Demand for chopsticks killing trees, Chinese lawmaker warns

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese legislator who heads a forestry company has urged the country to save more trees by reducing the 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks it makes each year.

"We must change our consumption habits and encourage people to carry their own tableware," MR Bo Guangxin, chairman of Jilin Forestry Industry Group, was quoted as telling fellow delegates at the country's annual Parliament session on Friday.

China's chopstick production amounted to 20 million 20-year-old trees, enough to fill Tiananmen Square with 360 layers of the single-use utensil, the Xinhua state news agency cited him as saying.

China is the world's largest consumer and importer of wood, and imposed a 5 per cent tax on disposable chopsticks and wooden floor panels in 2006 in an effort to reduce timber wastage. The country's demand for foreign wood had tripled since 2000 to reach 180 million cubic metres in 2011, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said in a report last year.

The campaign group said the growing appetite for timber - with at least one-tenth of supplies coming from illegal sources - meant that "the fate of much of the world's natural forests is in China's hands".