China, which produces 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks every year, must cut down its manufacturing as it puts heavy burden on the country’s national forests, a lawmaker has said.

Bo Guangxin, chairman of state-owned timber firm Jilin Forest Industry, said at a meeting of the annual parliament session on Friday that the mass production of the wooden tableware is a heavy burden on national forests, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

He added that a total of “20 million 20-year-old trees” have to be chopped down each year to make way for the annual production which are enough to fill Tiananmen Square with 360 layers of the single-use utensil.

According to State Forestry Administration in 2009, China’s forest coverage was 20.36 per cent and ranked 139th place in the world. The average per capita forest coverage was 0.145 hectares, less than one-fourth of the world’s average.

China is the world’s largest consumer and importer of wood, and imposed a five per cent tax on disposable chopsticks and wooden floor panels in 2006 in an effort to reduce timber wastage.

“To solve the issue, I think we first need to bring a change to people’s eating habits and urge everyone to carry their own chopsticks around. Secondly, we should gradually introduce a replacement for such chopsticks,” he said.