planet. We believe all the interest is because the story resonates with a huge audience. Who hasn’t eaten sushi, used chopsticks and felt bad at least once throwing them out one by one after a thirty-minute use?”
The press coverage and relevant brand story has also helped to encourage adoption of ChopValue’s products and services. While most people would align with and encourage sustainable living concepts, it’s tough to get users past the inertia threshold, ChopValue has used its brand story to help users get past the hurdle.
“I feel like ChopValue is a really attention-grabbing concept. The story resonates with people so we believe we have a responsibility to inspire, set an example and educate that our resource efficiency thinking should simply be the norm. We developed our product and project pricing within market standards in order to make our products accessible - especially the ones, like our restaurant partners, who recycle chopsticks with us.”
The team is seeing the movement take shape and gain momentum, as team members celebrate the small wins, counting the number of chopsticks they collect each week and the number of engagements on social media. The team also keeps the bigger picture in mind, which is reducing carbon waste and raising awareness of unique ways to reduce environmental impact.
When asked where he hopes to see ChopValue in the next five years, Felix shares his international ambition.
“Seeing ChopValue excite so many people and building the business as a viable model with traction and established partnerships, we believe our micro-factory concept can be taken to every city in the world. From collection and design, to production and sales, ChopValue will be expanding to more than 100 locations over the next few years and hope to set an example in many other sushi, ramen and Chinese cuisine loving cities who use as many chopsticks as we do.”
We look forward to the adoption of this concept across the world, as it has proven to add value for every party involved. Good luck to Felix and team!