China is stripping its forests to make 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks a year



China makes enough disposable chopsticks in a year to cover the entirety of Tiananmen Square 360 times. That’s according to Bo Guangxin, chairman of the state-owned timber firm Jilin Forest Industry, who said last week that China makes far more wooden chopsticks for one-time use than was previously estimated—80 billion, not 57 billion.

Exactly where Bo gets his numbers he didn’t say, but it’s not hard to believe the figure is higher than government estimates (the last of which was in 2009), given the thousands of small food venders that evade accounting. But other countries are driving the mass consumption of chopsticks, as well. Japan uses about 25.7 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks a year, an average of about 200 pairs per person, but the country only produces about 3% of that with the rest coming principally from China. China exports about half of its chopsticks to Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

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