Gender politics is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when discussing waste management, however a recent decision made in Shanghai, China has just changed the narrative.

To coincide with World Toilet Day (yes that is an actual event) unisex toilets will be unveiled in Shangai on the 19th of November. Ten stalls will be installed in Pudong New Area at the intersection of Zhangjiabang Road and Pudong Road which is a popular area for both joggers and walkers. The new toilets will boast both attendants and higher partitions between stalls helping to ensure user safety and privacy. They will also be far more spacious than standard public toilets, and the new facilities will also include some urinals (in a separate room) as well as a private stall for with disabled access.

For the time being, these will be the only unisex toilets as Chinese authorities are unsure as to how citizens will react to the changes. The local authority will be accepting feedback from local residents and if all goes to plan hopes to have 105 unisex toilets by June 2017. It is meant to solve the current inequality that sees women having to wait far longer than men for toilets.

The introduction of these toilets on World Toilet Day is no coincidence.  Not only does it act as some pretty powerful PR, but World Toilet Day has traditionally been used as a vehicle by feminists as well as LGBT activists to highlight toilet inequality. In fact, in 2012 a female University students in Guangzhou launched an “occupy men’s toilets” movements due to frustration at long lines and a lack of stalls. In 2014, a group of 23 activists petitioned the government to mandate 3 women’s toilet for every two men’s toilets. Due to this pressure gender neutral toilets have been popping up all over China including Shenyang city, Chongqing Municipality and Qingdao city. And in June a number of bars in Beijing installed “all-gender toilets.” Meanwhile the China National Tourism Administration asked tourist sites to allocate more toilets for women to meet the needs of those visiting from abroad.

That being said, many have expressed concern that shared toilets could lead to an increase in peeping or sexual assaults, with a broken lock causing significant concern. Whilst, quite frankly, many Chinese people simply do not wish to share toilets with those of the other sex.

For those wondering about the future of our British loos, the team at Brantlegh Waste have done some research and it would seem that the traditional British sensibility reigns supreme. This is seen in a recent controversy in South London where a decision to create a “combined unisex space” in Chelsea Sports Centre has caused some furore, with many residents and athletes voicing significant objections. That being said it does look likely that the planned changes will go ahead. It remains to be seen if this sort of stance will be adopted by the rest of Britain.

If you have any questions regarding waste management or want to voice your opinion on gender neutral toilets the team at Brantlegh Waste would love to hear from you. Please give us a call on 0333 80000 613 or email us on info@brantlegh.co.uk