Jiujiang Jinyuan Chemical Fiber Co. Ltd. Viscose Plant, China

Toxic chemicals and untreated industrial waste leads to water pollution and factory worker death at viscose plant in China.


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
NameJiujiang Jinyuan Chemical Fiber Co. Ltd. Viscose Plant, China
ProvinceJiangxi Province
SiteGutang 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
Manufacturing activities
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific CommoditiesViscose (rayon)
Industrial waste
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date01/04/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesJiujiang Jinyuan Chemical Fiber Co., Ltd. from China - Owner of plant
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationOfficial complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Groundwater pollution or depletion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion
Otherhydrogen sulphide pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Other Health impacts, Deaths
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Otherexposure to hydrogen sulphide
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The factory has been forced to shut down several times and has been fined, yet they seem to continue their polluting and toxic activities as before.
Sources and Materials

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


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

[3] Consumer Daily, "Villagers of Gutang Village, Lushan District, Jiujiang City Complain about Underlying Sewage Discharge by Jiujiang Jinyuan Chemical Fibre and Jiangxi Datang Chemical to Poyang River", 13 January 2015
[click to view]

[4] Huanqiu, "Enterprises Directly Discharge Sewage into Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province, Treatment Plant Completion Date Remains Unknown", 9 April 2011
[click to view]

Other Documents

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

Dead sheep near Jiujiang Jinyuan Chemical Fiber viscose plant credit: Changing Markets
[click to view]

Other CommentsThis 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
ContributorMariko Takedomi Karlsson, research intern @ EnvJustice, [email protected]
Last update27/02/2018