China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection will establish a new discharge standard for water pollutants emitted from the leather and fur making industry.

The new standards will come into effect from March 1, 2014.

In terms of quantity and sheer scale of production, China has the world’s largest leather manufacturing industry. As a result, however, pollution is a major problem considering how it’s mixed in 160 million tons of wastewater every year, varying pollution management levels, and cursory efforts to promote cleaner production.

China’s annual wastewater contains over 400,000 tons of chemical oxygen demand (COD), 16,000 tons of ammonia/nitrogen, and 1,280 tons of chromium, citing evidence from a Ministry press release.

The new discharge standard, called GB 30486-2013, isolates the total nitrogen, chlorine ion and other primary target pollutants. Together with technological advancements in wastewater treatment in the leather and fur industry, GB 30486-2013 sets tougher emission limits and "referential discharge indicators" than the existing one.

Estimations from the Ministry say that the discharge of COD and ammonia/nitrogen could be cut by about 57% and 67%, respectively, once the new standards are completely enforced.

In addition, the overall industrial structure will be optimised, and many small, outmoded companies will be closed, the release also said.