China’s struggle with waste is becoming as digitally operated as so many other areas of the country. On the 1st of the month, the most populated city in the world, Shanghai, became part of a mandatory waste management program. With new regulations in place, both the residential and the corporate communities will need to categorize their garbage into four separate classifications and dump them in specifically allocated places at particular times. Companies and households that refuse to meet the new standards could receive fines or have their credit ratings lowered.
The stern procedure became a hot topic in Shanghai, home to more than 24 million people who questioned the strictness and puzzling nature of the waste classification process. This is where China’s tech startups come in handy.
Tech to the rescue
China’s largest internet firms have created new search attributes that assist people with the identification of which waste products are compostable (“wet”), “dry”, “toxic”, or “recyclable”. Accessing a mini app on platforms such as WeChat or Alipay and entering a keyword can answer the questions of the perplexed inhabitants.
Alipay says that their waste sorting mini app gained an additional one million users in less than three days. Currently the app has indexed over 4,000 kinds of garbage, and its database is still expanding. Also, the plan is to make typing obsolete by utilizing image recognition software to categorize garbage when users simply take a picture of it.
Some of the population are bound to be too lazy or too busy to stick to the collection schedule, but startups have thought of that as well by providing doorstep valet trash services. A third-party developer aided Alipay with the creation of a recycling mini app that allows users to have their garbage collected directly from their home. So far, 8,000 apartment complexes throughout 11 cities are making use of this service.