Greenwave's David Wang on COVID-19 and Winter Health Problems in Beijing

By Alistair Baker-Brian, December 21, 2020

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Issues surrounding water and air quality have been brought into stark focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a market leader in China, Greenwave has provided healthy water and air solutions to a whole host of customers for the past 10 years. 

We caught up with general manager David Wang who talked about Greenwave’s history, the effects of the pandemic on Greenwave and how to combat winter health problems in Beijing.  

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For those who are not familiar with Greenwave, can you give us a brief introduction to your company? 
Greenwave is an environmentally conscious company focused on water and air filtration solutions for families, restaurants, hotels, offices, international schools and elsewhere. It was founded in 2010 by myself and some partners in Shanghai. 

At the time, there were many people who faced difficult issues regarding unhealthy water and air. Many people didn’t do anything to improve the air and water in their surrounding environment. At that time, some people even got their drinking water shipped from abroad because they found it hard to trust the water here.

Over the past 10 years, we have provided products to help with water used for drinking, showering, hand-washing, laundry and more products such as drinking water purifiers, laundry filters, shower filters, faucet filters, etc.) We know that families care about water and air quality in their own homes. But they also care about water and air quality in other spaces like shopping malls, hotels, international schools, restaurants and elsewhere. So as well as focusing on people’s homes, we also have many commercial clients.

In how many cities in China does Greenwave currently operate? 
We have clients in more than 35 cities. But we cannot have branches in all of those places. So our branches are based in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. For these three cities, we will have our own employees provide services. For other cities, we will either visit them directly or we will use local third-party contractors to provide the same services to them. 

Let’s talk a little about the pandemic. It’s had a negative effect on many industries but has brought into focus the importance of water quality and air quality. Have you noticed more people coming to you for solutions? 
Here’s the thing. We deal mainly with the international community. Even until now, around 70% of our market is expats in China. So when the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged at the beginning of this year and the ‘door closed’ while people were outside of China, they could not come back and use our products or services. And for those in China, the prevention and control measure were so strict, many residential communities would not allow our employees inside for fear of spreading the virus. This meant that we could not carry out many of our regular services. 

However, we were able to keep afloat by supplying PPE. We pooled a lot of resources into shipping masks abroad. Even now, we export a lot of PPE materials to countries like France and the US. So that supported us through this very devastating time. We were very much affected at the beginning because we could not do a lot of our usual business. Over time, China pretty much got the situation under control. That meant staff could return to work as normal and we restored a lot of our local services. 

So have you noticed a change in the attitudes of individuals towards issues surrounding water and air quality? 
We deal mainly with international communities and ‘high-end’ locals. These people tend to be more alert to these sorts of problems than ‘ordinary people.’ So they have always been aware of the need for clean water and clean air solutions for themselves and their families. The kinds of customers we serve already had a solid understanding of these sorts of health problems prior to COVID-19. 

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Winter is now well underway. In your opinion, what are the main health problems which people in Beijing and other parts of northern China should be aware of at this time of year? 
Usually harmful PM2.5 air particles increase during winter. Winter also tends to be drier, so people need to use more skincare products to prevent dry skin. What’s more, during the winter, water quality is also a very big issue. Usually, when the temperature drops, more chlorine will be found in the water.

On the issue of air quality, people should use KN95 or N99 reusable masks outdoors. Indoors, people should use some HEPA filters to help remove harmful small-sized particles from the air.

Also regarding humidity in the air, to make sure the air is not too dry and people do not become dehydrated, it is best for people to have some kind of humidifier. The humidity level will then be better when indoors. And of course, people should also remember to keep hydrated by drinking purified drinking water.  

Comparatively speaking between Beijing and Shanghai, Beijing water tends to be a lot harder containing more chlorine. In Sanlitun and Shunyi there is a lot of chlorine which can sometimes explain people’s skin and hair problems. Chlorine filters will therefore provide a lot of help for residents in those areas. 

If people want to learn more about Greenwave’s products and services, where can they go to do so?
We have offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, all located in central areas of each city. So clients can come to visit us in person to learn more about our services and products. 

Events are also an important way to get our message out. We attend a lot of events at international schools, with expat associations and elsewhere. So potential clients can also know more about what we do from here. 

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This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Read more: Explainer: Why Winter is the Most Polluted Time of Year in China

[Images via @KovacInc/Twitter, Greenwave and David Wang]

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