Are your suppliers located in the water scarce and polluted areas in China? Are you concerned about the water stress may impact your suppliers’ operations and supply chains? Are you concerned that water issues in your supply chain in China may directly or indirectly affect your company’s reputation? Do you have a business strategy and management plan in place to address the emerging water crisis in China?
The availability of water has become an emergent issue in China; it is estimated that 11 provinces in China could run out of water by 2030 (source: www.chinawaterrisk.org). The 11 dry regions (Gansu, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi, Shanghai, Hebei, Ningxia, Tianjin and Beijing) are facing the challenge of not only a water crisis but also water pollution. Water use is a fundamental component in manufacturing of all products; industrial activities within the electronics, textile, mining, agriculture and food processing industries comprise 23% of all water use in China. Additionally, it is estimated that 52% of China’s manufacturing activities take place in the aforementioned water scarce areas (www.chinawaterrisk.org).
In addition to water scarcity, water quality is also deteriorating in China. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), 35% of key lakes and reservoirs in the country are considered “useless”, and are only fit for industrial or farm irrigation purposes. Another staggering fact provided by the MEP is that 77% of China’s key lakes and reservoirs are not fit for human contact and do not meet the standards for fish farming and municipal use.
On the monitoring and enforcement side of water management the situation looks equally bleak. It is alarming that of the 6,000 environmental violations of Chinese textile enterprises had been recorded in the China Water Pollution Map, a database launched by the IPEA in 2006. Only a few of the perpetrators were given administrative penalties. Many were told to rectify problems by breaching other standards; for example, discharging illegal effluent emissions via secret discharge pipes or directly pumping waste water into waterways.
So how is the Chinese Government responding to the water crisis? According to the country's 12th Five-Year Plan it intends to increase water efficiency and reduce the water use per unit of GDP. The country has also planned to hold local officials accountable for all green development. Consumers from the West and international NGOs are putting more pressure on global companies and their factories to clean up their waste streams and use less water. Likewise, some companies have started to engage with polluting factories in their supply chains.
According to the statistics from the World Bank, Chinese industries use four to 10 times more water per unit of production than industries in other industrialized countries. This shows that there is room for improvement in both production efficiency and pollution control. UL RS can help companies improve the environmental performance of manufacturing facilities, by examining and analyzing the gap; developing management systems that address responsible water use; water efficiency, water footprints, wastewater treatment and other areas of potential risk.