Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles People throw out 100,000 chopsticks every day here in Vancouver. But now, this local company is upcycling them into shelves, cutting boards, and furniture. Can it help reduce the massive amount of single-use items in restaurants around the world? We visited ChopValue's headquarters in Canada to find out. ChopValue drivers pick up used chopsticks from over 300 restaurants around Vancouver a couple times a week. Typically about 100 kilograms a day, up to 150. Pre-COVID, it was more closer to like, 300 kilograms a day. The restaurants part with them for free. After they got in, I believe all 5,000 pairs being recycled and reused. So, it's a great thing. The real work begins at ChopValue HQ. The founder, Felix Böck, calls this place a micro-factory. Just like a microbrewery, curious visitors can come in and see how small batches of tiles get made. And this is how the process looks like from raw material to end product. First, they sort the chopsticks on the custom-built shaker table. These neat stacks are easier to work with. Then they dip the sticks into a water-based resin. That provides a protective coating before they roast in a massive oven for five hours. The 200-degree heat kills all the germs. It smells like a bakery. They need to get separated again so they can be spread out evenly for the next step. You can take your frustration out on the day inside here. They're weighed precisely. This batch will make ChopValue's thinnest tile. So about 560 grams. Then comes the big squeeze. A hydraulic machine, also invented by Böck's team, compresses the chopsticks with hundreds of pounds of pressure. The heart of the process that densifies like a cake, a mat of chopsticks, into a new, uniform, engineered material. Which is the base modular tile used for all of our end products. The tiles can be sanded and assembled into furniture, and also cut into smaller products like coasters, or even domino pieces. This desk sells for just under $1,000. That's about three times what you'd pay at Ikea, but comparable to the price of a desk made from solid wood. This piece is made from about 10,000 chopsticks. ChopValue also takes custom orders. We could do large countertops, or boardroom tables, or pretty much anything like that. Since 2016, the company has upcycled 33 million chopsticks that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill. But in China, people use that many wood utensils in one lunch break. There, people throw out 130 million pairs every single day. That means leveling entire forests for a product most people use for just one meal. It's not just Asia. Consumers around the world contribute to this problem. We all have this drawer filled with plastic cutlery, chopsticks, condiments that we never asked for. Inexpensive, they're cheap, they just come in without you even asking for them. Sheila Morovati is the woman behind the Cut Out Cutlery campaign. Her organization pressured major delivery apps to opt out of sending cutlery by default. She estimates that saved well over 200 million utensils from going to landfill. Good job, Sheila. Activists in China tried a similar strategy. In 2017, they sued their country's biggest food delivery apps, trying to force them to stop giving cutlery by default. There was a public outcry at the time, but since the pandemic, food delivery with single-use items is higher than ever. So we may never eliminate disposables completely. That's why Sheila says upcycling is so important. If there are opportunities like that to use something that was going in the trash or headed to landfill, why not? We have so much trash right now, and it's just, we're at the limit. The planet can't take it anymore. When ChopValue first started, it was only making coasters. Now it has franchises in three cities in North America, with more expected later this year. Coasters are still the No. 1 selling item, but the collection has grown to more than 30 products. And Felix Böck hopes his invention will show people that the next big idea for reducing waste could be right at our fingertips. You put a few tiles and a few hexagon shelves on your wall, and you can point your friends to your wall and say, "Hey, guess what? I have 1,800 chopsticks on my wall." And you start a conversation about sustainability or about recycling.