China Jinjiang Environment sees social gains in tackling waste

Jinjiang Environment chairman Wang Yuanluo bagged the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 China Award in the clean tech category. She sees the waste treatment sector as a social responsibility and mission.
Jinjiang Environment chairman Wang Yuanluo bagged the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 China Award in the clean tech category. She sees the waste treatment sector as a social responsibility and mission.PHOTO: CHINA JINJIANG ENVIRONMENT

It might not be a stretch to say that bridge - one of the world's most popular card games - is in Ms Wang Yuanluo's blood.

An accomplished bridge enthusiast, the chairman of Singapore Exchange-listed China Jinjiang Environment Holding hones her management skills by playing the tactical game, which involves partnerships, auctions and contracts.

Ms Wang, 60, is one of the pioneering executives who built up Jinjiang Environment. She was group chief executive officer for 13 years before taking on the role of chairman. Before joining Jinjiang Environment in 2004 as a director, she was involved in the management of Hangzhou Jinjiang Group's green energy business, and has chalked up over 20 years of industry experience.

The graduate of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University holds a bachelor's degree in engineering in silk weaving, and has a higher diploma in enterprise management from Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is also a senior economist certified by the Zhejiang Province Department of Personnel. Last year, Ms Wang clinched the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 China Award in the clean technology category.

SENSE OF MISSION

"When I first entered the waste treatment industry, I approached it like any other enterprise. But over the last 23 years, I've come to view it as a social responsibility and a mission," she said.

"What drives me is that the business is not just a business. There is a societal and environmental purpose behind it, which makes it extremely meaningful. Without that sense of mission, I wouldn't have been able to stay in this industry for so many years, or grow the company to what it is today."

Jinjiang Environment, a forerunner in China's waste-to-energy (WTE) industry, is one of the country's largest private operators in terms of waste treatment capacity.

Listed on the Singapore Exchange mainboard in August 2016, the group runs 21 WTE facilities in 12 provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities in China, with a current waste treatment capacity of 30,980 tonnes per day.

The WTE business involves the construction, operation and/or ownership of plants that treat municipal solid waste. Jinjiang Environment typically enters into long-term service concession agreements with local governments, and offers tailored energy-saving and residual heat utilisation solutions under its energy management contracting division.

BOOSTING EXPERTISE

Jinjiang Environment has a current market capitalisation of about $650 million. Between 2014 and last year, group revenues have expanded by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.2 per cent, while net attributable profits have risen by a CAGR of 18.6 per cent. Gross profit margin has averaged 40.9 per cent over this period.

Looking ahead, Jinjiang Environment aims to boost its leadership position in China by broadening its domestic footprint and upgrading its technology offerings, Ms Wang said.

Apart from the 21 WTE facilities that are currently operating, the group has two plants under construction and expansion, and another 21 in the preparation stage. Eight facilities are being upgraded, while seven other projects are focused on waste recycling. The majority of the facilities are on a build-own-operate model, with the rest on a build-operate-transfer model.

It plans to accelerate the pace of technical upgrading by introducing advanced pre-treatment technology from Europe, and combining it with its own independent research and development.

"We're integrating advanced technologies from Germany and Finland with our existing solutions, so the group can offer the best of European know-how through customised offerings, but at a much lower cost," Ms Wang said.

Last March, it partnered Zhejiang University to set up the National Engineering Laboratory for Waste Incineration Technology and Equipment - an important base that integrates innovation resources, boosts technology development efforts, and grooms talent.

'ENGULFED IN WASTE'

The Chinese government has also prioritised the issue of waste treatment, given the country's rapid urbanisation.

Last year, China's urban waste collection was more than 200 million tonnes, highlighting the phenomenon of "cities engulfed in waste", Ms Wang said.

Beyond China, Jinjiang Environment has set its sights on overseas markets along the One Belt, One Road zone.

It will focus, in particular, on South-east Asian countries - including Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore - that have waste characteristics similar to those of China.

Last year, the group made its successful entry into Singapore's waste disposal market with the planned construction and operation of a mechanical biological treatment project. This facility will have a service concession period of 20 years and daily waste treatment capacity of 500 tonnes per day.

Jinjiang Environment also secured three WTE projects in India last year, which will begin construction this year. In April, it made its first foray into the Latin American market, following an agreement to acquire a 51 per cent stake in a Brazilian WTE company.

UNITY IS KEY

When Jinjiang Environment's operating projects, as well as those under construction and in preparatory stages - both at home and abroad - are fully completed, its total waste treatment capacity is expected to rise to 66,086 tonnes per day. It is estimated to achieve this target by the end of next year.

"Teamwork and determination are critical - we need to be united when dealing with difficult situations and solving day-to-day problems. Otherwise, we will not be able to move forward," said Ms Wang, who hails from a family of academics and has a 33-year-old daughter.

• This is an edited excerpt from SGX's Kopi-C: The Company Brew, a regular column featuring C-level executives of SGX-listed companies. Previous editions can be found on SGX's My Gateway website www.sgx.com/mygateway

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2018, with the headline 'China Jinjiang Environment sees social gains in tackling waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe