A new hero has emerged in China’s fight against food waste in the form of a WeChat Mini Program that recognizes empty plates and rewards users with points. These points can then be redeemed for gifts like books and wine, or better yet, they can be used to provide meals for impoverished children in rural areas of China.
The app is called 光盘打卡 or ‘Clean Plate Clock-In’ and has nearly a million users, according to China Daily. Liu Jichen, the founder of the technology startup that built the app, originally had the idea in 2017 when he dined at a restaurant that rewarded guests who cleared their plates.
“We hope our efforts can start a new trend among the younger generation, encouraging them to carry out the virtue of cherishing food and developing the habit of thrift,” Liu said, as cited by China Daily.
Over the course of half a year, Liu and his team compiled 100,000 pictures of empty plates from canteens and restaurants around China to train the digital brain.
Screengrabs via 光盘大卡
The timing is perfect as a nationwide campaign to tackle wasteful eating habits is gaining momentum. President Xi Jinping recently reinvigorated the fight against food waste in a speech about China’s food security. Food waste is a problem all around the world ,but recent flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic have emphasized the need to improve food security in China.
The app has been well received and a growing number of restaurants and institutions have approached the startup to cooperate. In addition to clean plates, the app also recognizes empty takeout containers and is very easy to use.
Check out the video below to see how the app works (VPN off):
Most notably, the startup offers a range of charities that users can choose from if they want to double down on their good deeds.
The first option is to donate a breakfast or lunch to Addis Ababa public school through the Lingshan Charity Foundation’s children’s program in Ethiopia.
Users can also donate their hard earned ‘eating’ points to support the Yuhua Charity Action Fund, which operates more than 700 volunteer-run free vegetarian restaurants around China, as reported by People’s Daily.
Another option is to support the Free Lunch for Children program that operates in more than 1,200 schools in poor areas around the country.
Screengrab via 光盘打卡
The hashtag ‘Operation Clean Plate’ (#光盘行动#) started by the Chinese Communist Youth League has gained more than 630 million views on Weibo. A similar hashtag ‘Big Clean Plate Challenge’ (#光盘挑战大赛#) initiated by People’s Daily has a further 360 million views.
The social media campaign aims to promote awareness about food waste and how to be more conscientious. Chinese netizens have been using the hashtag to share pictures of their own empty plates as a way to participate in the movement.
To access the Mini Program, search ‘光盘打卡’ on WeChat.
[Cover image via Pexels]