Billions of Discarded Chopsticks to be Turned into Biofuel

It's the wood that makes it goodIt's the wood that makes it good
Disposable chopsticks are ubiquitous in Japan, where they're given out at restaurants, convenience stores and roadside stands. Now Japan's Agriculture Ministry is proposing to make biofuel out of the estimated 90,000 tons of wood wasted each year when disposable chopsticks are discarded.

Just a drop in the bucket...Just a drop in the bucket...
It doesn't seem like much, but multiply the average 200 pairs of disposable chopsticks used annually by a single Japanese by 127 million - the nation's population - and you're looking at a BIG waste of wood. The problem is twice as bad in China where 45 billion pairs of wooden chopsticks are trashed each year!

A stick-y situationA stick-y situation
Disposable chopsticks used in Japan were formerly made from trimmings the forestry industry would otherwise dump, but these days 90 percent of the country's supply comes from China where they're made from Aspen wood or bamboo.

Totally wastedTotally wasted

Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has finally decided to do something about this massive and growing waste of resources and, by doing so, create ethanol fuel that will help reduce Japan's reliance on foreign energy sources. According to ministry official Toyohisa Aoyama, plans are in the works to set up collection boxes for used chopsticks, which would then be taken to a processing plant to be turned into biofuel. No telling if one day car exhaust in Tokyo will waft the pungent aroma of old sushi, however. (via Yahoo! News)

Steve Levenstein
Japanese Innovations Writer

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Aug 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

If they'd give them to the Chinese

the Chinese could re-use them a few times before turning them into fuel.