Greening an Industrial Town
Yinghai Township continues to be an innovator in “turning waste into treasure.” The expanding green space within Yinghai Township has not only improved the environment but also won the support and appreciation from the residents.
Past Beijing's southern Fifth Ring Road, south along the BeijingTaipei Highway, is a large area of newly-built housing called Yinghai Jiayuan, constructed on reclaimed industrial land. From the balconies of these apartments, a large green area can be seen. The apartments and lush park are the fruit of the South-central ecological culture development axis project.
“This is our Yinghai Leisure Park,” says a staff member of the Daxing Yinghai township government, pointing toward an area of pine trees and other greenery.
The beautiful scenery of the park attracts visitors and local people alike. The flowers attract many passers-by who stop and take photographs. On the trails, people take leisurely strolls. At the entrance of the park is a sign reading: “Keep off the grass, area seeded.”
However, only a few years ago, what is now a lush, 10-hectare (ha)urban park was in poor condition. Its complete facelift and transformation is a result of turning construction debris into useful materials.
The Little Known Past
“They've done something really good here. They've done a really nice job.” Sixth-three-year- old Grandpa Fu lives in the Yinghai residential area across from the park. “Now that the road is completed, I'm here to take a look,” Fu said. He rides a bicycle in the park and has long been a frequent visitor. “I used to come here a lot, and have seen the place changed for the better,” he said.
Before the project, the area was completely different. A few years ago,
Translated By Rebecca Lou Edited by Mary Frances Cappiello Photos by Qu Bowei
there were several scattered industrial buildings in the area. The environment was dirty, disorderly and the traffic was bad. However, in October 2016, Yinghai Township was selected to be the site of one of the national reform pilot projects in the use of collective land. A series of demolitions and relocations was initiated and the area underwent major facelifts. According to Zhang Wei, general manager of Beijing Huiying Hengye Co. Ltd., the project “involved the demolition of the remaining seven industrial parks with more than 480 non-residential houses. A total of 300 ha of land was reclaimed and over 3.28 million cubic metres (cu.m) of construction space was dismantled. About 3.85 million cu.m of construction waste was left over from the project.”
In February 2015, Daxing District was included in the pilot project of national land reform. In accordance with the principle of “demolition precedes construction,” the township- owned Beijing Huiying Hengye Co. Ltd. started relocation and demolition of seven village-level industrial complexes. “Construction waste once piled up like a mountain, but if the waste is trucked outside,” Zhao explained, “It will create secondary pollution problems.”
Grandpa Fu appreciates the new environment created by the project. He stated: “In the past, it was really messy around here. There were small workshops in the courtyard, waste collectors, and there were many safety hazards. After the relocation, this place is completely changed. There are now places for people to spend leisure time. There are green trees and flowers, and the park is much better.”
Residents like Fu enjoy their new surroundings and the Yinghai leisure park is their favourite place to spend time. However, most residents do not know that the park was created from the huge amount of construction waste left over from demolition.
“A great deal of illegal construction was taken down and the large amount of construction waste such as bricks, concrete, muck and metal pipes started to accumulate, which delayed the work of park construction teams.” According to a guideline issued in August this year by the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau, construction waste will be sorted and recycled locally. Yinghai Township is apparently already taking action.
Witnessing a Miracle
“Clear waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets.” Yinghai Township is dedicated to creating a green ecological environment for the people, hence their decision to build a park from construction waste.
What kind of park should be built? This needed to be considered immediately, and the job fell to the design company.
“In preliminary research and investigation of the project, we focused on the basic situation of the plot itself, the surrounding area, the overall future development of the town, and the potential needs of the local residents,” said Li Xuejiao, landscape architect and coordinator of the greening project. Key factors to be considered in the initial design of the project included the treatment of construction waste generated in the urbanisation of the town, improvement of the existing and future green open space network, construction of residential space and trails, tapping the unique cultural elements of the area, and improving the quality of life for the people. "The conceptualisation and finalisation of our design plan was mainly based on these issues,” said Li.
Turning Waste into Treasure
“Waste” is something considered to have no value—until its usefulness is recognised. “Turning waste into treasure” is a process of discovering its value and making rational use of it. Li has her own strategy for this. “In the construction process, the waste we have to deal with is construction waste generated in the rapid construction of the town. Poor handling of the construction waste will only add to the burden of urban city builders. We designed a process in which waste can be reduced, recycled and made harmless. This process is how we can turn waste into treasure.”
In April 2017, Yinghai Township launched a public bid and hired a company to process the construction waste. The reclamation process had begun.
“Through the separation of construction waste, we were able to recycle locally.” Construction waste was separated into various categories such as bricks, blocks, concrete, wood, metal, glass and plastics. This sorted waste can then be recycled in landscaping projects. For example, whole bricks or concrete blocks can be used for pavements, car parks, or in leisure plazas. Broken bricks and smaller concrete blocks can be used in gardens. Wood and plastic materials can be used for wood planks and garden decoration. Metal, glass and plastics can be recycled.
The Yinghai Park used this kind of construction waste. “Crushers were used to screen and sort the waste,” explained Tan Xiaowei, the person in charge of the construction crushing unit. “First, we separated iron, domestic garbage and cloth strips from the construction waste. The iron was recycled through smelters. The domestic garbage and cloth were transported to Nangong Garbage Incineration Plant.” Though construction waste contains many types of materials, the elaborate sorting process separates the recyclable from the non-recyclable. The recyclable can then be used to make many types of new materials. “Remaining concrete and brick tiles were pulverised to make materials for road paving foundations, filling up the inside of bricks, making porous bricks and landscaping,” said Tan.
“Now the construction waste crushing project is approaching the end,” continued Tan. “Only two of the six centralised crushing stations remain. At the peak, there were six crushing stations with a total of 10 processing machines that had an annual disposal capacity of 7.9 million tonnes. The processed particles are no bigger than three centimetres in diameter.” The establishment of the centralised crushing stations was based on the principle of proximity and fulfilling needs. “These recycled materials and harmless particles are re-used in the vicinity in greening construction projects. Such a process will reduce unnecessary investment and pollution caused by repeated transportation of the materials.” As the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau highlighted in their guidelines, “special crushers or mobile crushing stations for construction waste can be used when necessary. The bulk concrete and waste bricks and other materials shall be broken down to a smaller size." In the crushing station of Yinghai, the detritus will be moulded into desired shapes and materials with the aid of computers. These materials will then be loaded onto trucks for use in the park.
After classification and treatment, about 800,000 cu.m of the original construction waste was made into aggregate and permeable bricks, which were used in the park. Construction waste was made useful again to enhance the living conditions and ecological environment.
“The volume of recycled aggregate determines the design,” landscape architect Li Xueyu explained. “The aggregated materials recycled from the construction waste are used for landscaping. The reclaimed permeable bricks are used to pave trails. The recycled gravel is used to lay the roadbed.” Naturally, if there is more aggregate, the hills will be higher. In order to make the green plants grow better, it is necessary to cover the aggregated materials with two meters (m) of new soil. Technical details similar to this are also in line with government guidelines, which forbid the use of contaminated and hazardous construction waste, and prohibit the mixing of crushed waste with soil for plants. Directly planting in recycled construction waste is also forbidden. According to regulations, the soil on top of recycled waste shall be no less than 1 m deep, while in areas where large trees are grown, the soil covering shall be no less than 2 m.
In the central area of Yinghai Park, there is an eye- catching paved trail with gray bricks. Three middle-aged people are strolling along it. “We come here every day and really enjoy taking a walk around,” they say. Young couples also like to take their children there. Some locals go there to walk dogs. It is easy to tell from people's smiles that they enjoy the park and the trail.
However, the unassuming grey bricks they walk on have hidden mysteries. Upon close inspection, pores are visible on the sides, and there are colours of dim red and cyan around the porous structures. The colours come from brick tiles recycled from construction waste. Yinghai
Park's paths are made from recycled permeable bricks.
Green and Liveable
To avoid possible secondary pollution, special treatments are used before and while the construction waste is crushed. Yinghai Township government and the related organisations and companies used several different measures to overcome difficulties and reduce pollution.
“One approach is that we strengthened the on-site supervision of the waste crushing,” said Zhang Wei, general manager of Beijing Huiying Hengye Co., Ltd. “Within the scope of the demolition and relocation, all the exposed ground surfaces were covered with straw mats; dump trucks were restricted to working in the evening to prevent noise and traffic congestion; sprinklers, equipment spraying and manual watering were adopted for dust reduction and dust proofing. Additionally, routine daily inspections were done by designated personnel to ensure all the work was carried out per regulations. If any problem was found, rectification would follow and be tracked.” To treat the remaining uncrushed construction waste, Yinghai Township government launched a new bid in August 2018, which was won by Beijing Yinghai Engineering Service Centre.
In addition, the Yinghai Township Government strictly monitored the key pollutants as they worried the construction waste landfill might negatively affect the soil. To evaluate whether using crushed construction waste for greening and landfill would pollute the soil and groundwater, they hired a company specialising in environment testing and took samples from a triangle of land at Xiyi village, Yinghai Township, not far from Yinghai Leisure Park.
The recycled materials have been have been integrated into the park's most attractive features. On Santai Road, in front of the township government building, looking south, there is a large, 2.5 kilometre long undulating green space, with winding trails and several white deer sculptures on it. Pointing to the trails, Tan Xiaowei the crushing contractor said, “Coarse aggregate was generally used in the micro-landscape of the park. Recycled permeable bricks made of fine aggregate were used for paving the trails, including these beside Santai Road. Sand and gravel aggregate was generally used to lay the roadbed.” Use of construction waste to build green spaces, such as parks, has successfully reduced the cost by 30 percent to 40 percent. “In the near future, there will be toilets here mainly made from recycled products,” Tan added.
The expanding green space
within Yinghai Township has not only improved the environment, but also won the support and appreciation from the residents. As Zhang Wei said, “At present, people are enjoying richer materials. In the meantime, their need for better cultural and leisure life is becoming stronger.” Such green leisure parks are welcome by the residents. They make Yinghai Township green all year round and residents can appreciate flowers for three seasons a year.
A Model of Waste Recycling
According to a guideline issued in August this year by the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau, each district shall appropriately use construction waste in greening projects and build intensive gardens and parks. Yinghai Township of Daxing District is a good pioneer and model.
In the future, it is expected to become a common practice to recycle construction waste from demolishing illegal buildings and use it in building urban parks and green spaces to fully utilise materials.
Statistics show that there are about 40 million tonnes of newly added construction waste each year in Beijing and that these materials are in fact misplaced resources. For Beijing, a long- established metropolis with limited space and resources, green and intensive development is advocated. This requires concerted effort to improve quality and decrease quantity. Making construction waste into useful resources is a shift in lifestyle and concept. This kind of green and intensive development is exactly in the vane of this green city.
In recent years, Yinghai Township's plan has been to coordinate the recycling of construction waste, ecological protection and local development. Professional greening designers have been hired to carry out unified planning and design, and green landscape belts have been built along main roads and rivers. The greening projects of Yinghai Township currently extend along the Beijing-taipei expressway, with the exits of Xingyi Road and Huangyi Road exits as nodes. Along Huangyi Road, greening was enhanced around Yinghai Jiayuan community as well as its entrances and exits. On the north and south sides of Santai Road, green landscape avenues and a sports plaza were built for residents to keep fit and enrich their cultural life. Public welfare cemeteries have also been constructed in the area using construction waste. There are some projects currently under
planning, such as using reclaimed waste to build sports parks and football theme parks.
The township's continuous efforts have been well- recognised. In June 2018, its case study of
“the Diversification of Enterprise Products” was selected as an excellent model for construction waste disposal and resource recycling by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban- Rural Development.
Yinghai Township continues to be an innovator in “turning waste into treasure.” In addition to hiring a professional company to scientifically dispose of and utilise construction waste, Yinghai Township built a fully enclosed construction waste disposal plant with a land occupation of about six ha and an annual capacity of over two million tonnes. The company continues to research construction waste recycling technology, improving the utilisation rate of construction waste and lowering its impact on the environment. Meeting the market demand, it makes construction waste into recycled products, such as those used in the local park, including recycled aggregate, permeable bricks, noise-reducing bricks and slope protection bricks. The products come with third-party test documents which satisfy customers' quality concerns and enhance the products' competitiveness.
Since 2017, Yinghai Township has disposed of 1.6 million tonnes of construction waste, with a recycling utilisation rate of over 96 percent. The recycled aggregate and other products have been used in various projects, including the roads in the 600-ha of the Binhe Forest Park in Beijing Economic-technological Development Area, greening of Nanhaizi Park and Yinghai Township, Beijing-taipei expressway, and the ring roads of Beijing.
Yinghai Township can serve as a model for development and diversification of enterprise products. Related enterprises of the township have devoted great effort to the research and development of new products, produced increasingly diversified products based on recycled aggregate, and extended their industrial chain. They have also kept a close eye on market demand. Through extended development of recycled aggregate and to ensure products' quality, they have been seeking new ways to comprehensively utilise construction waste and enhance its utilisation rate.
Yinghai Township can also be a model for its continuous expansion of green space. It is expected that by June 2019, the total greening area of Yinghai Township will reach 360 ha, among which 280 ha will have been reclaimed from demolition and relocation. Yinghai Township has expanded green space, optimised the layout of public green space, created an ecologically livable environment, and built “clear waters and lush mountains” with practical measures. The sound ecological environment has gradually become the cornerstone for improving residents' quality of life and a window to display the positive image of Yinghai Township. People here can enjoy a vigorous, healthy and happy life with enriched cultural activities.
The success of Yinghai Jiayuan and the Yinghai Leisure Park exemplify the Daxing District's development aims. In recent years, Daxing District has focused on the functional orientation of building itself into a demonstration zone for coordinated development of BeijingTianjin- Hebei, a zone led by scientific and technological innovation, a pioneer zone for deepening reform of urban- rural development, and a new gateway for international exchanges in the southern capital. It has become a good model for village security governance, a pilot of rural collective land construction, integrated development of industry and city, integrated development of urban and rural areas, and ecological improvement. It is striving to build a new highland of development in the south of the capital. Daxing District will strictly control and monitor its planning, strengthen strategic relocation and greening, and leave space for the functional development of the capital city in the new era. During Beijing's overall transformation, Daxing District has made use of the rare opportunity and made itself a greener and more pleasurable area.
South Beijing features more and more green spaces.
Residents enjoy the environment in Yinghai Township.
A resident enjoys leisure time in a park.
Deer sculptures that were made from construction waste.
A trail paved with permeable bricks made from recycled materials
Yinghai Leisure Park