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Potty luck: Hutong toilets to finally provide free paper

Dongcheng district launches bold plan to make toilets great... again?

We've all been there: you're wandering the Beijing streets, when disaster strikes in the form of an unsettling, unswerving need to hit the can. All colour drains from your face, there's a ringing in your ears, you're done for, all hope is lost – until salvation appears in the form of a trusty hutong toilet. Precious relief. But, alas, there's no toilet paper – until now.

Well, soon, as the Dongcheng Sanitation Bureau has this week announced an ambitious, nay, momentous project boldly titled the 'Toilet Revolution 2018', which aims to equip all of its district's public toilets with complimentary bog roll, among other ritzy lav upgrades. As Beijing-based Kanfa News reports, work has already begun to install automated dispensers in as many as 200 public toilets by the end of the year, with 1,325 to be kitted out and catapulted into the new era within the next three years.

Like everything these days, you'll apparently need to scan a QR code – sigh, 'can I not even shit without handing over my data?' – to be doled out 80cm of paper; if that's not enough for your majesty, you are entitled to a second scan, though there's no mention of when your allocation refreshes, so don't spend it all at once.

But that's not all! Obviously, not all toilets were created equal, and nor will all be turned into five-star lounges, but the great Toilet Revolution of 2018 will see upgrades ranging from the addition of baby-changing facilities and further fittings to aid the elderly, to more dividers between urinals and squatty potties for increased privacy. There will also be measures taken to improve the privy experience across the seasons, with upgraded ventilation and temperature regulation, plus openable skylight windows to maximise airflow and, fingers crossed, limit the summer stank with a cool breeze.

But that's still not all: the toilets are also going to be greener, with the installation of more efficient flush systems to limit water waste, and sensor-activated lighting to save on the sparks. Sounds pretty comprehensive, really – all that's missing is a moist towelette, butler service and a complimentary glass of prosecco on entry.

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