How China Is Dealing With Its Bizarre Toilet Paper Crisis

Apr 4, 2017

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In case you weren’t aware, China’s currently experiencing a strange toilet paper crisis at some of the country’s most popular attractions. According to the South China Morning Post, they’ve become a “hotbed of toilet paper kleptomania,” the result of local residents, mainly senior citizens, who have been taking reams of toilet paper from public restrooms and using them at home.

In order to stop toilet paper bandits from continuing such acts of thievery, some public restrooms, including those at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, have installed facial recognition technology — high definition cameras that capture facial images and keep users from taking more than 24 inches (60 cm, about two feet) of toilet paper within a nine-minute period. If someone tries to double-dip within the designated amount of time, the toilet paper dispenser stops working.

A man uses one of the facial recognition machines at the Temple of Heaven park in Beijing. Image courtesy of VCG/VCG via Getty Images.
A man uses one of the facial recognition machines at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven. Image courtesy of VCG/VCG via Getty Images.

The program is part of China’s ongoing “toilet revolution,” an initiative aimed at improving the overall state of the country’s bathrooms to international standards, which have been notoriously unpleasant for travelers due to poor sanitation, extreme filth and foul odors. Many older restrooms throughout the country consist of nothing more than a simple row of holes or a communal trench separated by low walls — there’s often no door, toilet paper or soap to be found.

So far, China has poured around $3.6 billion into the project and Li Jinzao, the head of the China National Tourism Administration, recently told the South China Morning Post that toilets at most major tourist attractions around the country have been fixed and the main priority now is to fix bathrooms elsewhere — and, of course, get all these rowdy toilet paper thieves under control.

H/T: Associated Press

Featured image courtesy of VCG/VCG via Getty Images.

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