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Sateri (Jiangxi) Chemical Fibre Co., Ltd., Viscose Plant, China

Viscose plant causes heavy pollution of the air and nearby waters through untreated wastewater discharge, possibly linked to cancer in local residents.


Background: Viscose (or rayon)  has often been marketed as a more ecologically sustainable alternative to polyester because unlike polyester which is made from petrochemicals, viscose is made from cellulose. It is also praised by some fashion brands because it requires less water to produce compared with cotton. Viscose is found in a huge variety of clothes and is used by almost every major fashion brand to some extent. Although not inherently unsustainable, it is the production process of viscose that presents a very problematic story. Basically, wood pulp is extracted from wood, then turned into viscose staple fibre (VSF) and filament yarn through a highly chemical process using carbon disulphide. Viscose production faces a three pronged issue: the risk of deforestation of ancient forests, occupational hazards of factory workers who are exposed to highly dangerous toxins that have been linked to neurological damage, and heavy contamination that results from poor waste management of viscose factories, not only polluting nearby waters and air, but causing widespread illnesses to villagers in the vicinity of factories. [1][2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sateri (Jiangxi) Chemical Fibre Co., Ltd., Viscose Plant, China
State or province: Jiangxi province
Location of conflict:Gutang Town
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Chemical industries
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Manufacturing activities
Specific commodities:Viscose
Chemical products
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The Sateri (Jiangxi) Chemical Fibre co. plant opened in 2004 in Jiujiang. Two lines were added in 2010, and currently it has four lines and a design capacity of 160,000 tonnes [3].

Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/01/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Sateri Holdings from China
Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) from Singapore
Relevant government actors:Jiujiang City Environmental Protection Bureau
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The company is still polluting the air and water and is claiming to be compliant with all regulations. Local residents try continuously to complain to the government yet nothing is being done.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Blanc, P.D. 2016, Fake silk: the lethal history of viscose rayon, Yale University Press, Cumberland.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] Sateri Holdings Website
[click to view]

[1] Changing Markets Foundation 2017, Dirty Fashion: How pollution in the global textiles supply chain is making viscose toxic
[click to view]

[4] Yidian Zixun, "Jiangxi Lushan District: Sewage Directly Discharged into Poyang Lake, Whose Price to Pay?", 16 October 2015
[click to view]

Other documents

Waste water near viscose factory credit: Changing Markets
[click to view]

Dead sheep near Sateri (Jiangxi) Fiber viscose plant credit: Changing Markets
[click to view]

Other comments:This sheet mostly draws from the report by Changing Markets Foundation 2017, "Dirty Fashion: How pollution in the global textiles supply chain is making viscose toxic"
Meta information
Contributor:Mariko Takedomi Karlsson, research intern @ EnvJustice, [email protected]
Last update27/02/2018
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