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Waribashi to be replaced with eco-friendly chopsticks at 2,500 Skylark restaurants

6, 25. 2008

   The family-restaurant operator Skylark Co. will stop using the disposable waribashi chopsticks at about 2,500 restaurants across Japan and replace them with "eco-friendly chopsticks" made of resin by July 2008. Matsuya Foods Co., another restaurant chain operator, has almost completed its changing of disposable to non-disposable chopsticks at its all restaurants across the country. The use of "eco-friendly chopsticks" is likely to expand in the food service industry.

   Among the restaurants operated by Skylark, chopsticks were changed from the disposable to non-disposable chopsticks within 2006 at "Jonathan" restaurants, within 2007 at "Skylark" restaurants and by May 2008 at "Gusto" restaurants. Preparations are being made to complete such change by June at "Muan" restaurants and by July at "Bamyan restaurants.

"You've done well" say customers

Website for exchange of information on “my chopsticks”
Website for exchange of information on “my chopsticks”

   It is said a total of 25 billion pairs of the disposable chopsticks are consumed daily in Japan. Some 250 million pairs, or 1% of the total, are used at the Skylark restaurants, according to a person in charge of the public relations at the company. The disposable chopsticks at the restaurants are replaced with the two types of non-disposable chopsticks - one made of PBT polybutylene terephthalate) resin and the other one made of PS (polystyrene) resin. An average of 200 or 350 pairs of such chopsticks are expected to be used at each of the Skylark restaurants. By the change, the total garbage disposal by the restaurants operated by Skylark Co. is expected to be reduced by up to 650 tons per year.

   In the meantime, Matsuya Foods, which operate the "Matsuya" restaurant chain that serve Japanese-style food, replaced the disposable chopsticks with chopsticks made of resin between January and May 2008. There are 721 restaurants in the chain throughout the country, and the change is almost complete. The chain serves 350,000 customers per day, and the disposable chopsticks thrown away after use at the Matsuya restaurants amounted to 558 tons per year.

   A person in charge of the public relations at Matsuya Food said the company was the first in the food service industry to replace the disposable chopsticks with ordinary chopsticks and that the company was worried at first that the change might give the customers a bad impression. But, actually many of the visitors to the restaurants praised the change by saying "you've done well," he said.

   At the Matsuya restaurants, the chopsticks and dishes were washed after use in three stages - by hands at first, by washing machine and then disinfection in the final stage. J-CAST News asked if the electricity and water cost increased after changing to chopsticks made of resin. The company's reply was that "not so much." But the company said it could not be denied the work for the employees increased.

Some restaurants start offering price cuts for those bring in their own chopsticks

   It is getting popular among eco-warriors to bring chopsticks of their own, "my chopsticks," with them to restaurants. Such chopsticks of their preference are carried in cases, and they are sold at some shops at prices ranging from several hundred yen to 3,000 yen per pair. Specially made ones are also available at prices higher than 10,000 yen for a pair. There is a website on the internet, named "my chopsticks club," for the enthusiasts of "my chopsticks" to exchange information. A total of 1,578 persons had obtained the membership of the website as of June11, 2008.

   Some restaurants have started to offer discount prices to customers who bring in their own "my chopsticks" with them.

   At the Carretta Shiodome commercial area in Minato Ward, Tokyo, four shops are conducting a "Shiodome eco-toku" campaign during the environmental protection month of June to offer discount prices for food and drinks for customers who bring "my chopsticks" and "my cups" with them.

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