Chronic China digital : your garbage, or take away ?

The third season of the Chronicles, digital China continues. Between personal anecdotes and analysis of the facts of society, Mathieu Fouquet continues his exploration of technological practices chinese definitely foreign.

In 2018, the China made blow a wind of panic in the world : by shutting the door to the importation of almost all of the waste aliens, it deprived many countries (so-called) developed a land home to the mountains of garbage which the dampening.

It must be said that, so far, the system had been comfortable : cargo ships for the chinese, who gave their goods to the four corners of the globe, instead of starting empty, returning with a cargo more odorous than the last. China was retreating the materials she could, and the exporting countries could continue to neglect their own networks of recycling. In short, everyone was on his account.

Until China, there is more to his account.

Of recycling bins. (?) and a Steve Jobs, who would be delighted to know there.

It is the country of Mr Jinping is currently going through a transitional period complex that does absolutely nothing to the importation of garbage. For a start, the need for a conscience rigorous is a sword of Damocles that Beijing can no longer afford to ignore. Type the industrial polluters on the fingers while important of the waste is toxic, it does not return exactly one image very sincere.

An army of electric buses parked in a depot in the city of Changzhou. These buses are multiplying across the territory at a breakneck pace.

Then, there’s the fact that if China has very long relied on the manufacturing industry to generate the bulk of its economic growth, it is clear that the chinese communist Party has aspirations for more diverse for the future of the country. Dare even a parallel fun between China and Apple, because both place great hopes in a category that was not up here their main asset. To prepare the ground after the iPhone, Apple is building on its sacrosaints services. In the context of a long-term growth, the chinese government is betting on the tertiary sector. In other words, the services.

This bet has nothing crazy. After all, the chinese middle class will only grow over the years, as has its needs and its desires. Entire industries — and entirely indigenous — feed of this market, which has not finished growing. Why produce more and more materials and objects when you can sell products and services to a population of appetites unlimited ?

“A few” packages piled up at the side of a point of withdrawal after heavy sales on Taobao. Note that this is much better organized usually.

Which brings us naturally to the last point : this population that is consuming more and more produces more and more waste. Who would have thought ? It is an inevitable consequence of the enrichment of a country, but it is all the more marked in China, where the technology it is particularly easy to use, the remote controls and the use of disposable products. In particular in the field of food.

The effect waimai

The regulars of these chronicles will remember , perhaps, from the waimai, in other words, the dishes ordered online as a delivery man on his electric scooter hastens to bring it to you. To say that this phenomenon is popular in China, it is like explaining that the temperature of the Sun is a little high. Applications such as Meituan and Lga squattent the phone virtually all of the world (at least among the younger generations) and set in a relationship restaurants, delivery drivers, and hungry customers.

But is it any wonder that popularity when such services exploit our worst instincts ? Receive jiaozi without moving from his couch, while it is 40 °C outside, all for the equivalent of two or three euros, it would be foolish to refuse.

Drivers Meituan cut the piece of fat waiting for their next command.

Unless, of course, that the madness does not consist in precisely to depend too much on a system that forces the drivers to face up to any weather and forge ahead on the road at the peril of their lives — and mine. And that does not encourage generally not eating healthy. And use tons of disposable containers. To paraphrase Jurassic Park, this is not because the technology opens for us certain doors that we need to overcome. Or, in any case, the cross without the conduct of prior reflection.

Whether we like it or not, the waimai , however, part of the local landscape. Enter the first fast-food come and you will see drivers dressed in yellow or blue to withdraw orders at the checkout for customers who live a few miles away (or 300 metres, for the less brave). It is also especially salient in the shops of naicha (literally ” tea with milk “).

A few teas with milk and fruit juice. Take away, of course.

The naicha, that other national institution, is the ideal partner of the waimai. Delicious iced in summer or hot in winter, usually accompanied by small balls of tapioca that one sucks with a big straw, it is easy and affordable to deliver at home or at work. These drinks come in a plastic cup that will be in the trash (or in the ocean) before you have even finished you say ” hao he ! “(” delicious ! “).

A user command of the tea from his phone directly in-store.

Paradox or human nature, China is also the country that provides the most tools for not having to take delivery of prepared dishes. The ubiquitous WeChat, for example, you can order on-site at the restaurant without even a call to a server (think : the human interaction !). With Alipay, you can buy eggplants at the little market in the face without a penny in his pocket. Or do you deliver the same eggplant at home since Meituan or Taobao. These are not options that are missing in order to avoid the Big Mac ordered to bed, even if it has some arguments that the eggplant did not.

The empire of the garbage counter-attack

In such circumstances, it is easy to understand why China has ceased to depend on the help of others to pile mountains of garbage. Erect a veritable Himalaya of old cardboard boxes, cups of used and waste plastics of all kinds is no longer a problem for this country, which was formerly too poor to get there. Much to the chagrin of the authorities for which the ecology is now a question of survival. As it should be.

Recently, the people of Shanghai have been shocked to discover the new rules of recycling complex, to the delight of the chinese social networks. It is true that the distinction is sometimes blurred between dry waste and wet provided a solid basis for this meme very chinese.

Dry or not dry ? That is the question.

But beyond the mockery (and sometimes anger) that such measures have already produced, it is difficult not to see in it a promise : the empire of the Middle does not wish to retain the garbage.

Soon after the appearance of the new recycling rules, the company Alibaba already proposed a tool to some of its users : by pointing the camera of his phone on an object, the software shows you its class. Practice not to put your cup of naicha half-empty in the wrong bin and thus avoid a fine.

This is what is wonderful with the technology : it can contribute to clutter up the landfills of the chinese today, the better to ease tomorrow. It will all depend on usage.

You can find all the past columns on MacGeneration and in the form of a digital book for sale on Apple’s Books to 4.99 €. The book Chronicles China digital includes the first two seasons, with two chapters exclusive.