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Total quality environmental management: Adoption status in the Chinese manufacturing sectorPurpose - To address the critical sustainability challenges currently faced by China, manufacturers in this country have committed to improve their environmental performance. To support this commitment, evidence suggests that Chinese manufacturers have mainly turned to the implementation of environmental management approaches such as ISO 14001, cleaner production, green supply chain management, circular economy and green lean. However, the adoption of other approaches such as Total Quality Environmental Management by Chinese manufacturers is less clear. This paper fills this gap by providing light into fundamental issues regarding the implementation of TQEM in the manufacturing sector of China. Methodology/design/approach - A survey-based exploratory study was conducted based on 119 Chinese manufacturing companies and the data obtained was analysed using a combination of descriptive and inferential statistics. Findings – The results revealed that in general, there is less awareness of TQEM in the Chinese manufacturing sector than other environmental and quality/operations improvement approaches such as green supply chain management, reverse logistics, ISO 9000, Six Sigma and lean six sigma. Thus, its degree of implementation is also lower than these approaches as well as ISO 14001. The results also indicate that although a company’s size is not associated to the implementation of TQEM, it is mainly large organisations and those that have adopted TQM those which will be mainly aware and have implemented TQEM. The study also reveal the drivers, results and challenges of TQEM implementation. Originality/value - The paper extends the currently limited knowledge on TQEM, and its results are beneficial for managers who aim at effectively adopting TQEM to simultaneously improve the environmental, operational and financial performance of their organisations. The paper can also motivate organisations not currently embarked on the “green wagon” to contemplate the benefits that implementing TQEM, or any other environmental management approach, may bring to their operations and business.