Climate change is a growing concern that has countries across the world scrambling to do their part to help the environment. The United Nations has warned that if swift action isn’t taken now, it could be too late by 2030.
Thankfully, this eye-awakening warning has already kicked some major changes into action in 2020. Here’s a look at a few of these new laws, compiled by the World Economic Forum.
- France Cracks Down on Vehicle Emissions
Owners of high-polluting cars in France — i.e., SUVs — will now face an even higher tax rate. Previously, additional taxes on vehicles with emissions higher than 184g/km CO2 totaled $14,000, but that number has risen to $22,240.
- Certain Types of Plastic Banned in Thailand
The Thailand government has announced plans to ban microbeads, cap seals, and oxo-degradable plastics by the end of the year. Additionally, 43 retailers have joined forces in an agreement to stop giving customers free plastic bags.
- Many Single-Use Plastics Outlawed in France
Plates, cups, cotton buds, and drink bottles used in school canteens and catering services are now prohibited in France. Plastic cutlery, straws, and many single-use Styrofoam products are on their way out next year.
Additionally, exemptions in place on compostable products made from at least 50% organic material and cutlery used in prisons, planes, and trains will expire in July 2021.
- More Plastic Bag Bans in the U.S.
Several states and individual cities have joined the plastic bag ban or will join it in 2020 — and more almost definitely will in the future. Some of the recent adopters include Oregon, New York, and Albuquerque, NM.
- Certain Types of Sunscreen Banned in Palau
Sunscreen containing 10 ingredients that are notably harmful to the environment — i.e., oxybenzone and octinoxate — is now illegal in Palau. These ingredients are highly toxic to coral reefs and other marine life, according the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Combating Plastic Waste
Plastic is a huge problem in America’s landfills. In 2017, plastics generation was 35.4 million tons in the U.S. — and nearly 76% of this ended up in landfills, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This problem has more than doubled over the past 30 years. For example, plastics generation was just 17,130 million tons in 1990.
Also one of the biggest hazards to the marine environment, plastics serve as both a physical and chemical danger to the marine environment. Plastic waste and particles are found in most marine and terrestrial habitats, according the EPA. As they decompose, plastic objects tend to become progressively smaller and more fragmented, without substantial chemical degradation, making them extremely toxic.