China Water Risk (CWR): We are pleased to see that the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) and HSBC initiated the HSBC Water Programme for Industrial Water Management. Could you give our readers a bit more background of this programme and what do you expect to achieve through this programme?
Anthony Ma (AM): Securing the supply of clean water is a huge and growing global challenge. It is under strain from population growth, urban development industrialization and climate change. Since clean water supply security is vital to building healthy communities and developing national economies, HSBC has developed the HSBC Water Programme (2012-2016) to provide financial support to global communities to strengthen measures to safeguard the water resources.
“In Southern China, intensive industrial activities contribute to freshwater depletion and regional pollution of water bodies in surrounding areas.”
In Southern China, intensive industrial activities contribute to freshwater depletion and regional pollution of water bodies in surrounding areas. In order to help major water-consuming industries to achieve better water management covering water conservation and proper treatment and disposal, Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) with the support from various trade and industry associations will implement “HSBC Water Programme for Industrial Water Management” which is fully funded by HSBC as part of its global Water Programme.
CWR: We participated one introductory seminar held in Guangzhou in May. Lots of factory representatives turned up and showed great interest in this programme. What are the selection criteria? How will you review the applications?
AM: This HSBC Water Programme for Industrial Water Management focuses on three industries: electronics, metal finishing, and textile & leather. Application will be open to all factories but with priority given to Hong Kong companies which are operating factories either in Hong Kong or Guangdong.
“(This programme) focuses on three industries: electronics, metal finishing, and textile & leather….We adopt a marking scheme to evaluate applications and rank the factories.”
Companies with factories from other industry sectors may also apply. Acceptance of these companies to the Programme will, however, be subject to the consideration of the Programme Secretariat on a case-by-case basis. You can find the detailed selection considerations on the website of this programme (click here).
We set up a review panel comprised of trade associations of the three targeted industries in Hong Kong, HSBC and Hong Kong Productivity Council. We adopt a marking scheme to evaluate applications and rank the factories.
CWR: What’s the current status of the programme? What kind of support will the programme provide?
AM: This programme will cater 36 factories by providing general water management assistance. We will review their water usages and wastewater discharges, identify improvement areas in the water management, and then formulate detailed improvement plans. This could help them optimize major water usages and reduce wastewater discharges and wastages, rectify inappropriate operational practices and enhance wastewater treatment and recycling processes.
The programme caters for 36 factories; but 6 will be offered in-depth assessment….
…a best practices water management manual will be compiled.
On top of that, we will select 6 factories out of the 36 factories and offer in-depth technical assistance. It will include preliminary designs of some selected improvement measures and also helping the factories to plan those measures.
Moreover, we will also compile a water management manual for the water consuming industries which will include the best water management practices and practical improvement measures. In addition, a helpdesk will be set up to provide general enquiry about the Programme and industrial water management, and also a website to provide information of events and application.
Currently we have received 27 applications, 11 of which are from textile and leather companies. After preliminary assessment and evaluation, 10 factories (including 4 textile factories) are selected into the first round. We have started conducting site visits to these factories.
CWR: In addition to the above mentioned technical assistance to the participating factories, does this programme also include other activities to promote responsible industrial water management?
AM: Yes, we also organize awareness-raising events such as seminars and plant visits, to facilitate sharing of knowledge and successful experience in water management technologies and practices.
Awareness raising seminars where sharing of knowledge & successful experiences in water management, tech & practices are integrated into the programme.
We have organized two water management awareness seminars in several cities in Guangzhou and Dongguan. The next one will be in Shenzhen in September, 2014. During the seminar, we will introduce the HSBC Water Programme for Industrial Water Management e.g. aims, contents and application method and present the latest environmental policies & regulations. The approach and achievable benefits of water management assessment for factories will also be introduced.
In the later stage of this programme, we will also hold several experience sharing seminars. We will invite participating companies to share the findings and experience obtained from the programme: for example, benchmarking water consumption figures, the best water saving practices, applicable technologies and successful cases. Moreover, we will organize a few plant visits to factories with good water management. This could help demonstrate the practicability of implementing water management measures.
CWR: We understand that this programme will not provide financial support to the participating factories for the implementation of actual solutions on pollution control & efficiency improvement. What’s the average cost for a company in textile industry to implement relevant measures?
There is basically no low cost plan for pollution prevention & control. If the wastewater discharged from a factory is not meeting the national or local standard, the only way to solve the issue is to install treatment facilities.
“The cost of pollution control facilities varies greatly but roughly around RMB 1~5 million…”
The cost of pollution control facilities varies greatly but roughly around RMB 1~5 million, depending on the size of the factories, the amount of wastewater & the targeted production processes (such as dyeing, finishing or knitting, etc.).
Average operation cost of wastewater treatment facility can be calculated as RMB 2~3/m3 of wastewater. Thus, if a factory generates 50,000 m3 of wastewater every year, the annual operation cost will be RMB 0.1-0.15 million.
Although some local governments have issued policies that require companies to push for more efficient water use, the enforcement is another issue. This is mainly because of the high cost to install water-efficient equipment.
“Support from government is needed to encourage factories to adopt water-efficient measures.”
To replace the current equipment with more water-efficient equipment usually costs a few million RMB. Since the current tariff in China is still very low (for example, RMB 3.46/m3 in Guangzhou), the annual saving from water use is much lower than the equipment purchase & installation cost. This results in a long pay-back period. Thus the incentive for factories to install such equipment is quite low. Therefore, support from government is needed to encourage factories to adopt water-efficient measures.
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