There is no reliance on the premise that a government will interpret, or enforce a law in a common sense manner. A good regulation is only as good as the enforcement that comes with it. Recently China has been acknowledging the fact that they have serious pollution issues with production facilities in their country, just before that it was India in the news cutting off power to tanneries. There is no doubt that tanning can be a polluting industry if not well managed and our industry is an easy target because the general public believes that tanning is inherently polluting. I heartily endorse the cleaning up of any polluting activity, tanning included and wherever it occurs; but it does need to be done with some understanding of what is achievable in the real world.

In the Wuji case, China has had rules regarding pollution control for many years and in general terms they would be acceptable if they were applied with a modicum of fairness and common sense. If the rules had been applied in a balanced way in the first place then the situation in Wuji (and others) would have been gradually cleaned up years ago (as it was in Europe in the last years of the 20th century).

With a lot of press coverage and public pressure, what I fear might happen now is that the application of rules and regulations may be applied or interpreted in some unusual ways. I really do think, that globally, it is about time the high levels of pollution are dealt with, but I also sincerely hope that the pendulum does not swing too far and many innocent, law abiding and non-polluting tanneries are not caught up with minor (or non-existent) issues in a massive clean-up and clamp down.

The Toggler