Jul 18, 2019 (China Knowledge) - China's heavy reliance on phone technology and apps to make its citizens' lives easier has reached a new level with the recent introduction of trash sorting apps.
New rules implemented in Shanghai on July 1st have caused many complaints among China's second largest city's citizens. Those who are unable to understand the new policies receive hefty fines, and can lose social credit points. Their difficulties are well founded, as waste must now be sorted into four different categories: biodegradable, dry, toxic, and recyclable. However, some of China's biggest companies have answered their pleas for help.
Alipay, a subsidiary of the financial giant Alibaba has announced an artificial intelligence and augmented reality mini program that will allow users to scan waste items to figure out which category the trash belongs to. This app will be available not only in Shanghai but in other parts of China as well to help users recycle. In beta testing, it attracted more than 3 million people. In addition to their trash sorting app in the works, Alipay has already released a mini program that lets users sell recyclable waste from their home across 16 Chinese cities.
Tencent has also been on the scene, developing its own mini program called Master of Trash Sorting. As the owners of WeChat, the platform that these mini programs run off of, they have had a significant impact on educating citizens, with instructions available on how to dispose of waste in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Guangzhou.
JD.com, not to be outdone by its rival Alibaba, has also created a smart speaker that allows business to properly sort trash using AI image recognition technology. Users can ask questions like “What kind of garbage is this?” or “How do I recycle this item?”
China is the largest producer of trash behind the U.S., and has been long overdue for reform. Shanghai, as the second largest city in China, has taken the initiative, and hopes to emulate similar success found from policies in Japan and Taiwan.
Although Shanghai was the first to start reform, Beijing has been the city to come up with new enforcements of the recycling rules. Trash bins with facial recognition software can tag citizens and reward or punish those who sort correctly or incorrectly, respectively. These new trash bins have been implemented in residential areas to try and spur better recycling habits.
China's trash issue may not exist for much longer if citizens band together to help out. Although in order to find success on a mass scale, China may have to look to neighboring Japan, where they have implemented many additionally technologies in addition to phone apps such as more efficient waste transport, automatic incineration, and new landfill technology that can stabilize water in a shorter period of time.
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