This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/25/2017

Overview
China is the largest and fastest growing emerging market for environmental technologies. The overall environmental technologies market in China (including goods and services) is valued at USD 60.7 billion (EBI Data Pack, December 2016).

 

China’s 13th Five Year Plan promotes a cleaner and greener economy, with strong commitments to environmental management and protection, clean energy, emissions controls, ecological protection and security, and the development of green industries. With the introduction of the amended Environmental Protection Law on January 1, 2015, China fundamentally restructured its approach to environmental regulatory enforcement.

In December 2016, China promulgated its first Environmental Protection Tax Law in order to strengthen the enforcement of environmental regulations.  This law imposes taxes on entities that emit solid waste, air and water pollutants, and noise pollution; and it will come to effect on January 1, 2018. Taxes collected will be based on the volume of the pollutants discharged.   The reliance on monitoring and incentives to reduce emissions should result in opportunities for environmental technology firms.

Although China’s environmental regime has improved with the development of a national legal framework, enforcement remains weak in many areas. Market barriers, particularly those related to protection of intellectual property, continue to make China a challenging market for U.S. companies.
 
Leading Sub-Sectors
Air Pollution Control
Air pollution is arguably the most egregious environmental problem plaguing China.  Smog in urban areas has become so bad that flights have been grounded and children have been hospitalized. The central government has placed improving air quality as a priority on its agenda for the next several years, with China’s Premier pledging in March 2017 to “bring back blue skies” and work faster to address air pollution.

The amended Air Law, approved by the National People's Congress in September 2015, established various legal mechanisms to improve ambient air quality. The new amendments have expanded the list of pollutants to also include particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and greenhouse gases. Further doubling down on sources of pollution, the new amendments require buildings with centralized heating that discharge industrial gases or hazardous air pollutants to apply for a pollutant discharge permit from the State Council. This permit system could eventually lead to more stringent oversight of emissions and environmental impact assessments.

Water
The State Council issued its highly anticipated Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan in April 2015.  The plan sets a series of ambitious targets for 2030, including achieving excellent water quality in seven major water sheds, elimination of “black and odorous” water, and achieving an overall water quality of level-3 or better for 95 percent of point sources in urban areas.  The Action Plan delineates 26 detailed requirements and 238 measures to improve water quality and promote water stewardship. Key themes include industrial effluent management, wastewater treatment, water reuse, enhanced monitoring, and new enforcement mechanisms. Additionally, China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) sets new targets for wastewater effluent quality, sludge management, and drinking water quality.

Soil remediation
China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and the Ministry of Land Resources report that 16.1 percent of China’s soil is polluted and that of this total, 19.4 percent of arable land is polluted. Much of this contamination is non-organic with the most prevalent pollutants being cadmium, nickel, and arsenic. Soil pollution threatens the safety of agricultural products and contributes to groundwater pollution through leaching.
The People’s Daily newspaper has suggested that as many as 300,000 brownfield sites are in need of treatment before redevelopment. However, there are still limited market opportunities in the short term due to the lack of standards and funding.

Opportunities
Air Pollution Control
Ambient Air Monitoring
In 2015, China also amended its national Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law. The revised law took effect on January 1, 2016 and placed the onus to improve local air quality directly on city and municipal governments, which are now subject to oversight by a national-level coordinating body that is accountable to the State Council.  In addition, major emitters are now required to install automated monitoring equipment and to publish their emissions data. Implementation of the state plan and amended Air Pollution Law will thus require the development of a series of ambient air monitoring networks and should yield opportunities for U.S. air pollution monitoring and instrumentation companies.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Continuous emissions monitoring systems

  • Ambient air quality monitoring equipment

  • Source emissions measurement technologies

  • Analytical and laboratory testing goods and services

  • Air pollution control equipment

  • Fuel vapor control systems

 
Industrial Air Pollution Reduction
In its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for the December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, China committed to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 or earlier. China’s NDC also calls explicitly for the control of emissions from key industries, specifically iron and steel, nonferrous metals, building materials, and chemicals. The recently-amended Air Pollution Law follows on China’s NDC commitments by expanding the list of centrally-controlled pollutants beyond solely NOx and SOx to include particulate matter, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and greenhouse gases.  If properly enforced, this emissions reduction effort will require the implementation of control technologies at industrial sites. Industries that will be of the highest interest for the application of control technologies include iron, cement, and steel plants; oil refineries; non-ferrous metallurgical plants; coal boilers; and petrochemical plants.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Wet/dry scrubbers (particularly systems that remove multiple pollutants)

  • Carbon injection systems (for reduction in mercury and organics)

  • Particulate matter control systems (particularly new bagging systems)

  • NOx, mercury, CO2 and particulate matter monitoring and continuous monitoring systems

  • Selective catalytic and non-catalytic reduction controls

  • Oxygen enrichment, fuel injection and other efficient combustion technologies

  • Innovative specialty cements

  • Mixing technologies

  • Pumping and fluid handling equipment

  • Engineering and plant design

  • Leak detection equipment

  • Alternative fuel technologies used to fire cement kilns

 
Power Plant Emissions Reduction
The Chinese power generation sector is heavily reliant on coal and in the past has applied few if any central measures to reduce particulates and other criteria pollutants such as sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury. Coal-fired power plants generated 70 percent of China’s energy in 2014, significantly contributing to air quality issues in the region.  Though the total amount of coal-fired power capacity has grown annually, China is working to reduce the environmental footprint of coal utilization, including emissions of particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and CO2. Thus, a major focus in the country is to increase the use of high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal technologies to meet the dual objectives of providing power and realizing environmental and social responsibility.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Continuous emissions monitoring systems

  • Dry sorbent injection technologies

  • Flue gas desulfurization equipment

  • Activated carbon injection technologies

  • Inspection, adjustment, maintenance and repair services

  • Selective catalytic reduction technologies

  • Electrostatic precipitators (wet and dry), including horizontal WESPs

  • Waste Management and Recycling

 
Solid Waste and Recycling
Over the next decade, China’s municipal solid waste (MSW) generation is expected to increase on pace with its rapidly growing and urbanizing population and is likely to reach 1.39 million tons per day by 2025 (World Bank, March 2012).
 
Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Waste pile design and sampling

  • Composting equipment

  • Sorting machines

  • Crushing and grinding machines

  • Materials handling equipment

  • Collection services, containers and vehicles

  • Recycling process expertise

 
Recycling of Discarded Electronics
After almost three decades of mass production of electrical and electronic devices and equipment, China has entered a strong “phasing out” period. Managing Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) has become a new and critical challenge to China’s already fragile city environment ecosystem, but it also creates new growth potential for the treatment and recycling business.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Sorting machines

  • Crushing and grinding machines

  • Materials handling equipment

  • Collection services, containers, and vehicles

  • Recycling process expertise

 
Hazardous Waste Management
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection estimates 60 million tons of hazardous waste was generated annually as of 2015. With current disposal capacity at approximately one-third of that amount, there is an urgent need to develop disposal capacity commensurate to the scope and size of waste production. Four billion dollars have been set aside to construct 300 hazardous waste disposal facilities and initiate brownfield remediation projects throughout China.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Waste handling equipment

  • Waste treatment technologies

  • Brownfield site remediation design and equipment

  • Soil contamination testing and monitoring equipment

 
Municipal Water and Wastewater Treatment and Plant Development
Aggressive construction of water treatment plants continues as China works to improve water quality and enhance access to drinking water and sanitation services. In 2016, the 13th Five-Year Plan established a new discharge standard for wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) that that should be met by the end of 2017. In the coming years, China hopes to protect drinking water sources and improve the water quality of centralized drinking sources. The government hopes to expand and promote the protection and management of important water resources.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Waste handling equipment

  • Engineering, procurement and construction services

  • Advanced filtration

  • Membrane filtration

  • Waste to energy technology

  • Anaerobic digestion

  • Nitrification

  • Biological denitrification

  • Monitoring equipment

  • Testing equipment

  • Air flotation

 
Sludge Treatment
Recent government action has led to the development of technology standards for sludge treatment, a requirement that municipalities install sludge treatment systems and a central government capital development investment of RMB 60 billion (USD 9.6 billion) for sludge treatment facilities. The Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan calls for enhanced processing of 90 percent of sludge from cities and prefectures, including sludge stabilization, disinfection, and resource recovery. The 13th Five-Year Plan also requires an increase in wastewater tariffs across the country by the end of 2016 to cover sludge treatment costs. Nonetheless, lack of domestic operational expertise and technology for sludge treatment remains a challenge for China that could provide sludge treatment opportunities for U.S. firms.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Engineering and design

  • Sludge disinfection systems

  • Sludge dewatering and drying systems

  • Anaerobic digestion

  • Bio-gas/natural gas recovery

  • Nitrogen and phosphorus recovery technologies

 
Groundwater Monitoring, Pollution Prevention, and Remediation
Much of China’s groundwater resources have been degraded by pollution, limiting their use as a reliable source for drinking water. The Ministry of Land Resources reports that 57 percent of ground water ranks ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ in quality estimates. The National Groundwater Contamination Prevention and Remediation Plan calls for an RMB 34.7 billion (US$ 6.2 billion) investment through 2020. Groundwater protection efforts are focused on monitoring, source control, and remediation. U.S. Superfund experience in environmental remediation creates a competitive advantage for U.S. companies.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Monitoring equipment

  • Source pollution control technologies

  • Sparging

  • Bioremediation

  • Chemical treatment

  • Flushing

  • In-situ air stripping

  • Multiphase extraction

  • Permeable reactive barrier

  • Phytoremediation

  • Pump and treat

 
Water Efficiency and Reuse
Increasing water efficiency and reuse to limit waste and prevent shortages is a national priority. These priorities will be a boon to companies exporting membrane, non-revenue water management, and industrial water efficiency technologies. It is estimated that water reuse will lead to 30 percent annual growth over the next five years in the membrane technology market.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Engineering and design

  • Monitoring equipment

  • Non-revenue water control software

  • Membranes

  • Advanced filtration

  • Low-loss distribution equipment

  • Storage equipment

Process and Produced Water
New effluent standards and better enforcement thereof are driving growth in water treatment, while continued industrial expansion and water reuse targets also drive the processed water market. China anticipates strengthening pollution control in many of its water-intensive industries, particularly in pulp and paper, printing and dying, chemicals, leather, and large-scale livestock and poultry.  The Water Action Plan anticipates the imposition of cleaner production standards for ten major industries: papermaking, nitrogen-based fertilizers, steel, nonferrous metals, textiles, agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, leather tanning, pesticides, and electroplating. The Plan also promises to inspect and close facilities in these and other industries if they continue to use highly polluting production methods.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Engineering and design

  • Monitoring equipment

  • Membranes

  • Advanced filtration

 
Soil Remediation
A result of weak or non-existent waste management strategies, including the failure to develop sanitary landfills, has led to prevalent soil pollution. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land Resources report that 16.1 percent of China’s soil and 19.4 percent of all arable land is polluted.  Much of this contamination is non-organic with the most prevalent pollutants being cadmium, nickel, and arsenic. Soil pollution threatens the safety of agricultural products and contributes to groundwater pollution through leaching.

The Chinese Government is in its early stages of planning a national effort to address soil pollution, but in the coming years a substantial remediation effort should yield opportunities for U.S. providers of remediation technology and services.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Engineering and design

  • Monitoring equipment

 
Environmental Engineering and Consulting
The new Environmental Protection Law (EPL) stipulates that all new construction projects must undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before construction permits can be issued.  Similar to the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), if fully implemented, the EPL will drive development of a massive industry for EIAs – an area where U.S. environmental engineering and consulting firms have substantial expertise.

Key Technologies in Demand:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment

 
Trade Shows & Events
U.S. – China Environmental Industries Forum (EIF)
May 8-9, 2017
New Orleans
 
International Environmental Expo
May, 2017
Shanghai, China
 
China International Environmental Protection Exhibition & Conference (CIEPEC)
June 13-16, 2017
Beijing, China
 
Aquatech China
June, 2017
Shanghai, China
 
Web Resources
Ministry of Environmental Protection Environmental
China National Environmental Monitoring Center
China Environmental News
China Solid Waste
Water China
China City Water
 
U.S. Commercial Service Contact for Environmental Technology Sector
U.S. Embassy in Beijing
Jiangyao Zhang, Commercial Specialist
(86 10) 8531-3000
jiangyao.zhang@trade.gov
 
U.S. Consulate in Chengdu
Mengyue Xu, Commercial Specialist
(86 28) 8558 3992 ext. 6720
mengyue.xu@trade.gov
 
U.S. Consulate in Shanghai
Sophia Chen, Commercial Specialist
(86 21) 6279-7630
shiqiao.chen@trade.gov
 
U.S. Consulate in Shenyang
Xiaoleo Zhou, Commercial Specialist
(86 24) 2322 1198 – 8146
evelyn.zhou@trade.gov
 
U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou
Aimee Jia, Commercial Specialist
(86 20) 3814-5568
aimee.jia@trade.gov
 
U.S. Consulate in Wuhan
Jing Wang, Commercial Specialist
(86 27) 8555 7791 – 808
jing.wang@trade.gov

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.


More Information

China Environmental Technology Trade Development and Promotion