China’s surging demand for disposable chopsticks is taking an increasing toll on the country’s forests, reports Chinese state media.
According to Bai Guangxin, chairman of Jilin Forestry Industry Group, China produces 80 billion disposable chopsticks per year, up sharply from the 57 billion estimated by the state forestry administration in 2010. Bai told Xinhua that 20 million trees are felled annually to meet demand. He didn’t specify the origin of the trees, but domestic sources would mostly come from forest plantations since the country banned natural forest logging after devastating floods in 1998.
Bai said that chopstick demand risks undermining the country’s reforestation and afforestation targets. Accordingly, he recommended that people carry their own chopsticks when they dine out at restaurants.
Previous efforts to stem the use of disposable chopsticks — including a use tax in 2006 and a threat of increased government regulation in 2010 — have apparently failed.