Biodegradable cutlery maker harvests new partnerships with First Nations
Published Saturday, August 10, 2013 10:50PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 10, 2013 10:58PM EDT
A Canadian company making its mark on the world stage with biodegradable utensils is forging new business partnerships with its own country’s remote First Nations.
Aspenware, a company based out of British Columbia, supplies stores and restaurants with wooden cutlery that turns into compost within three months of being tossed in the trash.
Business is booming, says Terry Bigsby, the man behind the wooden utensils. His factory makes the product and sells it across Canada and Europe.
The forks, spoons and knives are made of poplar trees, which grow and spread rapidly in the Canadian Shield and across Northern Manitoba – near remote First Nations where people are realizing the economic potential all around them.
Bigsby’s main resource – trees that regenerate quickly -- have created steady work and incomes for those who live in those communities.
In Wabauskang First Nation in northwestern Ontario, demand is already starting to pay off -- Business is growing at Doug Riffle’s saw mill due in part to the success of Aspenware.
“The production of poplar will allow us to run full time, all year round and as we grown in production, it will mean more jobs as well,” Riffle told CTV News.
And it could create lasting jobs for generations to come, which is no small feat. Many of Canada’s First Nations are so remote there are few jobs within driving distance. Community members either leave home to seek work or don’t work at all.
According to official stats, the unemployment rate on a reserve hovers around 25 per cent.
Bigsby says the partnership benefits everyone.
“Doing the right thing is never wrong and we believe in doing the right thing,” he said.
The project is expanding. Two more First Nations in this area will begin harvesting wood for Aspenware. The company also sees opportunity for more job creation in Manitoba.
With a report from CTV’s Jill Macyshon