If you can build it out of wood, you can build it out of chopsticks. That's the message from a local business owner who is giving a second life to your used utensils.
In our Nevada Built, Kelsey McFarland introduces you to ChopValue and how they're working to make Las Vegas more environmentally friendly.
Inside ChopValue, there are 17 tons of used chopsticks waiting to be transformed into furniture.
"So these chopsticks come from our 130 restaurant partners all around town. We partner up with Asian restaurants and set up recycling bins. Once or twice a week we'll go around, we pick up these chopsticks, we drop them off here and this is where the process begins," says Brooks Smith, owner and president of ChopValue Las Vegas.
It's a franchise that started in Vancouver before Smith brought it to Southern Nevada in August 2022.
"Just trying to do my part and have a business that I feel good about," Smith said.
Instead of heading to the landfill, these chopsticks will undergo a long process to eventually become coasters, cheese boards, tables and much more.
"As soon as we bring in the chopsticks, we go over to the shake table right here. What they do is, they sort out the chopsticks and organize them. Gets all the trash and garbage out," Smith said.
After they're sorted, the sticks are dipped in a resin bath.
"What this does is, it's our binding agent," Smith explained.
Then they need to dry, baking for 8 to 12 hours, "so they're nice and crispy," Smith said.
From there, the chopsticks are hot-pressed together to form bricks.
"After we do the pressing cycle and the bricks have time to cool off, we throw them into remanufacturing over here. This is where we make any of our products, from our cutting boards all the way to our coasters," Smith said.
ChopValue creates 30 different products and custom builds big or small — and they ship to states across the western U.S.
Now that the company has planted roots in Las Vegas, Smith hopes to grow and save even more trees by working with Strip properties and construction companies for sustainable building materials.
"I always wanted to do something good for my city and bring something back. Did some traveling, and I wanted to bring a little bit of what I traveled back to here — shine a little bit of light on the city," Smith said.
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