From a recent CNN Article:
“In a move that has cheered environmentalists but worried restaurant owners, China has slapped a 5 percent tax on the chopsticks over concerns of deforestation. … Chinese chopstick exporters have responded to the tax increase and a rise in other costs by slapping a 30 percent hike on chopstick prices — with a planned additional 20 percent increase pending.”
“Walk into any Japanese noodle shop or restaurant and chances are you’ll be eating with a pair of disposable wooden chopsticks from China.” However, this is not likely to be the case in the near future with a 50% cost increase.
The article states that Japan is responding by switching to bamboo chopsticks and looking for new global supply sources, including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Russia. However, this is not a long-term solution, as these countries will likely follow suit and raise prices if deforestation rates increase or they can raise costs and still be one of the lowest cost sources of supply.
A long term solution is to go green and switch to plastic reusable chopsticks which, also according to the article, can be reused about 130 times. The article notes that current costs for plastic chopsticks on a cost-per use basis are on par with the costs of disposable chopsticks before the tax increase. If we take into account economics and economies of scale, chances are these costs would decrease if production increased, allowing Japanese restaurants to save a considerable amount of cash, in addition to 8 million plus trees a year, by “going green”. It’s a no-lose situation.