Chinese Key Environmental Policy: Neglected "Ten Standard Plan" 【For free】

Groundwater treatment VOCs Industrial wastewater

Introduction:  “Water Ten”, “Air Ten” and “Soil Ten” are the three main parts of the “Ten Standard Plan”. Almost all  environmental employees know that the “Ten Standard Plan” has been made a national top-level environmental project during the 13th Five-Year Plan. After the successive introduction of the “Ten Standard Plan”, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has also made some corresponding adjustments in its internal organizational structure. Setting up new departments for the implementation of the “Ten Standard Plan” shows that the “Ten Standard Plan” is quite significant.


Figure I Constitution and Plan of China's Environmental Protection Standard System

In April 2017, the Ministry of Environmental Protection issued another plan that is no less significant than the “Ten Standard Plan”. However, this plan is less concerned than the “Ten Standard Plan”. We call this plan the neglected "Ten Standard Plan". The full name of this plan is "13th Five-year Plan for Development of National Environmental Protection Standards". This plan shows new standards in various fields (including environmental quality standards, emission standards, technical specifications, technical guidelines, etc.) which will be issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection during the 13th Five-Year Plan period. It has a good guiding value for the future trend of environmental protection policies. For example, "Soil Technical Guidelines of Environmental Impact Assessment" (Draft for comment) is the content involved in the plan. Considering that there will continue to be policies issued in accordance with this neglected plan in the future, Umore Cleantech Consulting considers it necessary to make an in-depth analysis of this policy in the first monthly report.

Umore Cleantech Consulting believes that "13th Five-year Plan for Development of National Environmental Protection Standards" is regarded as a new “Ten Standard Plan”, and is worthy of the name. If water treatment enterprises are familiar with this “Ten Standard Plan”, they could easily make a forward preparation for the issued standards in the coming future. It will help environmental companies to seize the opportunities in the competition. Therefore, Umore Cleantech Consulting will focus this “Ten Standard Plan” on the key points through analysis and refinement. See below. 

Standard system and overall goal

Judging from the number of new issued standards, the 13th Five-Year period is far beyond the 12th five-year period. More importantly, a series of new trends have emerged in the standard work of the 13th Five-year Plan period. At first, the implementation of the 30 key standards will be evaluated to guide the revision of relevant standards. Some unreasonable standards that limit the development of the industry will be expected to change. The focus of new standards and revisions will be important basic standards such as environmental quality standards, pollutant emission standards, environmental foundation standards, etc. The subdivision market of environmental soil remediation and agriculture pollution prevention will be dependent on the new rules of the game (standard). It is not difficult to predict that the large number of new standards issuance and revision will have a significant impact on the environmental protection industry and market from the middle of 13th Five-Year to 14th Five-Year.

Development and revision of environmental quality standards


Analysis: With regard to environmental quality standards, there are seven items that need the attention of water treatment companies: four standard revisions and three new issued standards.

Among them, the surface water environmental quality standard is the most important basic standard in the field of water environment governance. Needless to say, its revision is quite important. The new standards issued during the 14th Five-Year Plan period will last a time span of 20 years. It is expected that the revision of the new standard will cover more pollutant indicators, especially the POPs pollutants related to the eco-environmental safety. The related monitoring and testing equipment and governance service will be benefited by this policy.

In addition, the change of the environmental quality management systems from cities to rural areas is the general trend. In order to ensure food safety, the revision of farmland irrigation and fishery water quality standards will undoubtedly become more and more strict. In the past, almost no treatment of rural agricultural production water will be improved in the areas where conditions are favorable. Simple sewage treatment equipment with easy maintenance will be benefited by this policy.

The issue of technical guidelines for the assessment of the ecological environmental quality in coastal waters and the seawater quality standards will focus the attention to the sea water areas that have been neglected in the past. The water restoration and protection of coastal cities may become the new service contents in the new PPP project package. This subdivision market will not be too large. But the technology of freshwater ecological restoration may not be applicable to this market. If one company develops relevant technologies and establishes targeted service in advance, it will occupy a very large advantage in the market competition.

Development and revision of environmental quality standards


In the four years from 2017 to 2020, more than 20 industrial sectors will establish special sewage discharge standards. The integrated wastewater discharge standards will no longer be applied. For the pollution companies and the environmental companies that provide sewage treatment services for these pollution companies, the issuing of new standards is equivalent to raising the integrated wastewater discharge standards. As a result, the sewage treatment requirements in these 20 industrial sectors will be improved. The demand for products and services of third-party commissioned operations for industrial sewage treatment and upgrading of industrial water treatment will increase.

In detail, the issue and revision of these industrial standards can be roughly divided into three categories.

The first category is the integrated wastewater discharge standard, i.e. the revision of the integrated wastewater discharge standard (GB8978-1996) that has been applied for more than 20 years: Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei key river basin water pollution discharge standard. These standards cover a wide range of the society and are relevant to industrial water treatment companies. The revision of the integrated wastewater discharge standard (GB8978-1996) will force a lot of old and outdated industrial water treatment equipment and processes to be eliminated. The issue of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei key river basin water pollution discharge standard will undoubtedly lead to the high demand for advanced industrial wastewater treatment in key river basins in North China. The increase in water quality requirements will raise the cost baseline for the construction and operation of industrial water treatment facilities. The acceptance and popularity of more advanced water treatment processes such as membrane water treatment will increase.

The second category is the new standard for the “old industry”. The “old industry” here refers to the industrial sector that has a mature, stable, large-scale main part and slow technological innovation. It is also a common customer for existing wastewater treatment companies. These industrial sectors include thermal power, soda ash, pesticides, food processing, coal chemical industry, etc. From the perspective of policy makers, the main reason for the issue of new emission standards is to raise the overall level of industrial wastewater treatment in order to meet the environmental management needs in the new stage of China. In addition, there is the purpose of the implementation for pollutant discharge license system. Umore Cleantech Consulting believes that these traditional and old industries have entered a stable period. Their increments are small and the demand for water treatment service has already achieved a considerable degree of saturation. Standards upgrading policies will surely stimulate the water treatment market, but the increase in sewage treatment demand will still be relatively limited by policy. Relevant companies should not make excessive investment with erroneous judgments in order to pursue the bonus policy. It is even more important to pay attention to certain advancement of technical reserves in order to prevent loss of technical advantages or pollution incidents caused by the project's wastewater problems.

The third category is to define the rules of the game for the “new industry”. The “new industry” here refers to the industrial sector in the early and middle stages of its life cycle, where it has more investment opportunities, a small-scale main part, faster growth and the faster technological innovation. These industrial sectors include shale gas exploitation, cosmetics, electronics, livestock and poultry breeding, etc. For these industrial areas, the 20-year-old integrated emission standard is not applicable. Therefore, it is reasonable to formulate special emission standards. In fact, the companies in these fields are not the main customers of the current water treatment companies. With development, these companies have the potential for water treatment demand. In other words, they will become more and more important customers of water treatment companies in the future. Compared with capital-based companies such as Beijing Capital Co.,Ltd and Beijing Enterprises Water Group Limited , Technical industrial water treatment companies should take a reserve of technologies and talents  with a fast strategic layout and high execution in order to occupy a competitive market position.

Analysis of policy opportunities

More than one-third of the nearly 1,000 newly issued standards and revisions are related to environmental remediation, which shows that work in the field of remediation is one of the major focuses of the environmental protection department from the mid 13th five-year period to the early 14th five-year period. Environmental remediation is the business that water treatment companies focus on. Compared to industrial and municipal water businesses, there is still great market space for water treatment companies to improve. Therefore, water treatment enterprises should study, analyze and comply with relevant policies.

In fact, the relevant pre-issued standards or revisions for the environmental remediation contain business development opportunities.

We should take the example of a pre-issued environmental monitoring standard in the “Ten Standard Plan”. In 2018, the “Technical Guidelines for Soil and Groundwater of Contaminated Sites in VOCs” will be published. The soil operation specification, procedural requirements and related technical standards for VOCs will be ruled. Although soil and groundwater VOCs in contaminated sites are a minor part in the implementation of environmental remediation projects, VOCs emission control in contaminated sites and non-disturbance sampling process are the key point of project evaluation, management and evaluation. More importantly, local environmental bureaus have put a lot of emphasis on the management of VOCs in order to prevent the recurrence of “Changzhou Foreign Languages School” poisoning incidents and minimize the disruption of remediation projects to residential areas (to avoid group events). In fact, from the practical experience of Umore Cleantech Consulting’s own international environmental technology service project, the management of VOCs is one of the technologies companies are most concerned with. (Well-known remediation companies once commissioned Umore Cleantech Consulting to find contaminated site VOCs control technology)

As a result, Umore Cleantech Consulting has determined that for remediation companies, the contaminated sites and groundwater VOCs control and detecting/monitoring technologies involved in this standard will be very important key technologies. In particular, the issue of the standard will rule the sampling of VOCs, and the demand for the related equipment products will greatly increase.

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