Insights|Strictly implement the action plan for the treatment of new pollutants and accelerate the green development of petrochemical industry

The general office of the State Council issued the Action Plan for New Pollutants Treatment (hereinafter referred to as the action plan), which puts forward control objectives and action measures around new pollutants of widespread concern at home and abroad. The action plan proposes to adopt the overall working ideas of “screening, evaluation and control” and “prohibition, reduction and treatment”, carry out environmental risk screening and assessment, dynamically release the list of key controlled new pollutants, take environmental risk control measures such as prohibition, restriction and emission restriction, and implement source control, process control and end-of-the-line comprehensive treatment of new pollutants.

New pollutants, in most cases, come from the production and use of toxic and hazardous chemicals, and they have common properties such as biological toxicity, environmental persistence, and bioaccumulation. Mr. Ren Yong, the Director of the Department of Solid Waste and Chemicals, Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), said in response to media queries – “There are four major types of new pollutants of international concern, i.e., persistent organic pollutants, endocrine disruptors, antibiotics and microplastics controlled by international conventions”. Such pollutants pose risks to the environment and human health but are not effectively treated in the country.

It was made clear in the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and Vision 2035 of the People’s Republic of China that a bigger focus shall be placed on the treatment of new pollutants. The Plan prescribes that special treatment actions will be taken against a batch of new pollutants during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), with a long-term treatment mechanism to be established.

In addition, pilot projects for new pollutant treatment will be conducted in selected enterprises and industrial parks in the Yangtze River basin, Yellow River basin, key drinking water sources, and key estuaries and bays.

Notably, a number of hazard testing laboratories with adherence to Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) will be developed, as well as the National Chemical Substance Environmental Risk Management Information System and the Chemical Substances Computational Toxicology and Exposure Prediction Platform.

The Plan covers not only industrial chemicals but also antibiotic medicines and pesticides. Pesticides of high efficiency and low risk will be put more attention to, and the persistent bio-accumulative and toxic substance (PBT), very persistent very bio-accumulative (vPvB), and adjuvants will be gradually phased out and replaced.

The action plan puts forward new requirements for the petrochemical and chemical industry to accelerate the green substitution of toxic and harmful substances and reduce the emission of new pollutants. It is an important measure to improve the green manufacturing level of the petrochemical and chemical industry and increase the effective supply of green products. It is also an effective measure to promote the supply side structural reform and promote the structural adjustment and transformation of the industry, It is an inevitable requirement for the petrochemical industry to realize the coordination between green high-quality development and high-level ecological environment protection. It is the unshirkable mission and responsibility of the petrochemical industry to actively plan for the treatment of new pollutants, actively implement the measures of the action plan, and reduce the generation and emission of new pollutants. The whole industry will strictly implement the requirements of the action plan, actively fulfill social responsibilities, and continue to promote green and sustainable development.

Source: MEE