China’s Booming Paper Industry Bad for the Environment

11 February, 2012 at 10:28 | Posted in China, Environmental issues, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Jin Jing
Epoch Times Staff

China ranks number one in the world in both production and consumption of paper and cardboard. Obsolete technology in paper production facilities and accelerated cultivation of wood pulp forests are causing large-scale environmental degradation.

According to a report released by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), 40 percent of fiber material required for China’s paper industry comes from imports. In 2010 alone, China imported over 11 million tons of wood pulp and over 24 million tons of scrap paper. In 2011, the import of wood pulp grew by 27 percent to over 14 million tons, and the import value grew by 35 percent to nearly US$12 billion.

According to another government report, paper production and consumption in China increased from 2000 to 2010 by 204 percent and 156.6 percent, respectively.

The NDRC report further pointed out that 35 percent of production facilities in China’s paper industry are using obsolete technology, which violate China’s “Discharge Standards of Water-Based Pollutants for the Pulp and Paper Industries” regulations. For 2010 production figures, this translates into 32.44 million tons of outdated capacity. The report said that only 10 million tons of the outdated capacity will be replaced in the 2011-2015 period, which means more than 20 million tons of outdated capacity will continue to operate and pollute China’s rivers even after 2015.

Each ton of wood pulp processing requires more than 300 tons of water. Waste-water discharge from paper manufacturers contains high concentrations of organic chemicals and poisonous materials, which pollute the environment and endanger aquatic life.

According to a report by the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University six years ago, out of 50,000 km (31,000 miles) of major waterways in China, more than 75 percent can no longer habitat fish. The most polluted rivers are the Da Liao, Hai Luan, Huai, and many parts of the Yellow River, which have turned carcinogenic.

China has 2 million new cases of cancer each year, with 1.4 million people dying from cancer each year. One of out five deaths is due to cancer, according to official mainland media reports. In many cities, cancer has surpassed cardiovascular disease and become the number one cause of death.

An expert from China’s Paper Manufacturing Association said that many regions in China are accelerating cultivation of new wood-pulp forests.

Professor Jiang Gaoming of the Chinese Institute of Botany said wood-pulp forests will lead to the disappearance of native forests. Jiang explained that wood-pulp trees, such as eucalyptus, are poor at storing water. Growing such trees requires lots of water and causes rapid decrease in underground water reserves. At the same time, these man-made forests quickly deplete soil nutrients and degrade soil quality. For this reason, eucalyptus trees are often called “water suckers” and “nutrient suckers,” Professor Jiang said. In addition, eucalyptus generates chemical substances, which restrict the growth of other plants, greatly reducing biodiversity and causing forests to turn into what he calls “green deserts.”

Read the original Chinese article.

via China’s Booming Paper Industry Bad for the Environment | Society | China | Epoch Times

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