China - Country Commercial Guide
Environmental Technology

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-02-04

Water and Wastewater Sector 

China accounts for 21% of the world’s population but only possesses 6% of the world’s freshwater. Rapid urbanization and industrialization have created enormous challenges to China’s water quality. The Chinese government’s recent increased focus on environmental protection has resulted in a revision to the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law, which has resulted in substantial demand for water and wastewater treatment technology, as outlined in a study by the Wilson Center.

Municipal Wastewater Treatment

China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2015-2020) reports that China invested $80.7 billion in its municipal wastewater treatment systems, including sewage pipeline construction and maintenance, new treatment facilities, rainwater-sewage diversion systems, sludge mitigation, reclaimed water, and initial rainfall treatment.

A report from the Chinese-language Polaris Environmental Network states that as of January 2020, China’s 10,113 wastewater treatment plants covered an estimate 95% of municipalities and 20% of rural areas. China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) will outline a strategy to invest an additional $18.5 billion in rural areas’ wastewater treatment systems.

The treatment capacity of municipal wastewater in China between 2014-2019 (in billions m3) increased from 40.6 to 53.2, while the wastewater treatment rate increased from approximately 91% to over 95%.

China municipal wastewater and treatment capacity; 2014-2019
China municipal wastewater and treatment capacity; 2014-2019

Source: Ministry of Ecology and Environment

Industrial Wastewater Treatment 

China’s National Bureau of Statistics reports China discharged 60.8 billion cubic meters of wastewater in 2019, 26% of which originated from industrial sources. As part of a national development strategy to transform into a cleaner and more sustainable economy under China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2015-2020), China plans to invest $50 billion into wastewater treatment for various heavy polluting industries, including textiles, printing, steel production, oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and pharmaceutical production.

Sludge Treatment 

In 2015, China released its Water Action Plan, which requires 90% of cities to improve their sludge treatment capacity by the end of 2020. Experts estimate that between 2021 to 2025, China will invest around $8 billion to construct and install new sludge processing facilities. China’s sludge has low organic matter but possesses high silt and heavy metal content levels. The areas with the most significant potential in this sub-sector include technologies for reducing water content in sludge, environment-friendly chemicals, high automation blending, injection equipment, and incineration technologies that are cost-effective energy-efficient.

A breakdown of the current sludge treatment applications in China ranks landfill as the primary one at 48% followed by incineration at 23%, land use at 18%, and construction materials at 11%.

Sludge Applications in China
Sludge Applications in China

Source: Overview of China Sludge Treatment Market in 2019

Trade Events

IE Expo China 2021
April 20-22, 2021, Shanghai

The China International Environmental Protection Exhibition & Conference 2021
June 2021, Beijing

Web Resources

Ministry of Ecology and Environment
Ministry of Water Resources
National Bureau of Statistics
Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development