Eco-friendly toilets revive heavy industry company in Yunnan

Xinhua
In an old industrial factory with broken windows and doors, Geng Jiasheng and his colleagues are producing mobile, eco-friendly toilets.
Xinhua

In an old industrial factory with broken windows and doors, Geng Jiasheng and his colleagues are producing mobile, eco-friendly toilets.

Geng, 55, is a lathe operator at Yunnan Metallurgical Kunming Heavy Industry Co Ltd, which has been manufacturing casting machines, cranes and other heavy equipment for mining, metallurgy, and road construction since 1958.

The company, located in Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, however, ran into trouble over the past several years because sales of heavy mechanical products plummeted, leaving several workshops idle.

"Many of my co-workers left the company and found other jobs," said Geng.

At the end of 2015, the company began to research and develop new products, among which eco-friendly toilets were chosen as the perfect product for the company's reform for revival.

"We didn't really know much about producing eco-friendly toilets back then, but we knew they had huge market potential," said Peng Yong, general manager of the company.

"The outdated toilets in downtown areas and scenic spots were not convenient for the public," said Peng, "Both local people and tourists needed better toilets."

"What's more, the 'toilet revolution' advocated by the central government has brought us many opportunities," Peng added.

The Chinese government launched its "toilet revolution" across the country in 2015 with an aim to make public facilities cleaner and better regulated.

After setting goals for reform, the company selected staff from different posts to form a research team, with Geng serving as team leader.

"At the beginning, we only developed a simple blueprint," said Geng, who instructed the team to start from scratch, search for data, and ask for suggestions from others. After three months of hard work, the first generation of the product was developed.

"Using biological cleaning technology, with just one flush, the water will turn the feces into water which will be recycled back to the tank and used for future flushes. The water in the tank will be atomized before it's flushed," Geng said. "The toilet is suitable for scenic spots and other sites with scarce water resources."

"Reform is no easy job, but we have cooperated with other companies and brought in technical resources," said Peng, adding that the automatic production line, with an investment of over 30 million yuan (about US$4.4 million), has started mass production.

Meanwhile, Geng's team continues to upgrade their products. The fourth generation toilet can be used by more than 400 people every day.

"We received our first order of 50 toilets from the government of Zhaoyang district in northeast Yunnan last year," Geng said. "We will continuously improve our products to guarantee their quality and provide convenience for users."

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