26 July 2016

Duterte’s Waste Disposal Plan Worries Environmental Groups


Environmental groups urged President Rodrigo Duterte to seriously reconsider his plan to adopt waste-to-energy (WtE) facilities to deal with Metro Manila’s burgeoning garbage estimated at 9,213 tons per day.

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, Duterte announced: “To have adequate disposal facilities for the Metro Manila garbage, the final closure and rehabilitation of the Carmona Sanitary Landfill shall be pursued while the adoption of appropriate waste-to-energy facilities will be explored. Marami yan. The technology is coming very fast.”

The presidential pronouncement in favor of WtE has left Zero Waste advocates worried, warning that incinerating waste will have many negative environmental, health and social consequences.

“Not all WtE options are safe, legal and acceptable.  Incinerators masquerading as WtE are false and expensive solutions to the garbage problem.  The government has to be extra cautious about endorsing such magic bullet technologies, especially when the solution to the garbage problem lies in the full implementation of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” stated environmental activist Von Hernandez of Greenpeace.

“A shift to thermal WtE, a quick-fix ‘solution,’ will undermine the nation’s efforts to sustainably deal with its garbage through recycling, composting and other Zero Waste strategies that are embodied in R.A. 9003.  Instead of burning discards, the government and the private sector need to invest more on redesigning products and on waste prevention and reduction activities excluding incineration.  Local government units, who are primarily in charge of R.A. 9003’s implementation, need to wake up from their slumber and fully enforce the law,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“We would caution the new government not to put too much faith in WtEs.  These are old technologies repackaged to escape the stigma of pollution and contamination to communities.  There is no magic technology to dispose of waste.  What is needed is an overhaul of our solid waste management system rooted in corruption, irresponsibility and inefficiency,” said Anne Larracas, Priority Project and Network Support Officer, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

“WtE is actually a misnomer as burning materials that could be reused, recycled or composted destroy the energy-saving potential of putting those discards to better use,” Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.  “Recycling conserves 3 to 5 times the energy that WtE power plants generate,” she added.

Rene Pineda, President of the Partnership for Clean Air, said: “WtE is unacceptable because it is a violation of Republic Act 8749, the Clean Air Act.  We will fight all attempts to legalize WtEs.”

According to the groups, the push for WtE will contradict Duterte’s statement that his “administration shall implement a humane approach to development and governance, as we improve our people’s welfare in the areas of health, education, adequate food and water, housing, environmental preservation, and respect for culture.”

“WtEs will put the people’s welfare and the environment at risk,” the groups said.

“Also, if the government wants to create more sustainable jobs for our people, then the WtE schemes are not the way to go.  WtE facilities will compete with recycling and composting for funds and materials, while creating far fewer jobs,” the groups pointed.  

“In lieu of costly WtEs, we urge the government to go for Zero Waste strategies, including the inclusion of the informal waste workers into the formal waste management programs where they can enjoy decent and secure employment,” the groups suggested.

The groups expressed their commitment to dialogue with the Duterte administration, particularly with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Solid Waste Management Commission, in order to effectively enforce R.A. 9003 and mainstream sustainable waste management solutions that will exclude thermal WtEs.


25 July 2016

Environmental Watchdog Welcomes Presidential Order Upholding Public Access to Information


A non-government watch group on chemicals and wastes has joined the chorus lauding President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for signing last Saturday his “Freedom of Information” (FOI) executive order.

“While it is no substitute to an all-encompassing FOI law that would apply to all branches and levels of the government, Duterte’s order is surely a huge boost to building a more transparent, accountable and responsive government that our people want,” said Noli Abinales, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The public will now have guaranteed access to a wide range of information pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions by offices under the executive branch,” he emphasized.

Under the said order, information refers to “any records, documents, papers, reports, letters, contracts, minutes and transcripts of official meetings, map, books, photos, data, research materials, films, sound and video recording (magnetic or other tapes), electronic data computer store data or similar data or materials recorded stored or archived.”

“We trust that Congress will take its cue from the president and pass an all-inclusive FOI law within a short period of time,” he said.

“We see the FOI law not only as an anti-corruption tool,  but as an indispensable instrument that can contribute to the attainment of the people’s right to basic services, healthy environment and socially-just development,” he added.

“We likewise hope that Congress will enact other ‘right to know’ laws such as a national Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) legislation that will provide public access to a database of hazardous chemicals and pollutants discharged to air, water and soil and transferred off-site for treatment or disposal by business or industrial facilities,” he said.

As the inventory of exceptions has yet to be drawn up by the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope that the exceptions would be few and would not be used to inhibit public disclosure by government agencies and officials.

“Specifically, information that is relevant to the health and safety of the people and the ecosystems should be made readily available and not treated as confidential,” he said.

“We also hope that the implementing details to be prepared by government offices under the executive branch will be procedurally simple and rapid to entice public participation,” he further said.


19 July 2016

Duterte’s Push for Trash-Free Localities Gains Support from Green Groups

Environmental health activists have echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s call on local authorities to clean up the ubiquitous trash in areas under their jurisdiction, lamenting that the garbage problem has persisted due to the lack of political will in implementing the ecological solid waste management law.

Last Friday, Duterte scored local government officials over the all-pervasive garbage in many cities and municipalities across the archipelago.  

“Many localities in the country are so dirty and yet the mayors are not doing anything about it.  There is trash and garbage around and if you have to wait for the plastic to go inside the drainage every time there’s downpour and excessive rainwater, nagka-clog,” the President said. .

“We empathize with President Duterte’s comments regarding the filthy state of our surroundings that is sadly becoming a rule rather than an exception.  If you look around, there is litter all over from tiny cigarette butts to the omnipresent plastic bags,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“By his words, we can see how upset he is with the dismal failure of many officials in fulfilling their responsibilities to prevent and reduce garbage that has obviously spilled into the streets, storm drains, rivers and into the oceans,” she added.

“We hope that he will follow this up with marching orders at his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) that will instruct national and local government officials to faithfully enforce R.A. 9003 towards a basura-free republic where our children can safely grow, play and live,” she said. 

Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, is a major environmental legislation that provides a framework for managing discards primarily through waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting, excluding open burning and incineration.

Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation, explained that “R.A. 9003. a decentralization law, devolves solid waste management down to the smallest unit of government, the barangay.  It can be implemented with the full support of the municipal or city mayor. It mandates source segregation, segregated collection, segregated waste destination and the establishment of a materials recovery facility (MRF) in every barangay or cluster of barangays.”

The activists stressed that the President’s stinging remarks should spur lazy and negligent public officials to abandon their lethargic approach in implementing the law, which many environmentalists worldwide have hailed as a model for responsibly managing society’s discards.

“It is often said that the Philippines has some of the best and forward looking environmental laws in the world.  The tragedy is that many of these laws remain lamentably unimplemented, often undermined by corruption and myopia on the part of government officials responsible for enforcing them,” said Von Hernandez of Greenpeace.

“It is scandalous that local governments are wasting billions of pesos on waste management approaches that only exacerbate the problem of environmental pollution through dumpsites, landfills and so-called waste-to-energy facilities, when in fact the safe, simple and inexpensive solutions to this problem already exist in our statutes,” he added.

“With Secretary Gina Lopez now at the helm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Solid Waste Management Commission, we hope that the Duterte administration will  seriously apply its hard-nosed and no nonsense approach in  mainstreaming Zero Waste solutions to liberate our cities and towns from waste and pollution,” the groups said.

Zero Waste solutions, according to the groups, turn discards into resources that can generate sustainable jobs and livelihood opportunities for marginalized families, particularly those from the informal waste sector.

Recycling, reuse, composting and other Zero Waste strategies conserve resources and energy while support community self-reliance and development.

The implementation of Zero Waste solutions will reduce the volume of discards requiring final disposal and eradicate the need for costly waste burners, including waste-to-energy incinerators, which emit dioxins, mercury and greenhouse gases, among many other toxic pollutants, the groups said.


17 July 2016

Environmentalists Urge Duterte to Stop Plastic Garbage Menace

A week before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), green activists exhorted the government to decisively act against unrestrained plastic production and consumption and the consequent environmental pollution.

The Earth Island Institute, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Greenpeace, Mother Earth Foundation and Nilad urged the Duterte government to enact a robust strategy to prevent and reduce plastic garbage from land sources that is finding its way to the oceans.

The groups reiterated its call on the government to enact a blanket ban on single use plastic bags and other vital measures, including extended producer responsibility (EPR) and environmental levy on plastics, following a cleanup drive and waste audit last Saturday at Freedom Island off the coast of Parañaque City.

Some 125 people took part in the event, including Filipinos and visiting environmentalists from Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa from Africa, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong,  India, Indonesia, Malaysia  and Taiwan from Asia and the Pacific, Argentina, Brazil and Chile from Latin America, and Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, UK and USA from Europe and North America.

The environmentalists from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America are here for a week-long meeting to address plastic pollution of the planet and come up with strategies to move societies to a sustainable, zero waste future.

Of the 259 sacks of waste collected (weighing 1,482 kilos), 79 percent were plastic materials, of which 20 percent were junk food wrappers and sachets, 17 percent plastic bags, 12 percent composite packaging, 9 percent food packaging, 7 percent polystyrene containers, 7 percent diaper liners, 4 percent hard plastics, 1 percent drinking straw and 1 percent plastic twine.

“To dramatically cut plastic use and disposal across the country, we urge the Duterte government to put the plastic bag ban among its top legislative priorities in the 17th Congress.  We expect our lawmakers to cross party lines and stop this ugly plastic pollution that is defiling every corner of our country, including our rich but fragile marine ecosystems,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our legislators should also consider imposing EPR and environmental levy on plastic bags that will internalize external costs to trim down uncontrolled plastic use and littering, while providing incentives that will enhance shift in attitude and preference in favor of reusable alternatives,” she added.

Froilan Grate, Asia-Pacific Coordinator of GAIA, cautioned national and local policy makers against passing measures exempting oxo-degradable plastic bags from the comprehensive ban on disposable plastic bags being sought by ecology groups.

“Oxo-degradable bags, which are also made from petroleum-based polymers, are not exactly climate and environment-friendly.  Their proliferation, particularly in cities and municipalities that have adopted plastic bag ban regulations, has only reinforced the throw-away culture that is choking our surroundings with disposables and creating serious environmental and health crisis,” he said.

“Our mounting plastic garbage has likewise become a magnet for waste-to-energy incinerator vendors and other quick-fix pushers who want to take advantage of the weak enforcement of the country’s ban on waste incineration,” he noted.

For her part, Abigail Aguilar, Toxics Campaigner of Greenpeace said:  “Now, more than ever, Greenpeace is focused on working with a global movement aimed at reducing overall plastics use, but also towards protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, and changing a lifestyle of convenience from a throwaway mentality to mindful consumption.”

Numerous studies, including some that were published in 2016, point to the need for global action to deal with plastic pollution.

The paper “Plastic Debris Is a Human Health Issue” by Dutch researchers A. Dick Vethaak  and Heather A. Leslie stated that “the global threat of highly persistent plastic waste accumulating and fragmenting in the world’s oceans, inland waters and terrestrial environments is becoming increasingly evident.”

“Humans are being exposed to both plastic particles and chemical additives being released from the plastic debris of consumer society. This material is fragmenting, leaching and spreading throughout the biosphere, including indoor and outdoor air, soil, and water systems,” the researchers said.

According to the report “Contaminants in Marine Plastic Pollution: The New Toxic Time-Bomb” by Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith and Joanna Immig, “marine plastic is not only entangling and drowning wildlife, it is being mistaken for food and ingested along with its toxic contaminants.”

“Marine plastics and in particular microplastics, provide a global transport medium for the most toxic chemicals into the marine food chain and ultimately, to humans,” the Australian environmental advocates said.




12 July 2016

Two Philippine Companies Receive First Lead Safe Paint® Certifications

Two Philippine Companies Receive
First Lead Safe Paint® Certifications
(SCS Global Services Issues Certificates Under New Standard)
Quezon City, Philippines– Two companies, Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. and Davies Paints Philippines, Inc., are the first in the world to earn the Lead Safe Paint® mark under a newly-established certification program. The certification program, established by the international non-profit IPEN, was created to let customers know that the paints they are purchasing meet the Philippines mandatory regulatory standard[1] and the world’s strictest regulatory standard for lead content in paint.
Paints from Boysen and Davies were certified by leading third-party certifier SCS Global Services (SCS), the program’s exclusive certification body. SCS’ independent analysis confirmed that paint brands from the two companies contained less than 90 ppm lead. As a result, both companies are licensed to use the Lead Safe Paint® certification mark on their paint can labels and other promotional materials. Using this mark will provide consumers with confidence that these paints will protect their families from the hazard of lead exposure.
“Paints with high levels of lead continue to be sold in many countries in the world, despite the strong science demonstrating the dangers of lead contaminations. Boysen and Davies should be lauded for voluntarily meeting the strict requirements of the Lead Safe Paint® label, and taking steps to let their customers learn about the importance of buying lead safe paint products. We encourage other companies and brand leaders around the world to join Davies and Boysen and seek certification,” said Sara Brosché, IPEN.

"It's certainly an honor to be one of the first companies in the world to earn Lead Safe Paint certification." said Johnson Ongking, Vice President of Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. "Boysen voluntarily removed lead containing raw materials from its paint products over a decade ago, even when there were no regulations that required us to do so; so we're certainly pleased that our efforts to promote lead safe paints have been recognized by a global program."

“Davies Paints has always been committed to manufacture high quality paint products to meet global standards with the goal of making a positive impact in the industry, in people's health and safety, and in environmental protection. As a member of both the US and the Philippine Green Building Council, our efforts are directed towards providing green decorative and industrial coatings to our customers. This distinction as one of the world's first certified Lead Safe Paint is a testament to the Davies Mission,” said Johnlee Garcia, President, Davies Paints Philippines, Inc.

Nicole Muñoz, Operations Manager for SCS Global services stated, “SCS is proud to partner with IPEN to certify eligible brands to meet the Lead Safe Paint certification criteria and work with brand leaders to make lead safe paint available for wider consumer use.  We look forward to expanding this program globally.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls lead paint “a major flashpoint” for children’s potential lead poisoning, and points out that “lead paint is one of the largest sources of exposure to lead in children.” Moderate lead exposure during early childhood years has been linked to an increased likelihood of impaired cognition and executive function, impulsiveness, aggression and delinquent behavior. Brain damage caused by chronic, low-level exposure to lead is irreversible and untreatable.

Lead Safe Paint® is an independent, third party certification program that verifies paints contain less than 90 parts per million (ppm) or 0.009% total lead (dry weight). More information is available at www.leadsafepaint.org. The 90 ppm standard is used in mandatory regulation in the U.S., Philippines, Nepal and other countries. This standard is achievable when a manufacturer avoids the use of lead pigments and driers in its products, and when reasonable care is taken to avoid the use of ingredients that are contaminated or falsely labeled.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a public interest NGO in the Philippines, and the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers, with support from IPEN and the Occupational Knowledge International, deliberated and endorsed the lead safe paint certification standard in 2014.  This endorsement followed the adoption in 2013 of a historic government policy phasing out leaded architectural, decorative and household paints by January 1, 2017 and leaded industrial paints by January 1, 2020.


About IPEN

IPEN is a global non-government organization (NGO) with participating organizations in more than 100 countries working for a toxics free future. It has conducted lead paint testing and analysis in more than 40 countries and is a member of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint Advisory Group. It is also the Scheme Owner for the Lead Safe Paint® standard and certification mark. For information, visit, www.ipen.org

About SCS Global Services

SCS Global Services has been providing global leadership in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing, and standards development for more than 30 years. Programs span a cross-section of industries, recognizing achievements in green building, manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, and more. SCS is a chartered Benefit Corporation, reflecting its corporate commitment to creating a material positive impact on society and the environment, and 2016 recipient of the Acterra Award for Sustainability.  For information, visit www.scsglobalservices.com.

[1] The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24 sets a mandatory limit of 90 ppm for lead in paint and establishes a three-year phase-out period for lead-containing architectural, decorative and household paints (2013-2016) and a six-year phase-out period for lead-containing industrial paints (2013-2019).