A partnership between Japan's tableware manufacturer Sanshin Kako KK and Sabic Innovative Plastics LP is taking the first steps toward eliminating a kind of consumer waste unique to Asia disposable chopsticks.
While there are alternatives to the flimsy wooden utensils handed out at restaurants across Asia, Sabic and Hiroshima-based Sanshin Kako are distributing a product that is reusable and made of recycled plastic. The utensils are made of Valox iQ, a polybutylene terephthalate resin made, in-part, from post-consumer PET.
``The use of Valox iQ resin for Sanshin Kako's new line of chopsticks helped them achieve two environmental goals: the development of a product that is both reusable and made from upcycling post-consumer plastic bottles,'' said Takashi Hata, president Sabic Innovative Plastics, Japan, in a statement.
The material, Valox iQ 420 HP resin, is made up of around 87 percent post-consumer PET bottles.
``Sabic Innovative Plastics developed the iQ resin platform as part of our sustainability program focused on environmentally responsible solutions,'' Hata said.
The material can hold molded-in color and can be washed in automatic dishwashers. In addition, Pittsfield-based Sabic IP said the material, when compared with other engineering thermoplastics on the market, provides a carbon dioxide reduction of around 50 percent.
Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has been pushing to find solutions to the country's chopstick waste. More than 68.5 million chopsticks are used and discarded in Japan daily, making up 600,000 pounds of waste. During the course of a year, the average Japanese person discards 200 pairs of chopsticks.
The Valox iQ material has been approved by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and also meets requirements in Europe to be used in food contact applications.
Sabic expects approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the next few months.