Industrial firms on the way to become green producers
A new push is on in China to try to improve the 'greening' of this country's industrial firms, which are traditionally some of the largest polluters in the country.
Yanshan Petrochemical runs a large petrochemical complex in Beijing.
Situated in a southwestern suburb of the Chinese capital, Yanshan Petrochemical is a subsidiary of Sinopec, the world's top oil refiner.
Partially due to its proximity to the urban area, authorities have been keen to 'green up" its industrial production to minimize its impact to the environment.
Occupying an area of some 36 square kilometers, Yanshan Petrochemical has several dozens of production units.
The photo shows a production unit of the Yanshan Petrochemical Company in suburban Beijing, May 25, 2018. [Photo: China Plus/Luo Dan]
Senior executive Qu Hongliang says his company now shares real-time data, including PM2.5 readings, with environment regulators at various levels.
"Monitoring volatile organic compounds, or VOC's, is very important for petrochemical companies like us. We've spent some 20 million yuan to set up 46 monitoring sites in all our production units. All key data is sent to the mobile phones of company managers as well as shared with databases with the Environment Ministry and the Beijing Environment Bureau. These are just some of the steps we're taking to show we're serious in helping preserve the environment."
A computer program in the company's command center also monitors for potential chemical leaks.
All employees have to go through regular training to deal with emergency situations.
Wastewater treatment is also critical for major industrial firms.
This is especially true for Yanshan Petrochemical, which refines 10 million tons of oil and produces 800-thousand tons of ethylene every year.
Most of Yanshan's 10-thousand employees live around the production site.
To help make the area more liveable, Yanshan officials came up with an idea to use the reprocessed wastewater to create a local wetland.
The photo shows a wetland park near the Yanshan Petrochemical Company in suburban Beijing, May 25, 2018. [Photo: China Plus/Luo Dan]
This became a reality in 2016 when Sinopec teamed up with a leading global resource management company to take control of the entire water cycle at the Yanshan facility.
After two years of planning and development, the wetland park now contains special aquatic plants which help further purify the processed water from the chemical plant nearby.
Liu Hong is one of the managers of the water at Yanshan.
She says the wetland has now become a paradise for birds.
"After technology update, we could make sure that chemical oxygen demand is about 30 milligram per liter, while the standard in some European country is about 125 milligram per liter"
Jerome Vanachter is a spokesperson for the foreign partner involved in the water recycling program.
He says the wetland is a good example of how harmony can be found between nature and human beings.
"This wetland is a way to show to the public in terms of environmental quality biodiversity. As is introduced here, we have very rich biodiversity, lots of birds for instance, more than 50 types of birds have been recognized here and some are very rare. Beijing nowadays has some the strictest regulations in terms of water discharge. So we've been helping and developing some solutions to decrease discharge to comply fully with that objective."
Vanachter also says he's impressed with the shift toward green development he's seen since he first moved to China.
"It was long time ago, 13 years ago. That was in 2005, I arrived in Inner Mongolia, it was not like here. But I was really amazed by its willingness to change in terms of development but also how quickly it is catching up with environment compliance."
Officials taking part in a high-profile environmental conference in Beijing this past week have suggested that by 2035 there will be a fundamental improvement in the quality of the environment across China, meeting the goal of building a "Beautiful China" by that time.