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Sweet smell of strawberries and success for Goldenway Bio-Tech

Since it was established 10 years ago, Beijing Goldenway Bio-Tech Co in Zhongguancun has focused on only one thing - developing an entire industry chain to transform kitchen waste into a fertilizer called biological humic acid by using high-temperature aerobic fermentation.

In recent years, humic acid has become increasingly popular across the world because it helps reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers. It is naturally formed by coal and peat in a process that requires least 10,000 years.

Goldenway can make it in 11 hours. Workers pour a mixture of waste and catalyst into the company's proprietary processing equipment, then sawdust-like fertilizers come out. It produces no pollutants or offensive odors.

After filtration, the fertilizers can be slightly altered by adding different trace elements in line with the diversity of plants.

The company has fertilizers designed for apple and peach trees, as well as strawberries and vegetables.

"Compared with most of other organic fertilizers, our biological humic acid is three times as effective but contains only about 1 percent heavy metals," said Yu Jiayi, founder and CEO of Goldenway.

The company has 14 greenhouses for strawberries serving as test fields in Shunyi district of Beijing. "Our strawberries are so sweet and have a special scent that you can never forget," Yu said.

It also cooperates with the government of Changping district, famous for strawberry cultivation and as the host of the World Strawberry Congress last year.

Strawberries can be planted on the same piece of land for eight years with improved quality but no reduction in harvest by using the Goldenway strawberry biological fertilizer, according to the company.

Yu said the product can rapidly improve soil by increasing organic matter and fertility. Biological activity is enhanced, resulting in a healthier soil environment more resistant to plant diseases.

As an agricultural major in college, Yu has special feelings for soil.

"China has too many people with little land, which leaves no time for farmland to finish self-restoration. Most of the farmland lacks carbon and has become compacted due to years of non-stop cultivation," she said.

"In short, our fertilizers can bring the soil back to life," Yu said.

During the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Goldenway served as the exclusive treatment company for kitchen waste. It processed more than 1,000 tons of waste from various Olympic venues.

The promising company has also attracted famous investors including Goldman Sachs and Tsing Capital.

In 2010, it established China's largest kitchen waste treatment plant in Beijing's Chaoyang district.

The facility is designed to process about 132,000 tons of kitchen waste annually and produce 80,000 tons of biological humic acid, which means it can reduce the emission of 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, Yu said.

"Our potential contribution in improving China's environment is immeasurable," she added.

The company recently won the 2013 China Gold Patent Award.

The award "to some extent reflects that our technology will have a significant impact on the future lifestyle", Yu said.

In addition to Goldenway, other three Zhongguancun-based companies also won this year's national patent award.

As a main force of national innovation, Zhongguancun industrial park has robust momentum in scientific and technological research.

As of September, Zhongguancun companies had filed more than 23,000 patent applications for the year, an increase of 27 percent over the same period in 2012, accounting for almost 30 percent of the city's total. Nearly 60 percent of them were invention patent applications.

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