I've gotta be honest here: I knew that chopsticks were popular in Japan, but I had no idea to what extent they are consumed. Really, really, quickly. Our friendly neighborhood sister site, Gadling, sent us a tip
which includes this piece of trivia: The Japanese people use 90,000 tons (81,646,000 kilograms) or approximately two-hundred pairs per person per year. From the article, I glean that after chopsticks are used a single time, they are discarded. So, what to do with all of these used chopsticks? Why not use them for biofuel
? Since Japan is already in the habit of separating their burnable refuse and non-burnable refuse, they could pretty easily implement a system to collect the used chopsticks and turn them into a fuel source. According to Gadling, "Private contractors will then transport these boxes to special facilities where the chopsticks will be ground up and compressed into wooden pellets, which can be used as a high-energy fuel."
Wooden pellets are a possibility, as well as a cellulosic biofuel, should any plants actually be built using that method of biofuel production. While it may seem to make more sense to carry around reusable chopsticks, using them as fuel after being discarded is better than seeing them end up burned away with nothing to show for it.