From January 1, 2015 a new law will come into force in China, which will cancel the maximum amounts set for fines in pollution cases. This means the amount of future fines are unlimited and to be decided on by the relevant authorities, case by case as I understand it. Until now the fines had maximum levels, which were so low that often polluters could not care less and preferred to pay the fine instead of upgrading machinery, equipment or factories.

Chinese people and their government have been shocked by new reports, which showed the general public how bad the situation actually is. This month for instance, water supplies to millions of people in the cities of Wuhan and Lanzhou had to be cut off because of pollution. We have all seen the images of smog on TV in the big cities in China.

Environmental groups and NGOs are hot on the case and monitor events continuously. Chinese citizens have been encouraged to report pollution cases of any kind to the authorities.

This could seriously change the tanning industry in China and what is now happening in Wuji and some other places could just be the beginning. Some people in the leather business feel sure that the kind of problems recently taking place in Wuji is not going to blow over in a few weeks as was almost always the case before.

If this is the case it will be for the better. Cleaning up the mess and making leather in a proper way will no doubt come at a price. It is more than likely that tanning costs for those involved will increase and thus reduce the benefits the bad guys enjoyed for many years because of the unfair competition with those who followed the rules. It will not only mean good news for the people in China now suffering from the pollution but also for tanning industries in other parts of the world who will be in a stronger position to compete. As a result, parts of the industry may even come back to the Western world as the playing field becomes more even. So I say for many reasons, go ahead, keep hammering away and get the polluting bad guys out of the industry!

Ron Sauer