The 12th Five-Year Plan outlines rigorous environmental goals including reducing major pollutant emissions, safety of urban and rural drinking water resources, and the reversal of ecological deterioration. The increasing interest in environmental awareness across China presents an opportunity for U.S. companies to provide expertise and new technologies in key areas such as wastewater treatment, solutions to air and water pollution, and soil remediation. China relies heavily on its coal resources and imported oil. The methods used to extract and create energy from these resources involve high emissions of carbon and air and water pollutants. The government has highlighted alternative forms of energy as key to reduce pollution from these substances. Increased public awareness of major pollution incidents has influenced the government to put environmental protection efforts at the forefront of China’s future. There are many opportunities for U.S. companies to enter the Chinese market in these industries, however most of the industry is dominated by an invisible monopoly of State owned enterprises.
Market entry for U.S. companies may require significant time investments, a need for local personnel, or the creation of appropriate partnerships. Chinese companies embrace the knowledge and expertise that experienced U.S. companies have to offer in the environmental protection industries and desire to learn systems and knowledge from other nations and adapt them to fit the needs of China.
China’s per capita water supply is 2,100 m3 per year, or 25 percent of the world average. Water resources tend to be scarce, unevenly distributed, and often heavily polluted. China’s rapid industrial changes have created a need for environmental saving and protection solutions. The 12th Five-Year Plan highlights a 30 percent reduction in water use per unit of industrial production from 2011–2015. A future projection indicates the government will strive to continue to reduce the rate ofwater used per unit through 20201. These reductions are designed to reduce pollutants added to water. This industry has grown and accounted for nearly RMB 2 trillion in 2010. China’s close proximity to sea water has spurred the market for desalination. According to market estimation, during the 12th FYP, the compound growth rate of desalination industry could reach around 20 percent. By the end of 2015, the desalination projects and related investment could reach RMB 10 billion in China.
The government also plans to reduce chemical oxygen demand by 8 percent, a 10 percent reduction in ammonia nitrate, and a 15 percent reduction in other heavy metals.1 Urban and rural regions face very different water-related issues. Rural regions are highly affected by seasonal changes and frequently experience devastating droughts or floods. The people of these regions have limited access to safe, drinkable water. The urban population lacks the proper infrastructure for efficient water usage and water irrigation systems. The opportunities for companies looking to share knowledge and expertise in water treatment are both broad and comprehensive.
The severe water pollution and water shortage problems that are currently plaguing China provides an ample opportunity in the wastewater treatment industry. Sewage discharge has an annual increase of approximately 2.03 billion tons on average and accounted for 65.21 billion tons in 2011. The government has identified the lack of clean water as an issue and is working to improve China’s wastewater treatment facilities. In the 12th Five-Year Plan, the State Council introduced a National Urban Wastewater Treatment and Recycling Facilities Construction Program which is striving to build and advance the wastewater treatment plants by 2015. In 2010, the market was estimated to be about USD 6 billion. According to the government’s plan, they will allocate about RMB 430 billion (USD 63 billion) toward improving the urban sewage rate to 85 percent in urban areas, 70 percent in county-level cities, and 30 percent in towns by 2015.2 China has a rapidly increasing wastewater volume and recognizes the potential to use waste resources for energy generation. Sludge treatment and disposal represent another large market opportunity.
Thus far, due to lack of government incentives, the industry continues to build low-cost solutions and practice unsafe disposal through landfills despite the availability of more advanced technology solutions. U.S. companies looking to enter this market do face a number of entry barriers that can hinder growth including rapidly increasing sludge, water pricing mechanisms, intellectual property issues, waste collection constraints and increase electricity consumption in wastewater treatment plants. According to China Greentech Initiative U.S. Commercial Service Environmental Technologies Resource Guide | 2013–2014 25 wastewater treatment, water usage efficiency solutions, and water recycling technologies will be a significant potential market if stricter government enforcement is instated and intellectual property issues are solved.
Air pollution within China tends to be a both a national and regional issue. Air quality is becoming increasingly worse with the growing popularity of urbanization. Public awareness and international recognition of record-setting pollution levels, including the unhealthy level in Beijing in January 2013, have influenced the government’s acknowledgment of a need to place tighter restrictions on emissions and implement air pollution solutions. The market for clean air solutions such as indoor air quality and vehicle emission monitoring are open to all market players. China has made a strong commitment to monitor and reduce key pollutants nationwide. The government has highlighted a number of key substances to be reduced in the upcoming plan in addition to developing stricter rules on transportation air emissions and tightening standards on carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, and other particulates. Recent measures include the 2012 adoption of a new, more stringent national standard for fine particles (WHO level 1) as well as a comprehensive and transparent national air quality monitoring network.
Rapid urbanization in China has created a need for solutions to contaminated soil regions.
According to the Nanjing Soil Research Institute’s report, China has more than 1,000 farm chemical and pesticide production bases; together, 80 of these locations account for nearly six million tons of metal slag that lack the appropriate protection methods for rain or soil permeation.
The China Securities Journal predicts that the market value of soil remediation will be around RMB 40 billion (USD 6.36 billion) by 2015 and will account for nearly 15 percent of the total world market that year. On January 28, 2013, the State Council announced plans to improve China’s soil environment situation. This plan established efforts to develop a stringent 26 U.S. Commercial Service Environmental Technologies Resource Guide | 2013–2014 protection system for arable lands and concentrated lands used for drinking water resources through the preliminarily goal to decrease the growing rate of soil pollution by 2015. The State Council’s plans signified the first time a document of this kind was created to address and classify the polluted lands into categories based on pollution levels.
These standards present a new challenge for companies when identifying and reducing a soil’s pollution rate prior to the start of a project as failure to meet the requirements of the assessment or soil quality standards could result in loss of the land in question along with the government refusing to issue a construction permit. Although there is no unified policy across China regarding soil remediation or polluted land, government officials predict it will take a more prominent role in the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016–2020).
Cement Plant Pollution Reduction
EPA worked with the U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s China Energy Analysis Group to produce a benchmarking tool that recommends best practices to improve cement kiln combustion efficiency, which concomitantly reduces many conventional air pollutants, as well as greenhouse gases, and hazardous air pollutants such as dioxins/furans. The Benchmarking Energy Efficiency Standards Tool (“BEST”) is available at
With support from EPA, DOE/LBL has also produced guidelines for the use of alternative fuels (also called “co-processing”) such as sewage sludge and municipal solid waste. This practice is being heavily promoted in China to address the growing solid waste problem. The guide is available at go.usa.gov/bFPe.
For more information on EPA activities in China, please visit go.usa.gov/bFEx.
Industry News Archive
Back to top
(U.S. Foreign Commercial Service Market Research Library)
The following research reports authored by FCS are available for free on our market research library. To access them, you must register and then copy paste the following topics into the "keywords" section on the search engine.
South China’s Wind Power Market
Source: U.S. Foreign Commercial Service
Date: January, 2011
Environmental Protection in South China
China: Bayannaoer Water Reclamation and Environment Protection Project
Date: November, 2010
Shanghai: Environmental Three Year Plan
Date: May, 2009
Northeast China: Drinking Water
Date: July, 2009
Water Monitoring Technology and Instruments in China
Date: August, 2008
(Additional Research and Reports)
In addition to our in-house research services, FCS also provides a selection of both free and fee-based research directly related to the Environmental Technology sector in China.
Links to non-Commercial Service organizations are provided solely as a convenience to our users. The Commercial Service makes no representations about the accuracy or suitability of the information provided on the following web sites. The FCS is not responsible for the content of the individual organization web pages found through these links, and their inclusion here should not be understood as an endorsement of these organizations.
For Greentech market researches please click here or visit: www.china-greentech.com
Ministry of Environmental Protection
Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau
Shanghai Environment Online
U.S. Dept. of Commerce - China Environmental Market
Business and Trade Associations
Export to China
China Association of Environmental Protection Industry
China Urban Water Association
China Association of Urban Environmental Sanitation
Clean Development Mechanism in China
Cleaner Production in China
China Sustainable Energy Program
International Development Projects: World Bank Environmental
United Nations Development Program Projects in China
World Bank Projects in China
This section provides a listing of upcoming environmental events in China, including industry shows and trade missions. While FCS China is directly involved with some of these events, the others listed here have no direct relationship with the FCS and are listed solely as a convenience to our users.
For more information, please contact the organizing group as listed in the event description. Verify the information before making any commitments - we are not responsible for accuracy of information or changes in events' schedules.
Date: April 29 - May 1, 2014
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA
The 8th China (Beijing) International Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Exhibition
Date: June 8 - 11, 2014
Venue: Beijing Exhibition Center, Beijing, China
The 8th China Air Purification Technology and Equipment Expo
Date: September 16 - 18, 2014
Venue: China International Exhibition Centre (Beijing)
Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) 2014
Date: September 27 - October 1, 2014
Venue: New Orleans, LA
National Economic-Technology Development Zone Energy Conservation and Environment Protection Industrial Matchmaking Activity
Date: September28th (Sunday), 2014
Venue: Tianjin Binhai Holiday Inn lobby
For more details, please find here (hyperlink with the details)
Water Expo China + Water Membrane China
Date: December 1-3, 2014
Venue: National Convention Center Beijing, China
Back to Top
The U.S. Commercial Service offers a broad array of market entry services to U.S. exporters of environmental products, technologies and services. Please refer to this website for additional information on how we can help you expand your business in China.
For information on national regulatory policy and market opportunities in North Central China, contact
For information on water privatization and market opportunities in East China, contact
For information on market opportunities in the Pearl River Delta region, contact
For information on market opportunities in Southwest China, contact
For information on market opportunities in North China, contact
Notice to Visitors!
The link you have chosen will take you to a non-U.S. Government website.
If the page does not appear in 5 seconds, please click this: outside web site
Export.gov is managed by the International Trade Administration and
external links are covered by its website disclaimer statement.
BuyUSA.gov is managed by the International Trade Administration and
external links are covered by its website disclaimer statement.