China's Industrial Water Market

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With the introduction of the Water Pollution Action Plan, a new leader and more stringent discharge standards, the Chinese Water Market is changing. Local players and industrial clients are looking to partner with international companies to meet their changing industrial wastewater treatment needs, according to a new report from GWI.

It is estimated that capital expenditure on industrial water and wastewater treatment in China is set to increase by nearly 25% over the next five years, hitting a massive $6.8 billion in 2020.

Even though official data in China claims that 70% of its industrial wastewater is treated before discharge, experts consider that 30% is a far more realistic number. To address the issue, the government has started to take action by introducing a number of policies, promoting environmental protection at the expense of industrial profits.

April 2015 has seen an introduction of the new water pollution action plan, which restricts water abstraction in favour of its reuse, forces the worst polluters to treat their wastewater to a higher standard and gives the government the option to shut down smaller, non-compliant facilities.

“Reaching the targets outlined in the Water Action Pollution Plan will require the direct purchase of treatment products and services exceeding $230 billion and an indirect investment of $80.6 billion” The Ministry of Environmental Protection told GWI Magazine (May, 2015)

GWI’s new primary research report reveals the major industrial sectors that offer the most significant opportunities for investment in wastewater treatment: Power generation, coal-to-chemicals, refining and petrochemicals, microelectronics, and pharmaceuticals. Funding for the high-recovery wastewater treatment sector is set to grow at 9% a year to reach $114.5 million in 2020.

The booming coal-to-chemicals industry demands high-recovery wastewater treatments, as China seeks to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. Opportunities for companies with ZLD solutions and outsourcing water operations are required, with 20% of new projects expected to be procured through BOT contracts over the next five years. International players such as Aquatech and Oasys Water have already started to make their presence felt in this market.

The refining and petrochemicals industry is expected to remain the largest area of spending on water treatment, reaching $1.39 billion in 2020. Due to the more challenging treatment needs, petrochemical and fine chemical industrial parks offer the biggest opportunities for international players.

Results show that there are more than 3,300 industrial parks in China and less than half have installed centralised wastewater treatment plants. According to the new regulations, by the end of 2017 all parks without treatment plants will be closed down. The administrative committees are looking to outsource, offering EPC+O&M, pure O&M and BOT/BOO/TOT contracts.

Microelectronics and pharmaceutical industries are experiencing double digit growth offering opportunities for international expertise to achieve high water quality requirements that domestic firms are currently unable to deliver.

The biggest areas of development in terms of technology will be those that enable industrial users to treat their wastewater to a high standard: reverse osmosis, nanofiltration and membrane bioreactor systems.

Currently, the political environment for industrial polluters in China is changing.
Since the market is in need of a complete makeover, international water and wastewater companies are in high demand.

View the report page complete with full table of contents at:


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Iulia Maria Preda
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