The iron and steel sector has made commendable progress in its efforts to reduce pollution, notwithstanding the obstacles and challenges, experts said.
"Environmental protection in the iron and steel industry has made positive progress in the past decade, and emissions of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and particulate matters from per metric ton of steel production have dropped by more than 60 percent," said Li Xinchuang, president of the China Metallurgical Industry Planning& Research Institute. He made the comments at the 2018 China Iron & Steel Energy Saving and Emission Reduction Forum in Beijing on Saturday.
Much of the progress has been achieved by cutting overcapacity, phasing out substandard steel products, punishing those who have violated environmental protection regulations and boosting overall awareness of environment protection in the sector, experts said.
But there is still much to be done as the sector remains an integral part of the overall efforts to achieve blue skies, experts said, adding that due to the huge output that the industry generates, it was one of the top industrial sources for pollution in China.
Particulate matter discharged by the sector usually takes the first place among all industrial sectors, with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide discharged by the sector ranked in the third place, Li said.
What has been solved in the past years was relatively easy compared with the next phase of environmental protection tasks, because they are related with the update of the industrial structure, the optimization of production processes and energy use, the changing of product transportation, and the upgrading of environmental protection equipment, Li said.
However, he pointed out that the external conditions are now favorable for the sector to deepen industrial restructuring, adjust energy consumption, and improve product transportation, as the central authorities are stressing on the need for environmental protection.
Besides, due to the reduction of overcapacity and the elimination of illegal inferior-quality steel production, steel enterprises have been enjoying higher profits, and thus have sufficient capital to upgrade production process and adopt effective environmental protection equipment, he said.
Liu Zhenjiang, secretary-general of the China Iron and Steel Association, said China now has quite a few steel enterprises that lead in the world in terms of advanced production processes and high-tech environment protection equipment, and their experiences and practices are worthy of emulation.
However, he said it is also becoming difficult for many enterprises to get sufficient investment to update equipment, and some of the pollution problems that have accumulated over the years cannot be solved in a short time span.
Li urged all the stakeholders in the industry to put concerted efforts to overcome challenges and obstacles so as to protect the environment.