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Circular Economy: What To Do With 12 Million Recycled Chopsticks

October 4, 2023

Initiating Asia Pacific’s move to circular furniture, key partnerships can transform waste to resource, one chopstick at a time.

Singapore’s leading innovator of circular materials, ChopValue, is collaborating with Asia’s top commercial real estate firms for multiple sustainable projects involving the recycling of 2.5 million locally sourced disposable chopsticks. These projects have saved over 121,710 kg of CO2 emissions, furthering ChopValue’s mission to revolutionize the furniture industry across Asia using a circular approach. Beyond their local endeavors in Singapore, ChopValue’s global footprint in sustainable innovation is nothing short of remarkable. Since its establishment in 2016, ChopValue has recycled over 124 million chopsticks and saved over 6 million kg of CO2 emissions worldwide – this is equivalent to the gas emissions from approximately 1,385 cars driven for an entire year.

Circular materials are created from discarded objects that are reprocessed for future use. In ChopValue’s case, discarded chopsticks are collected and converted into value-added durable furniture and household goods. This strategy redefines the term “waste” into “resource.”

As the number one sustainably-led city in the Asia-Pacific region and with substantial investments in real estate developments that incorporate green technologies, Singapore is at the forefront of the green real estate industry. ChopValue Singapore is contributing to this sustainability momentum by supplying a range of high-quality circular solutions—from restaurant and office furniture to kitchenware and decorative items. Further, ChopValue is on track to achieve the Singapore Green Building Products (SGBP) certification, a prestigious award reserved for the best sustainable practices in the country.

ChopValue has already formed partnerships with various companies to achieve noteworthy milestones in Singapore:

Marina Bay Sands Singapore: 1,140,375 chopsticks recycled, 55,518 kg of CO2 saved

One of the single largest commercial users of ChopValue’s recycled chopsticks is the iconic Marina Bay Sands. More than one million disposed chopsticks have been crafted into innovative cubed menu displays with embedded QR codes, and specialised tags indicating dietary restrictions and requirements. These cubes are used for events and banquets held at Sands Expo & Convention Centre. The integrated resort also places aesthetically chic wooden plaques, made entirely from recycled chopsticks, in its hotel rooms to inform guests of linen change policies.

“Marina Bay Sands has always remained committed to ensuring sustainability remains at the heart of our experiences and offerings. The partnership with ChopValue has allowed us to embrace sustainability without compromising on the premium experiences we offer to our guests. Giving a new life to disposed chopsticks – through the creation of wooden plaques and menu cubes – is an example of how we can all stretch ourselves to be sustainable and creative at the same time. We hope to continue working with innovative suppliers like ChopValue to showcase locally recycled materials in unique ways,” says Meridith Beaujean, Executive Director of Sustainability, Marina Bay Sands.

The Robertson House by The Crescent Collection (The Ascott Limited): 597,300 chopsticks recycled, 29,079 kg of CO2 saved

The Ascott Limited (Ascott) is a Singapore company that has grown to be one of the leading international lodging owner-operators. One of its brands includes The Crest Collection – a global portfolio of charming bespoke hotels and serviced residences that integrates heritage stories with curated hospitality experiences in Singapore, China, and Vietnam. The current Riverside Hotel Robertson Quay in Singapore will be refurbished and rebranded to The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, which is slated for launch by the end of 2023. Amongst the hotel’s sustainable initiative, they have partnered with ChopValue to include amenities trays in each of their guest rooms.

Norman Cross, General Manager of The Robertson House, said, “As we deliver unique experiences to our guests, we continue to uphold our promise of Ascott CARES (the Group’s sustainability program) with the support of like-minded partners. By forging a strong alliance with ChopValue, we aim not only to elevate guest comfort through functional use and pleasing aesthetic, but also staying true to our commitment with sustainability at the core of the business.”

The Work Boulevard co-working spaces: 475,000 chopsticks recycled, 23,125 kg of CO2 saved

ChopValue has collaborated with a new co-working space, The Work Boulevard in Tanjong Pagar, to construct all hot desks, meeting room tables, a feature wall, and accessories such as phone stands and laptop legs using a total of 475,000 chopsticks.

The Work Boulevard founder Gaurav Joshi commented, “The Work Boulevard was built out of our desire to create a stylish and aspirational co-working space that fosters human connections throughout our community. ChopValue produces beautiful and functional products that are instant conversation starters for our members and guests. The fact that the furniture is made using recycled chopsticks harvested locally in Singapore is simply incredible.”

The environmental impact of repurposing single-use chopsticks is not lost on Justin Lee, General Manager of ChopValue Singapore. He looks to showcase the value of ChopValues’ ambition of redefining waste-to-resource with its Singapore Microfactory. “Did you know that as a nation, we throw away over 1 million disposable chopsticks every day?” asked Justin. “If we can convert all this waste into resources, we can build 60,000 desks that are durable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.”

Capable of processing up to 40 million recycled and urban harvested chopsticks every year, this movement mirrors the World Economic Forum’s report, which states that transitioning towards a circular economy could provide financial opportunities worth USD $ 4.5 trillion. This is all thanks to the elimination of waste, increased production efficiencies, improved business productivity, and increased employment opportunities by 2030 (Below: A graphical representation of the circular economy according to the World Economic Forum).

“Although we’re making progress as a society, it’s a slow journey,” notes Justin. “Many times, we are just trying to replace non-sustainable products with materials that are sustainably produced. That doesn’t reduce the amount of waste, which is what we need to do actually.”

Beyond Singapore

As ChopValue expands its sustainability efforts across the Asia Pacific, the brand is eyeing exciting collaborations in multiple countries throughout the region. Recent projects include a high-level meeting with senior members of the Canadian Government in Jakarta, hosting a grand opening ceremony in Bali, and active participation in the esteemed REThink sustainability real estate conference in Hong Kong. These endeavors mark not only a deep commitment to sustainability, but also signify the brand’s growing global impact in fostering eco-friendly practices and innovation.

ChopValue’s CEO and Founder, Felix Böck, also delivered a speech in Nagano prefecture during the Green Work Hakuba vol.5 circular economy conference in Japan. With over 20 billion chopsticks disposed of in Japan yearly, Felix looks to encourage more individuals across the region to support and adopt more circular, climate-positive solutions.

“Our generation will have the hard job to translate climate anxiety into hope; we can do this by every one of us taking responsibility towards real action,” says Felix.

He continues, “Our solution is to scale circularity responsibly. Chopsticks are currently a vastly underutilised waste resource in cities around the world, so we decided to do something about it. Our ChopValue® Natural MicroFibre Performance Material is a highly densified, solid composite material that can be used to create high-quality, market-appropriate products for a variety of applications.

“Through our method of urban harvesting and decentralized microfactories across more than 75 locations worldwide, we have turned over 124 million chopsticks waste into a valuable resource. But our ultimate goal is not just about reducing waste; it’s about forging a sustainable future for circular furniture and redefining how we think about waste materials. Together, we hope to rewrite the narrative, one chopstick at a time, and usher in a more hopeful and sustainable future for the Asia Pacific and beyond.”

Ed.  Photos provided by ChopValue & Elliot Communications.


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