As China’s economic development enters a new phase, resources and environment sustainability are becoming a priority of the government and the people. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, the national fiscal expenditure on environmental protection in 2018 was 635.275 billion yuan, an increase of nearly 2.3 times over ten years, and the government expenditure on environmental services as a % of the total fiscal expenditure has also increased year over year.
Starting from 2016, environmental protection policies, green taxation, and other environmental “strict supervision” have become the new normal. Since the 19th National Congress, China has implemented the strictest ecological and environmental systems and with no signs of loosening in sight.
From the wastes output perspective, China’s hazardous waste output has surpassed that of the entire European Union; but the country’s overall level of sophistication on environmental technology is seriously lagging. As a result, China’s environmental protection efficiency is far lower than that of the EU countries.
With the support of state capital, large environmental companies have begun overseas acquisitions, however with no obvious economic benefits of upgrading and transformation through the technology introduction felt. The difficulty for direct application of overseas technologies, the lack of acquisition benefits, and the lack of matching operation and management support are among the reasons.
Chinese government and the industry have invested a lot of resources in response to the rapid growth of industrial wastes. As of 2018, a total of 3,220 industrial waste business licenses were issued nationwide, with an approved annual treatment capacity of 102.12 million tons. The actual disposal volume in the same year was only 25.99 million tons. The operational efficiency of abandoned projects is low. Per Eurostat, the capacity utilization rate of 28 EU countries in 2016 was about 85%. Conversely, the actual treatment volume in 2018 published by the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment in 2019 and the cumulative industrial waste disposal capacity issued by the current year used to calculate the capacity utilization rate resulted in a capacity utilization rate of 25%, far behind the European level. Low-capacity utilization rate indicates that many industrial waste disposal projects have not yet released capacity.
Due to the growth of industrial development in China, industrial solid wastes had been piled up and dumped on the soil surface and watersheds, and have continuously penetrated the soil and watersheds, causing harmful gases and floating dust in the atmosphere which circled back on the soil with rainwater. In the river basin, through the joint action of these pollution sources, contaminated sites and water sources are created. In terms of soil pollution, it is estimated that there are 2 million acres of industrial sites in the country that need to be repaired. Regarding watershed pollution, according to the National Surface Water Quality Monthly Report 2019 (July) released by the China Environmental Monitoring Center, within the country’s top seven key river basins, the total length of rivers with poor water quality, namely Grade V, that are most polluted, amounted to 11,028.57 kilometers, accounting for 6.08% of the total river length in the key river basins. Faced with these serious pollution problems, the state issued action plans such as the "Ten Articles of Soil" and "Ten Articles of Water" during the "Thirteenth Five-Year Plan" period, spanning from 2016 to 2020. Environmental services companies have responded to the call, and soil remediation and watershed management actions have been rapidly carried out throughout the country.