The industry can be classified as state-owned companies, investment companies and foreign capital companies according to the main competition bodies, in which state-owned companies still dominate the market.
The main business model is government franchise operation. Companies with franchise operation right gain profits from government procurement, supplying sewage treatment service to governments instead of directly towards residents; large enterprises expand through merger and acquisition, BOT, entrusted operation, etc.
Most are restructured state-owned public service units. In most cities of China, water companies manage and regulate both tap water companies and sewage treatment companies, forming an internal industry chain of the upstream and downstream; however, tap water companies and drainage companies operated separately.
Most are public companies with comprehensive strength, actively expanding their market share by joint operation, merger and acquisition, etc., and therefore have formed certain investment scale in large-and-medium-sized cities with interregional operation patterns and satisfactory market performance.
Foreign capital companies
In spite of the small proportion in the industry, foreign capital companies own advanced water technologies especially in sewage treatment industry. Veolia Environment and Suez Environment are currently the representatives of foreign capital giants in the market. Veolia Environment owns projects in operation in over 20 regions of China and more than 13,000 employees serving more than 43 million customers; Suez Environment holds over 20 joint ventures in China, supplying water for 14 million people and processing 5.5 million tons of sewage per day.
Daily municipal sewage discharge reached 140 million cubic meters while 150 million cubic meters in 2016. It is estimated that China’s domestic sewage discharge will keep growing during 2017-2021 with the ever-increasing urban population.