Photo from Shanghaiist Flickr Pool by Je.T.
There’s hope for the 16-25 million trees China fells to produce the 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks used across the country each year. Shaanxi has become the first province to ban disposable chopsticks and the new regulations kick in Dec 1. That’s just another three days from now.
The new rules introduced by the provincial authorities are meant to restrict the over-packaging of products and the use of disposable items by restaurants and hotels. According to the People’s Daily, restrictions on disposable chopsticks are the harshest among the new rules. Restaurants may be fined between 500-2000 yuan while sole proprietors may be fined from 50-200 yuan.
Locals appear doubtful as to how the government would enforce the new measures. One Xi’an resident told the paper, “It’s just a slogan. I’m sure they would not be able to execute the new rules. At least the small food businesses would not be able to stick to them, especially the delivery services. How are they going to deliver food if they can’t even bring along chopsticks?” The same resident says most of his friends around him had not even heard about the new rules.
If the Shaanxi government is serious about cutting down the use of disposable chopsticks, then enforcement challenges will be the least of their worries. In 2008, China staged a relatively successful nationwide (and almost overnight) ban on free plastic bags. If they were able to pull it off then, we have no doubt they’ll be able to do it again this time.
That said, didn’t anyone in Shaanxi think it would be a good idea to spend some time selling the idea to the general public before kicking in with the new rules? OK, we get it that it’s not in their DNA here, but surely it’d be a nice thing to do?