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New ‘Soil Ten Plan’ To Safeguard China’s Food Safety & Healthy Living Environment

31 May, 2016 – State Council issued the ‘Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan’ (or “Soil Ten Plan”). This is the third pollution action plan issued by the State Council following the one targeting air pollution in 2013 and the “Water Ten Plan” in 2015.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources, 16.1% of China’s surveyed land is polluted by heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, lead and mercury. Additionally, 19.4% of surveyed arable land had pollution levels higher than the national standard.

The new plan aims to improve soil quality, ensure safe agricultural products and a healthy living environment for China’s people.

In total, there are 231 specific actions involved. Some key targets and actions are listed below:

Key objectives & targets:

  • To curb worsening soil pollution by 2020, and control soil pollution risks by 2030, and form a virtuous cycle in the ecosystem by 2050;
  • To ensure over 90% of contaminated land can be utilised safely by 2020, and increase this to 95% by 2030;
  • By 2016, local governments need to finalise detailed work plan and submit to the group of Ministries that developed the Plan (listed below);
  • By 2017, to set up national-level soil environmental quality monitoring points and monitoring networks;
  • By 2020, soil environmental quality monitoring points to cover all the cities and counties; and
  • By 2020, to establish soil pollution prevention & control related laws and regulation system.

Key pollutants to be monitored

  • Heavy metals: cadmium, mercury, arsenic, lead and chromium
  • Organic pollutants: PAHs and petroleum hydrocarbons

Industrial pollution

  • By 2020, to complete investigation of distribution and environmental impacts of contaminated industrial land use by key industries (not specified)
  • By 2020, heavy metal emissions from key polluting industries are expected to drop 10% from the 2013 level
  • To encourage recycling of electronics, plastic and packaging waste

Agriculture pollution

  • By 2017, provincial soil remediation planning to be finalized and soil remediation result assessment methods to be issued
  • By 2018, finalise investigation of total area of contaminated farmland and assessment of impacts on agricultural products
  • By 2020, to achieve zero increase of fertilizer and pesticide use in major crops. Effective utilization rates to reach 40% and above. Coverage of fertilizer application based on soil sampling to reach 90% and above
  • By 2020, >75% of large scale livestock farms to be equipped with waste handling facilities
  • Irrigation water to comply with farmland irrigation water quality standard;

As can be seen from the above various objectives and industries there has been a coordinated approach to the Soil Ten Plan. The involvement of more than 18 Ministries and government departments is reflected. Some of these are: Ministry of Environment Protection, National Development & Reform Commission,  Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Industry & Information Technology, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Land & Resources, Ministry of Housing & Urban-Rural Development, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, National Health & Family Planning Commission, State Administration of Grain, State Forestry Administration, General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, State Administration of Taxation, Supreme People’s Court, China Banking Regulatory Commission, China Securities Regulatory Commission and so on.

For the full plan, click here.

For more details on the impacts from the Soil Ten like how tight are clean-up deadlines and which industries will face more scrutiny, be sure to read our review in our newsletter coming later month. Don’t miss out, sign-up here!

China Water Risk – Ministry of Environmental Protection Joint Brief

Also, we will soon be publishing a joint brief with the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office of the Ministry of Environmental Protection on the water-nomics of the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB).  See whether the upper, middle or lower reaches has the highest GDP and what that means for pollution from mountaintops-to-the-sea.

Moreover, which industrial mix is best to grow GDP but limit pollution? We cover various industries and Provinces, including those from the Soil Ten Plan. Plus, how do heavy metals impact the YREB?

Answers to these questions and more from the report will be in our June newsletter, so sign-up!