Climate Joy Week #42: China to Ban Single-Use Plastic in Major Cities, Spain Declares Climate Emergency

Climate Joy Week #42: China to Ban Single-Use Plastic in Major Cities, Spain Declares Climate Emergency

Another week, another round-up of positive news stories as it relates to the environment and climate action. The first month of 2020 is nearly over but it has already borne witness to some advancements in our global fight to protect our planet.

So here’s what we’re celebrating this week:

1. China to ban single-use plastic in major cities

China, one of the world’s biggest users of plastic, has unveiled a major plan to reduce single-use plastics across the country. According to a BBC report, the country will ban all non-degradable bags in major cities by the end of 2020. This will be followed by a much wider ban in all towns and cities by 2022. 

The restaurant sector will also be banned from offering single-use straws by the end of 2020 and must reduce the use of single-use plastic items by 30%. Hotels have been told that they must not offer free single-use plastic items by 2025 though fresh produce markets will be exempt until 2025. The production and sale of plastic bags that are less than 0.025mm thick will also be banned. 

The new policies which were presented by the National Development and Reform Commission will be implemented over the next five years with the country hoping to tackle the huge amount of waste its 1.4 billion citizens generate. The nation’s largest rubbish dump – the size of around 100 football fields – is already full, 25 years ahead of schedule.

China produced 60 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2010, followed by the US at 38 million tonnes.

2. Spain declares climate emergency, gets climate plan ready

Spain’s new government declared a national climate emergency a few days ago. This is taking a formal first step toward enacting ambitious measures to fight climate change. The declaration approved by the Cabinet states that the left-of-center Socialist government will send to parliament within 100 days its proposed climate legislation. The targets coincide with the European Union climate targets including a reduction of net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

Spain’s coalition government wants up to 95% of the Mediterranean country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2040. The plan also foresees eliminating pollution by buses and trucks and making farming carbon neutral.

3. Malaysia sends 150 shipping containers of plastic waste back to rich countries

Malaysia has sent back 150 shipping containers of plastic waste to rich nations including the United States, United Kingdom, France and Canada.

The country’s environment minister, Yeo Bee Yin, said she ordered 3,737 metric tons of trash to be returned to 13 countries. Of the 150 containers:

  • 43 will be returned to France,
  • 42 back to the UK,
  • 17 back to the US;
  • and Canada 11.

“To date, MESTECC, through the Department of Environment (DOE) has repatriated 150 containers, with approximately 3,737 metric tonnes of plastic wastes that were illegally brought into Malaysia,” writes Yeo in a Facebook post.

“The repatriation exercise does not have any cost implication to the government. The costs were either borne by the exporters or by the shipping liners. This is an unprecedented move by Malaysia

“Malaysian government is serious about combating the import of illegal wastes as we do not want to be the garbage bin of the world.”

According to Greenplace, plastic waste exported from the US to Malaysia more than doubled during the first seven months of 2018 compared with the previous year.

4. Miami recommits to reducing emissions by 2050

Miami became the first city in Florida and 96th in the world to join C40 Cities, a coalition of 96 cities around the world committed to lowering their carbon footprint. Mayor Francis Suarez, who signed the agreement, called it a moral imperative for the city to cut its emissions.

The city government plans to go carbon neutral by 2050, a pledge that will change everything from what city employees drive to how the city builds and how it powers itself.

If we really want to be here forever we can’t just react to what Mother Nature is doing,” Suarez said. “We have to do everything in our power not to make matters worse, but to make matters better.”

While the commitment has received some criticism as it doesn’t specify how the city will go carbon neutral, Miami will release its Climate Ready Plan soon that will outline actions it will take. such as switching to electric vehicles, installing more solar panels and enforcing energy efficiency in buildings throughout the city.

5. Tesco is removing plastic wrapping from its multipack tins

Tesco has announced that it will be removing plastic wrapping from its multipack tins. The supermarket giant says the move  will remove 350 tonnes of plastic a year from the environment.


More than 40% of Tesco customers buy tinned multipacks such as baked beans, tinned tomatoes and soup, with 183,000 sold across its stores every day.

Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket, is working with Heinz and Green Giant to replace plastic-wrapped multipacks with multi-buy deals. Tesco said the move was the first of its kind by a major UK retailer.

Changes are expected in early March as Tesco commits to further “removing all unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic from Tesco.”

And that’s all for this week. See you back here for another round of positive climate news and in the meantime, please spread the good news by sharing this post!

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Feature image of Carrefour counters in Chongqing, China. on Dec 31, 2010. The French hypermarket chain, founded in 1959, currently operates in more than 30 countries and has over 9,500 stores. Credit: Shutterstock.

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