Chinese search engine Baidu and the United Nations Development Program are hoping to streamline the recycling of e-waste in China with a new app that can help users easily sell their old electronics for cash.
The Web-based app called "Baidu Recycle Station" launched Monday as part a new joint lab established by the Chinese company and the U.N. group. The lab will use Baidu's Internet services and data analytics to develop programs targeted at helping the environment, health care, education and more. Baidu has already been working to analyze data from the Internet for applications as various as forecasting flu outbreaks and predicting the outcome of the World Cup.
In developing the recycling app, Baidu is tackling China's considerable e-waste problem. The country is the second largest producer of electronic trash, creating over 3.6 million tons of it each year, according to a U.N. study.
The search company hopes the app will help promote legitimate recycling factories that can offer users accurate pricing for old electronics. Many Chinese still rely on local street peddlers who buy old electronics for their valuable metals, Baidu said. But this often leads to the improper disposal of e-waste, resulting in ground and water pollution.
To create the app, Baidu and the U.N. group partnered with Chinese electronics vendor TCL to handle the recycling. Users can upload a photo of their old electronics, receive an estimated price, and then arrange for pick-up from TCL.
The app is already available for users in Beijing and Tianjin, but Baidu will roll out the service to other Chinese cities in the future. The joint lab is also inviting other groups such as the Chinese government, academics and companies to partner with it to develop future projects.