ABSTRACT This study analyzes the management of wastewater pollutants in a number of Chinese industrial sectors from 1998 to 2010. We use decomposition analysis to calculate changes in wastewater pollutant emissions that result from cleaner production processes, end-of-pipe treatment, structural changes in industry, and changes in the scale of production. We focus on one indicator of water quality and three pollutants: chemical oxygen demand (COD), petroleum, cyanide, and volatile phenols. We find that until 2002, COD emissions were mainly reduced through end-of-pipe treatments. Cleaner production processes didn’t begin contributing to COD emissions reductions until the introduction of a 2003 law that enforced their implementation. Petroleum emissions were primarily lowered through cleaner production mechanisms, which have the added benefit of reducing the input cost of intermediate petroleum. Diverse and effective pollution abatement strategies for cyanide and volatile phenols are emerging among industries in China. It will be important for the government to consider differences between industries should they choose to regulate the emissions of specific chemical substances.
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