Getting my 2 yuan’s worth

I’ve hurtled around to just about every far flung metro station in Beijing for the princely sum of 20 pence a time. I’ve met a couple of companies working on wastewater treatment, and soil contamination. I’ve also met CERIA, the industry alliance on environmental remediation, who are acting as a useful conduit for information in this area. There some really positive examples of industry doing things right. Volkswagen’s operations are almost zero discharge, they recycle most of their process water.

While bioremediation is used in some places, in particular with activated sludge for treatment of recalcitrant pollutants, there is a long way to go. Stability, and consistency are two benchmarks to achieve.

One of the next visits I make is to the Blacksmith Institute who have been operating in China for quite some time. Their role has morphed from technical to advocacy, and their Global Inventory Project is a means of flagging up contaminated sites.

On the last day, I met the photographer Sean Gallagher, whose work on the textile industry in India has drawn him critical acclaim. We talked about the chain of events from photography to consumer awareness to remediation. None of us act in isolation. I’ve touched on the role of the image before, in Baotou, and I think people like Sean bring a nuanced and insightful viewpoint with their photodocumentaries.



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