China China announces Action Plan on Controlling New Pollutants

The first list of key regulated new pollutants is expected to be released in 2022

China announces Action Plan on Controlling New Pollutants

On May 24, the General Office of the State Council of China announced an Action Plan on Controlling New Pollutants.

As its objectives, the plan aims by 2025 to screen chemicals of high concern produced (used) in large quantities for environmental risks, continuously update a list of key regulated new pollutants after releasing the first edition in 2022, and take environmental risk management measures, including bans, restrictions and discharge limits on key regulated new pollutants. Its other goal is to develop in phases legal systems and frameworks for managing the environmental risks of toxic and hazardous chemicals to control new pollutants strictly.

The action plan intends to implement pilot projects for new pollutants control in some areas, including the Yangtze River basin, as well as in some industries, such as petrochemical and paint and coating; encourage companies to carry out pilot projects for reducing new pollutants generation and discharge in cities that meet certain criteria; and impose limits on the amount of key regulated new pollutants in products.

Description of new pollutants in the action plan

New pollutants are described in the plan as follows:

The production and use of toxic and hazardous chemicals are the main sources of contaminants of emerging concern. New pollutants currently drawing domestic and international attention include persistent organic pollutants, endocrine disruptors and antibiotics regulated by international agreements.

The plan doesn’t provide names or any other details of new pollutants.

Regulatory measures on key regulated new pollutants

  • Implement substance-specific regulations and develop or revise relevant discharge standards for the chemicals on the List of Prioritized Regulated Chemicals as well as other key new pollutants, including antibiotics and microplastics.
  • Continuously update lists of toxic and hazardous air pollutants, toxic and hazardous water pollutants and key regulated toxic and hazardous substances in soil.
  • Release the first edition of the List of Key Regulated New Pollutants in 2022 and continuously update it.
  • Dynamically introduce regulatory measures to manage environmental risks, including bans, restrictions and discharge limits on key regulated new pollutants.

Measures for pilot projects

  • Implement pilot projects for new pollutants control in key companies and industrial parks selected from areas such as the Yangtze and Yellow river basins, key drinking water source areas, key estuaries, key seaports, key seawater aquaculture zones, Beijing city, Tianjin city and Hebei province, and the Yangtze and Pearl River deltas as well as industries such as petrochemical, paint and coating, textile, textile printing, rubber, agrochemical and pharmaceutical.
  • Through these projects, establish model technologies to replace toxic and hazardous chemicals with environmentally conscious substances, reduce new pollutants discharge, and control new pollutants in wastewater, sludge, effluents and residual waste.
  • Introduce incentive policies in cities that meet certain criteria to encourage companies to implement projects for reducing new pollutants generation and discharge.

Regulatory measures on the amount of key regulated new pollutants in products

  • Set limits on the amount of key regulated new pollutants in products as mandatory national standards for relevant products, such as toys and school products, and oversee their implementation strictly to reduce new pollutants generated from the consumption of those products and released into the environment.
  • Incorporate content limits and bans on key regulated CPECs in the standards, certification systems and labeling systems of environmental label products and green products; display new pollutants information and cautions on the certified environmental label of important consumer goods.

 

Full details of the action plan (in Chinese) are available at
http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2022-05/24/content_5692059.htm

 

NOTE:
The plan newly published does not provide any information on substances to be regulated. On the other hand, a draft plan released on October 11, 2021, showed some candidate substances, such as PFOA, dechlorane plus and formaldehyde. These chemicals are highly possibly to be regulated in the near future, so see more details in the following:
China releases draft plan for new chemical pollutants management

 

* Here is an English Version (not official) translated by EnviX

新污染物治理行动方案
Action Plan on Controlling New Pollutants

Production and utilization of toxic and hazardous chemicals are the main sources of new pollutants. New pollutants that have currently drawn extensive attentions locally and internationally mainly include organic pollutants, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and antibiotics. These pollutants are regulated by international conventions. The Action Plan was formulated to fully implement the decision and deployment proposed by the Party Central Committee and the State Council, and strengthen the control of new pollutants to protect the ecological environment and people’s wellness.

 

1. Overall Requirements

(I) Guiding Ideology.

This concept is guided by Xi Jinping Idea on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. It adheres to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China as well as its plenary sessions. The Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization will be implemented deeply based on the development of new phases, and the new development concept will be fully accurately and comprehensively explored to build a new development landscape and promote high-quality development. The life-cycle management concept on environmental risk will be followed, to improve management of new pollutant environmental risks comprehensively with effective prevention on environment and reduction of the health risk resulting from new pollutant as the core objectives. In addition, targeted and scientific governance on pollutants in accordance with the law will be used as guidelines to minimize the impact of these pollutants. Surveys and evaluation will be conducted, classified governance and whole-process management and control on environmental risks will be ensured, as well as strengthen the institution and scientific technology on pollution management. Moreover, the new governance system on new pollutants will be improved, which will help to protect the blue skies, clear waters and clean lands as well as enhance the construction level of a beautiful and healthy China.

(II) Working Principles

——Scientific evaluation and targeted approaches. Effective methods will be designed for inspection of chemicals, scientific evaluation of environmental risks and identification to new pollutants with high environmental risk. Management and control approaches covering the whole process of pollutant emission such as setting limits on the source, minimizing emission and treatment of pollutants will be implemented to minimize environmental pollution.

——Comprehensive control and systematic improvement. The exclusive governance guidelines on a batch of strictly controlled new pollutants were proposed during the 14th Five-year Plan. The long-term governance approaches of new pollutants have been systematically established through a complete governance system with various methods, to promote the collaborative governance on multi-environmental media such as air, water and soil.

——Establishment of robust system and improvement of relevant processes. A robust management and technological system will be established. The rule of law will be strengthened and a cross-department coordination mechanism will be designed. In addition, the support from scientific technology will be reinforced, basic processes will be improved and promotion and guidance will be enhanced, to promote the joint governance mechanism by the entire society.

(III) Major target

By 2025, complete the environmental risk screening of chemical substances of high concern and high production or high consumption, and complete the environmental risk assessment of a batch of chemical substances. Moreover, the list of new pollutants subject to priority controls will be issued, and environmental risk management approaches to effectively control the new pollutants such as setting bans, limiting production and emission-reduction will be advocated. Legal and institutional systems on the environmental risk of toxic and hazardous chemicals and management mechanism will be established, as well as a significant improvement of governance systems on new pollutants.

 

2. Actions and Approaches

(I) Improve regulations and establish a sound new pollutant control system.

  1. Strengthen the construction of laws and regulations system. Studies will be conducted to formulate environmental risk management regulations for toxic and hazardous chemicals. Diverse regulations will be established and improved including environmental information research on chemicals, evaluation and monitoring of the chemicals in the environment, environmental risk assessment, environmental risk management and control, environmental management registration of new chemicals, and environmental risk effects of importation and exportation of toxic chemicals. Moreover, the link between relevant regulations on pesticides, veterinary drugs, medicines and cosmetics, and relevant regulations on environmental risk management of toxic and hazardous chemicals will be strengthened.
  2. Construct a comprehensive technological standard system. Environmental risk assessment of chemicals and technological standard system of management and control will be conducted. In addition, other methods for regulation of chemicals such as environmental risk assessment, analysis of economic and social effect and testing methods of hazardous chemicals will be formulated and improved. Moreover, the environment monitoring technological system of new pollutants will be improved.
  3. Establish and improve the control and management mechanism of new pollutants. An across-department coordination mechanism will be established, which is led by the ecological environment department, and operated by various departments, such as development and reform department, science and technology department, industry and information department, finance department, housing and urban-rural development department, agriculture and rural affairs department, commerce department, health department, customs administration, market regulation administration as well as drug products administration, to promote the management of new pollutants coordinately. Strengthen joint investigations, joint law enforcement, and information sharing among departments, and strengthen the coordination of laws, regulations, systems, and standards. The management mechanism of governance on new pollutants will be improved and the territorial responsibility for new pollutant control will be fully implemented according to the principle stated by the nation, administered by provincial government and operated by the municipal government. In addition, expert committee of new pollutant governance will be formulated to strengthen the technical support for governance on new pollutants.

(II) Conduct surveys and inspections to assess the environmental risk of new pollutants.

  1. Establish an environmental information survey system of chemicals. Basic information survey on chemicals, including important chemicals utilized in key industries in terms of category, quality, and application, will be conducted. The detailed information survey on chemicals included in the environmental risk priority assessment plan will include aspects such as production, process, utilization, environmental emission quantity and channels, and hazardous characteristics. The basic information survey on the first batch of chemicals and detailed information survey of chemicals listed in the environmental risk priority assessment plan will be completed by the end of 2023.
  2. Establish an environmental survey and monitoring system of new pollutants. A specific approach on environmental survey and monitoring of new pollutants will be enacted and implemented. The pilot of new pollutant environment survey and monitoring will start in key areas, key industries and typical industrial parks based on the existing ecological environment monitoring network. Moreover, technological methods for the environment survey, monitoring and health hazard assessment of new pollutant in groundwater will be formulated. The preliminary environment survey and monitoring system of new pollutants will be established by the end of 2025.
  3. Establish and environmental risk assessment system of chemicals. Studies on formulating an environmental risk screening and assessment approach for chemicals will be conducted, and a database of these chemicals will be established. Assessment of the environment and health hazards as well as risk screening will be launched with chemicals with high pollution risk, high production or consumption, high detection rate in environment and diverse applications prioritized. The environmental risk priority assessment plan of chemicals and priority controlled chemical list will be formulated dynamically based on changing trends of the pollutants. The first batch of environmental risk priority assessment plan of chemicals will be released by the end of 2022.
  4. Released the list of new pollutants subject to priority controls dynamically. Management and control approaches comprising “one strategy for one product” will be formulated for chemicals, listed in the list of new pollutants subject to priority controls, antibiotics, micro-plastics and other key new pollutants. Technological feasibility and economic and social effect assessment of management and control approaches will be conducted. This will help in identification of the major environmental emission source of chemicals subject to priority control, formulation and improvement of timely emission standards for related industries, and dynamically upgrading the list of toxic and hazardous environmental pollutants, toxic and hazardous water pollutants and strictly controlled toxic and hazardous soil substances. Further, the list of new pollutants subject to priority controls as well as relevant management and control approaches such as setting bans, limits and emission-reduction will be dynamically published. The list of new pollutants subject to priority controls will be released in 2022. Local governments are encouraged to conduct environment information survey, environment information monitoring and environmental risk assessment for chemicals in accordance with national standard and guidelines in advance. And also encourage local government to formulate the supplementary list and management as well as control approaches for the new pollutants subject to priority controls based on local circumstances, and establish and improve relevant local policies and standards.

(III) Strictly conduct the management and control of the emission sources to prevent the generation of new pollutants.

  1. Fully implement the environment management registration system of new chemicals. The Methods for Environment Management Registration of New Chemicals guidelines will be strictly adhered to, and enterprises will be urged to fulfill the major responsibilities as the main units responsible for management and control of environmental risk. Supervision on environment management registration of new chemicals will be reinforced, and a supervision mechanism of testing data for registration will be established, which can be used for inspection of the quality of testing data on site and publishing of results. A synergetic supervision and enforcement mechanism with joint efforts from the state and local government will be established, that incorporates environmental management of new chemicals into the annual working plan of environmental management and increase penalties for illegal companies, according to the principle of “double randomness and one publicity” (during the supervision process, randomly select inspection objects, randomly select law enforcement inspectors, and disclose the results of random inspections and investigations to the public timely). The environmental management cohesion between new chemicals and existing chemicals will be consolidated, and the List of Existing Chemicals in China will be regularly updated.
  2. Strictly implement the elimination or restriction approaches. Bans and limits on production, process, consumption, importation and exportation of new pollutants subject to priority controls will be set in accordance with the requirements stipulated in the list. Studies will be conducted to revise the Guidance Catalog for Industrial Structure Adjustment, for industrial chemicals, pesticides, veterinary drugs, medicines and cosmetics included into the Elimination Category of the Guidance Catalog production registration and production license issuance will be stopped through legal processes. The environmental impact assessment management will be enhanced, and construction projects involved with new pollutants will be strictly supervised. Include chemicals prohibited from import and export into the list of prohibited import (export) commodity, and the management and control on import and export of these chemicals will be improved. Chemicals that have strictly restricted application will be included in the List of Strictly Restricted Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals in China, and the environment management on import and export of these chemicals will be intensified. Moreover, illegal production, processing and consumption of eliminated permanent organic pollutants will be stopped in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.
  3. Strengthen the content control of new pollutants subject to priority controls in products. For the new pollutants subject to content control, the content control requirements will be included into the compulsory national standards for related products such as toys and products for students, and will be strictly implemented and supervised to reduce emission of the new pollutants to the environment during consumption. Limit and prohibition requirements of new pollutants subject to priority controls will be incorporated into the standard, certification and labeling system of environment mark products and green products. The new pollutants subject to priority controls will be marked during the attestation of environment mark of important consumer goods.

(IV) Strengthen the process control to reduce the emission of new pollutants.

  1. Strengthen clean production and green manufacturing. Compulsory green production audit for enterprises that utilize toxic and hazardous chemicals for production or discharge toxic and hazardous chemicals during production will be implemented, and promote production transformation. Enterprises will publish toxic and hazardous raw materials used during production and relevant information of discharged toxic and hazardous chemicals such as name, concentration, and quantity in a way that is effectively understood by the public. Moreover, substitution and emission control of toxic and hazardous chemicals will be promoted to incorporate into the standard system of green manufacturing such as green product, green industrial park, green plant and green supply chain.
  2. Standardize the utilization and management of antibiotics. Study the environmental risk assessment system of antimicrobial drugs, and carry out environmental hazard assessment of antimicrobial drugs in the registration process of veterinary antimicrobial drugs. Management of clinical application of antibiotics will be reinforced and regulated through sale of prescription antibiotics only based on medical prescription in retail pharmacies. Relevant authorities will strengthen the supervision of veterinary antimicrobial drugs, implement consumption reduction, and promote the sales on veterinary prescriptions.
  3. Improve the management of pesticides utilization. Management of pesticide registration will be reinforced, and environmental risk monitoring and re-assessment mechanisms conducted after registration will be improved. Highly toxic and highly risky pesticides as well as adjuvants with permanent environmental effects, biological accumulative and other characteristics will be effectively controlled. The batch of highly toxic and highly risky pesticides will be re-evaluated by the end of 2025. Campaigns for reduction of use of pesticides will be frequently launched, and the use of pesticides with high efficacy and low pollution risk will be encouraged, and the elimination and substitution of highly toxic and risky pesticides will be promoted. Producers are encouraged to use recyclable packaging with large capacity, and packaging waste of pesticides will be recycled and disposed in an effective way.

(V) Deepen terminal treatment and reduce environmental risk of new pollutant.

  1. Improve the collaborative governance of multi-environmental media on new pollutants. Environmental management of toxic and hazardous air pollutants and water pollutants will be intensified, and relevant technological regulations for pollution governance and control will be enacted. Businesses that emit new pollutants subject to priority controls shall take pollution control measures to meet the relevant emission standards and requirements of environmental quality targets. Pollutant emission permit shall be applied through a legal process and registration forms shall be filled according to the relevant requirements of pollutant emission permit management. The pollution control standards implemented and control approaches adopted shall be clarified during the application and filling process. Business that emission new pollutants subject to priority controls shall conduct regular environment monitoring of the pollutant emission outlets and assess the environmental risks according to the relevant regulations and stipulations. In addition, they shall screen and take control of hidden hazards that pose environmental risk, disclosure the information of new pollutants in accordance with the law, and use appropriate methods to prevent environmental risks. Businesses subject to priority controls for soil pollution shall strictly control the emission of toxic and hazardous substances, and establish a screening system of soil pollution to prevent leakage, loss and spread of toxic and hazardous substances. Moreover, businesses that produce, process, utilize or discharge the chemicals listed in the list of new pollutants subject to priority controls will be included into the list of key pollution emission units.
  2. Reinforce the collection, utilization and disposal of waste containing specific new pollutants. The requirements on collection, utilization and disposal of waste such as medical waste, pesticide waste and liquor waste, reaction base waste and waste culture medium generated during the production of antibiotics will be strictly reinforced. Study the testing methods, as well as evaluate technical standards and pollutant utilization and treatment technical standards for waste containing specific new pollutants.
  3. Conduct pilot projects to improve management of new pollutants. Select a batch of key enterprises and industrial parks of petrochemical, coating, textile printing and dyeing, rubber, pesticide, pharmaceutical located in in areas such as Yangtze River basin, Yellow River Basin, key drinking water sources as well as the surrounding areas, key estuaries, key bays, key marine aquaculture zones, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Area, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta, to carry out the pilot projects of new pollutant treatment, and develop demonstrative technologies such as green substitution for toxic and hazardous chemicals, emission-reduction of new pollutants and new pollutant governance on sewage, sludge, waste liquid and residue. Encourage advanced places to formulate incentive policies to encourage businesses to reduce the generation and emission of new pollutants.

(VI) Strengthen capacity building and consolidate the foundation of new pollutants control.

  1. Enhance support from scientific research and techniques. Scientific techniques and research on new pollutant governance in national scientific technology plan will be enhanced. Environmental risk assessment of toxic and hazardous chemicals and key technological research on management and control of pollutants will be conducted. Researches on new theories will be conducted and techniques related to new pollutants will be developed to promote innovation. Furthermore, studies on the mechanism of action of ecological and environmental risks such as antibiotics and micro-plastics will be conducted. Key national laboratories in the environmental field will be established to conduct related researches on new pollutants and integrate existing resources.
  2. Improve basic capacity construction. Supervision, enforcement and monitoring of management of new pollutants at the national and local level will be reinforced. In addition, environmental risk assessment of chemicals at river basins and maritime areas will be conducted and technological support approaches for environmental monitoring of new pollutant will be explored. A national chemical environmental risk management information system, as well as a chemical toxicology calculation and exposure prediction platform will be established. High-quality laboratories which meet the operation standards and conduct chemical risk tests will be established, and the construction of relevant professional expert teams and specific training will be strengthened to improve management of new pollutants.

 

3. Safeguard Measures

(I) Strengthen the leadership on pollutant management.

The overall leadership of Party to governance undertaking on new pollutants will be adhered to. Governments at all levels will strengthen the leadership of the organization to promote management of new pollutants. Moreover, provincial governments will act as the main institutions to organize implementation of the current Action Plan. The local governance scheme on new pollutants will be enacted by the end of 2022, with its aim and tasks refined and effectively outline. In addition, responsibilities for each department will be defined and detailed work will be conducted. Departments of the State Council will embrace collaboration and make joint contribution to management of new pollutant. Achievements of the current Action Plan will be assessed by 2025, and ecological environment problems related to management of pollutants will be included in the ecological environment conservation inspection of the Party Central Committee.

(II) Strengthen supervision and law enforcement.

Businesses will be supervised and urged to fulfill their responsibilities. In addition, national and local governance requirements on new pollutants will be strictly implemented. Inspection on enforcement of emission of strictly controlled new pollutants and environment monitoring of key areas will be enhanced. Furthermore, enterprises that fail to practice environmental risk management approaches will be regulated. Moreover, strengthen the supervision and enforcement of the production, processing, use, import and export of prohibited and restricted toxic and hazardous chemicals and their related products.

(III) Broaden capital investment channels.

The social capital will be encouraged to enter the new pollutant treatment field. Financial institutions will be guided to promote the credit support for treatment of new pollutants. Additionally, new pollutant treatment can highly benefit from preferential tax policies according to relevant stipulations.

(IV) Strengthen the publicity and guidance.

Promotion and interpretation of stipulations and policies will be enhanced. Scientific publicity and education of new pollutant treatment will be conducted. The public will be guided to understand the environmental risk of new pollutants and a green consumption concept will be advocated. In addition, the public will be encouraged to report violations and crimes causing harm to the environment by new pollutants through various channels, and give full play to supervision by public opinion. Authorities at the international level will actively participate in international environmental conventions on chemicals and international chemical environmental management actions, and play an active role in global environmental protection.