Ones to Watch: ChopValue
This duo turn discarded chopsticks into design gold.
ChopValue is the story of waste meeting ingenuity. In 2016, Felix Böck, a PhD candidate in the faculty of forestry at UBC, noticed bamboo chopsticks from takeout orders accumulating in his girlfriend’s kitchen drawer and, using lab facilities at the university, he cleaned, coated and heat-pressed them into hard-wearing coasters, tiles and shelves. Next came a city-wide chopstick recycling program at restaurants, shopping centres and the airport to gather more unwanted and discarded chopsticks (and help businesses cut down on waste-disposal fees), and later, with project manager Santiago Martinez, an architect and designer by training, a division of modernist furniture and interior design services for commercial spaces. By the end of this year, ChopValue will expand to Victoria, L.A. and Montreal. Credit goes to single-use utensils with seemingly endless possibilities. “One of the big learning curves, in terms of the company, has been understanding the full stretch of the material,” says Böck. “It performs so well in so many applications.”