There Is No Chopping Out Chopsticks

Photo by Filippo Faruffini on Unsplash

With over 1.4 billion people living in China, and many of them regularly using chopsticks, it is no wonder that China ends up going through 45 billion pairs of wooden/disposable chopsticks every year.

To put that into perspective. To create 45 billion pairs of wooden chopsticks a year requires a whopping 25 million tree’s cut down for the wood.

This sort of massive lumber operation was clearly an unsustainable and environmental problem that was only growing every year.
So, from 2006, the Chinese government began taxing disposable chopsticks with a 5% tax to help pay for new re-forestation schemes and encourage fewer trees to be chopped down.

This didn’t go well with the population who felt being punished for a 5,000 tradition was unfair. It also hurt chopstick manufacturers who saw demand slowly dropping in favour of reusable chopsticks.

So what did the manufacturers do? The offset the tax by slapping massive 30% export taxes on their overseas customers, namely Japan.

Japan goes through 25 billion pairs of chopsticks per year, which is around 200 pairs per person. Unfortunately due to the size of their country, they cannot hope to produce anywhere near enough lumber to manufacture this many, and so they import 97% of their chopsticks from China.

If any country were to produce a sustainable, easily produced chopstick in vast quantities, there are two countries that go through a combined total of 70 billion of them and they are getting more expensive to the consumer, and to the environment, as the years go by.

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