Beijing park goes high-tech to curb overuse of toilet paper

Written by Kamil Arli

The Mashable reported that if you need to toilet paper at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, you’ll need to scan your face first.


That’s because people have been taking so much toilet paper that the UNESCO World Heritage Site operators decided enough was enough, and installed facial recognition dispensers at its toilets, local reports said.


The machine in action.

The machine in action.


Take off your sunglasses

Users are required to take off any sunglasses or hats too, to get their feed of about 60cm (23 in.) of toilet paper.

In the short time it’s been up, the system has already cut down usage to a fraction, temple staff said. According to the Beijing Evening News, each washroom average four rolls of toilet paper, compared to 20 rolls before.

But some have reported that the facial recognition process — which is supposed to take three seconds — can take up to a few minutes, and that it has not been reliable.

Some Weibo users have also responded with incredulity.

“To be honest, 60cm is a bit too little,” said a user.



TheThiefGuanYuPlays6: “What, so do these people bring the toilet paper home to make mummies for their whole family?”



“It seems the uses of facial recognition software are pretty diverse,” said Wangtuntun.



LuLusFishFood: “Being civilised isn’t just something you talk about — you need to act. Some people clearly have the money to buy toilet paper, but they have to take paper from public toilets. Is your face worth that money?”



BeiErLovesBooks: “Of course people will get more toilet paper, because they’re too thin! What if your passwords are all stolen because you got yourself some toilet paper?”

Mainly senior citizens stashing toilet paper into their bags

Toilet paper thieving has been a problem at the Temple of Heaven. In early March, the Beijing Evening News published photos from hidden cameras, which showed people — mainly senior citizens — visiting all seven toilets in the Temple of Heaven and stashing toilet paper into their bags.

The average use time of a roll of TP at the Temple of Heaven was a mere 14 minutes in 2013, according to the Beijing Youth Daily. 

The system is still in its trial period, say temple management. The trial — which will last about two weeks — is being monitored by various smaller parks in the city, but there are no plans to bring the facial recognition machines to other parks.

About the author


Kamil Arli

Editor of Digital Media Consultant

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