China’s war on garbage is as digitally savvy as the country itself. Think QR codes attached to trash bags that allow a municipal government to trace exactly where its trash comes from.On July 1, the world’s most populated city (Shanghai) began a compulsory garbage-sorting program. Under the new regulations (in Chinese), households and companies must classify their wastes into four categories and dump them in designated places at certain times. Noncompliance can lead to fines. Companies and properties that don’t comply risk having their credit rating lowered.The strict regime became the talk of the city’s more than 24 million residents, who criticized the program’s inflexibility and confusing waste categorization. Gratefully, China’s tech startups are here to help.For instance, China’s biggest internet companies responded with new search features that help people identify which wastes are “wet” (compostable), “dry,, “toxic,” or “recyclable.” Not even the most environmentally conscious person can get all the answers right. Like, which bin does the newspaper you just used to pick up dog poop belong to? Simply pull up a mini app on WeChat, Baidu or Alipay and enter the keyword. The tech firms will give you the answer and why.A WeChat mini program that lets users learn the category of cashAlipay, Alibaba’s electronics payment affiliate, claims its garbage-sorting mini app added one million users in just three days. The lite app, which is available without download inside the e-wallet with one billion users, has so far indexed more than 4,000 types of rubbish. Its database is still growing, and soon it will save people from typing by using image recognition to classify trash when they snap a photo of it. Alibaba’s answer to Alexa Tmall Genie can already answer (in Chinese) the question “what kind of trash is a wet wipe?” and more.If people are too busy or lazy to hit the collection schedule, well, startups are offering valet trash service at the doorstep. A third-party developer helped Alipay build a recycling mini app (“垃圾分类回收平台”) and is now collecting garbage from 8,000 apartment complexes across 11 cities. To date, two million people have sold recyclable material through its platform.Ele.me, Alibaba’s food delivery arm, added trash pickup to its list of valet services its fleets offer on top of “apologize to the girlfriend” and dog walking.Besides helping households, companies are also building software to make property managers’ lives easier. Some residential complexes in Shanghai began using QR codes to trace the origin of garbage, state-owned media outlet Xinhua reported. Each household is asked to attach a unique QR code to their trash bags, which will be scanned for sources and classification when they arrive at the waste management station.Workers at a waste management station in Shanghai scan codes on trash bags to check their source (Screenshot from Xinhua feature)This way, regulators in the region know exactly which family has produced the trash — although the city’s current garbage regulations do not require real-name tracking — and those who correctly categorized receive a small reward of 0.1 yuan, or 1.45 cents, per day, according to another report (in Chinese) from Xinhua.
According to the recently recovered passenger records from RMS Titanic, the third class passengers who died when the liner sank were dumped back in the freezing waters so that the bodies belonging to the higher classes could be saved. The crew of CS Mackay-Bennett, the ship that recovered the majority of bodies from the cold Atlantic waters, was overwhelmed with the operation and they came up with a tough solution — to bring aboard the bodies of first and second class and cast the poorest passengers back into the ocean.CS MacKay-BennettThe recovery of the bodies lasted from April until May 1912. The criteria for distinguishing the rich from the poor were the clothes they were wearing, and what they had in their pockets. The Mackay-Bennett crew kept records of what they found on each body, and if it belonged to a first or second class passenger, it was embalmed and stored for the journey back.RMS Titanic prepares to leave port, 1912.Although it sounds cruel, the crew on Mackay-Bennett didn’t bring the decision out of carelessness for the passengers, but because of the circumstances of the time. They had a very limited space while embalming materials were also in short supply.Lifeboat B, found adrift by the Mackay-Bennett during its mission to recover the bodies of those who died in the disaster.The crew was forced to prioritize which of the bodies would be brought back to shore, and they did the simple math. There were 334 bodies recovered of which 116 got buried at sea, most of whom were third-class passengers and crew members.Group of survivors of the Titanic disaster aboard the Carpathia after being rescued.The Daily Echo reported that the people who worked in the offices receiving the bodies were just as exhausted and had to close the offices so that they could take a break.All this is evident in the 181 telegrams detailing the correspondence between Mackay-Bennett’s Captain, Frederick Lander, New York, Halifax in Nova Scotia, and the White Star Line employees. A total of 209 bodies were brought ashore in Halifax, where a curling rink was transformed into a temporary morgue. It was the place where the bodies were gathered and identified with great diligence and respect by coroners from across the region.Titanic’s wooden lifeboats in New York Harbor following the disaster.In 1934, White Star Line merged with Cunard Line, and all the documents, including the Titanic passenger records, went into a dumpster.Luckily, an employee recovered them, and they were kept in his family until 1980 when historian Charles Haas purchased them. It took him many years to restore those documents, and now Mr. Haas has released them on his online site, The Titanic Channel.The story of RMS TitanicThere is one message sent from Halifax to the Mackay-Bennett which reads: “Absolutely essential you should bring to port all bodies you can possibly accommodate.”After being lowered into the sea, Boat 13 drifted under the descending Boat 15.The response of the rescue vessel: “A careful record has been made of all papers, money, and valuables found on bodies. Would it not be better to bury all bodies at sea unless specially requested by relatives to preserve them.”Read another story from us: The Titanic survivor no one believed was genuineJust like 9/11, the Titanic catastrophe marked an era, and everyone was touched by it. Regarding the telegrams, Mr. Haas said: “The collection develops in great detail how difficult the process after the sinking was. They candidly show the immense stress everyone involved was under.”