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Environmental Technologies

Industry Overview

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.

Water Treatment

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.

Opportunities include:

  • Quality monitoring and pollution rating systems
  • Water-saving irrigation technologies
  • Flood and Drought prevention systems
  • Water efficiency

Wastewater Treatment

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.

Opportunities include:

  • Industrial wastewater treatment and reuse
  • Municipal wastewater treatment and reuse
  • Gray water recycling
  • Sludge treatment and solutions
  • Infrastructure operations and financing
  • Industrial wastewater treatment and reuse

Air Pollution

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.

Opportunities include:

  • Portable Monitoring systems
  • Tighter restrictions on emissions
  • Industrial Process Solutions
  • Air quality control devices

Soil Remediation

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).

Opportunities include:

  • Assessment and remediation standards
  • Equipment for remediation construction
  • Specific reagent for remediation
  • Underground water treatment

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


Alternative Fuels

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

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Reports and Statistics

(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

Source: U.S. Foreign Commercial Service

Date: January, 2011

China: Bayannaoer Water Reclamation and Environment Protection Project

Source: U.S. Foreign Commercial Service

Date: November, 2010

Shanghai: Environmental Three Year Plan

Source: U.S. Foreign Commercial Service

Date: May, 2009

Northeast China: Drinking Water

Source: U.S. Foreign Commercial Service

Date: July, 2009

Water Monitoring Technology and Instruments in China

Source: U.S. Foreign Commercial Service

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


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Useful Links and Industry Contacts


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 Environment

China Sustainable Energy Program

International Development Projects: World Bank Environmental

United Nations Development Program Projects in China

World Bank Projects in China

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Major Trade Shows

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.

WasteExpo 2014

Date: April 29 - May 1, 2014

Venue: Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA

Website: http://www.wasteexpo.com

The 8th China (Beijing) International Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Exhibition

Date: June 8 - 11, 2014

Venue: Beijing Exhibition Center, Beijing, China

Website: www.enercn.com

The 8th China Air Purification Technology and Equipment Expo

Date: September 16 - 18, 2014

Venue: China International Exhibition Centre (Beijing)

Website: http://www.capexpo.cn/index.aspx

Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) 2014

Date: September 27 - October 1, 2014

Venue: New Orleans, LA

Website: www.weftec.org

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

Website: http://www.waterexpochina.com/

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U.S. Commercial Service Contacts

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

Beijing Office:
Tel: (86-10)8531-3000
Fax: (86-10)8531-3701

Mei-Hwa Biers

Jay Biggs

Jiangyao Zhang

For information on water privatization and market opportunities in East China, contact

Shanghai Office:
Tel: (86-21)6279-7630
Fax: (86-21)6279-7639

Sophia Chen

For information on market opportunities in the Pearl River Delta region, contact

Guangzhou Office:
Tel: (86-20)3814-5000
Fax: (86-20)3814-5310

Cathy Wang

Jericho Li

For information on market opportunities in Southwest China, contact

Chengdu Office:
Tel: (86-28)8558-3992
Fax: (86-28)8558-3991

Mengyue Xu

For information on market opportunities in North China, contact

Shenyang Office:
Tel: (86-24)2322-1198
Fax: (86-24)2322-2206

Yang Liu

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RN-China-Environmental Handbook-070811
RN-China-DC CGI-031411
Energy and Environmental Update

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