Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), important precursors of ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), are the key to curb the momentum of O3 growth and further reducing PM2.5 in China. Container manufacturing industry is one of the major VOC emitters, and more than 96% containers of the world are produced in China, with the annual usage of coatings of over 200,000 tons in recent years. This is the first research on the emission characteristics of VOCs in Chinese container manufacturing industry, including concentration and ozone formation potential (OFP) of each species. The result shows that the largest amounts of VOCs are emitted during the pretreatment process, followed by the paint mixing process and primer painting process, and finally other sprays process. The average VOC concentrations in the workshops, the exhausts before treatment and the exhausts after treatment are ranging from 82.67–797.46 , 170–1,812.65 , 66.20–349.63 mg/m3, respectively. Benzenes, alcohols and ethers are main species, which contribute more than 90% OFP together. Based on the emission characteristics of VOCs and the technical feasibility, it is recommended to set the emission limit in standard of benzene to 1.0 mg/m3, toluene to 10 mg/m3, xylene to 20 mg/m3, benzenes to 40 mg/m3, alcohols and ethers to 50 mg/m3, and VOCs to 100 mg/m3. The study reports the industry emission characteristics and discusses the standard limits, which is a powerful support to promote VOCs emission reduction, and to promote the coordinated control of PM2.5 and O3 pollution.