Taiwan stores to stop forking out chopsticks
Wed, Jun 11, 2008

TAIPEI - ABOUT 10,000 Taiwan convenience stores will join an environmental push by withholding disposable chopsticks from hordes of customers used to getting them with take-out meals, officials and local media said.

From next Wednesday in Taipei, and by July 1 on the rest of the island, four convenience store chains will give out the wooden single-use chopsticks only on request, the Environmental Protection Administration said on Wednesday.

'Conservation is getting to be mainstream, and it's a direction we've been taking for a while,' said Ms Amy Luan, a publicity specialist for Taiwan's 4,800 7-Eleven stores, owned by President Chain, one of the four involved.

The change, the result of an agreement between the chains and the government, will surprise countless office workers, travellers and others who have been used to grabbing chopsticks with instant noodles or boxed lunches for decades.

Consumers should be motivated to carry reusable chopsticks, said Mr He Shun-chin, waste management director with the EPA.

Taiwan's small restaurants also will be encouraged, with the enticement of saving money, to phase out disposable chopsticks, he said.

The island's push against single-use chopsticks follows conservation pressure elsewhere in Asia.

China banned production of ultra-thin plastic bags in May, for example, and activists in Japan are pushing for a reduction of wooden chopsticks, which are already made from recycled chips. -- REUTERS


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