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[As Seen on Cambridge Day] Bon Me’s Next Locations Get Chopsticks Furniture Recycled From The Gear Used At Its Own Restaurants

[As Seen on Cambridge Day] Bon Me’s Next Locations Get Chopsticks Furniture Recycled From The Gear Used At Its Own Restaurants
ChopValue woodworker Rain Drucker, left, and production lead Matthew Wenger at the scene of a Bon Me furniture installation in Cambridge’s North Point. (Photo: ChopValue)

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When Bon Me, a Vietnamese-inspired chain, opens its Cambridge Crossing store in early May in the North Point neighborhood, its tables and countertops will be made from recycled chopsticks thanks to its partnership with ChopValue, a company that takes chopsticks out of the waste stream and recycles them into wood furnishings.

ChopValue, which makes furniture for restaurants, offices and homes, collects chopsticks from recycling centers installed in restaurants and uses a heated hydraulic press to densify the chopsticks into a woody material used to make furniture. The company has recycled and transformed more than 150 million chopsticks since it launched in Vancouver seven years ago.

Elaine Chow, who previously worked in nonprofit management and HR, bought a ChopValue franchise for Boston two years ago.

“We started the recycling operation about six months before we went into production, so we’ve been recycling for two years and in production for about a year and a half,” Chow said. “Bon Me was one of our first group of folks that said yes to recycling their chopsticks.”

Bon Me co-owner Ali Fong was interested in adding recycling boxes to the restaurants because she felt it fit with Bon Me’s commitment to sustainability, and now “most” of the eight locations have boxes for recycling used chopsticks.

When she decided to open a Bon Me at 219 Jacobs St. it was a natural decision to furnish it with ChopValue’s products. “When I was looking at the furniture in the restaurants, we already had stuff that looked like it could’ve been made from chopsticks – but was actually made of bamboo,” Fong said.

Some 66,000 chopsticks recycled from Bon Me locations and other area restaurants went into the furnishings for the Cambridge Crossing store. The 1,578-square-foot location will be open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, serving the namesake bánh mì sandwiches, plus rice bowls, noodle soups and the like.

Another Bon Me location is set to open this summer in Kendall Square at 600 Technology Square, replacing the first bricks-and-mortar location at One Kendall Square, which will close when the Tech Square store opens. In addition to having ChopValue countertops and tabletops, it will have a full waste station made of chopstick material.

“They’re going to be the first restaurant in all of Boston to have the chopstick recycling bin incorporated into the built-in waste station,” Chow said.

 

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