21 July 2018

Group Holds E-Waste Collection at BSP (EcoWaste Coalition Bats for Environmentally-Sound Management of E-Waste)

In a bid to promote the safe management of waste electrical and electronic equipment, or what is popularly known as e-waste, a non-profit group conducted a collection program for such waste at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

As an exhibitor in a wellness fair held at the BSP Assembly Hall in Manila on July 19 and 20, the EcoWaste Coalition set up a booth, handed out e-waste information leaflets and received a variety of damaged and outmoded electronic stuff from BSP employees.

The collected e-wastes, including batteries, cell phones, laptops, printers, servers, modem routers, kitchen appliances and other electrical products that have reached the end of their useful lives, were immediately brought to a government-accredited facility in Laguna for proper recycling or disposal.  

“Our presence at the BSP event is part of our ongoing effort to draw public awareness about the threats posed by e-waste to human health and the environment and the need to ensure the safe management of this growing toxic waste stream,” said Primo Morillo, E-Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Promoting the environmentally-sound management of e-waste will protect workers and the rest of the society against adverse effects caused by improper handling, storage, transport, dismantling, recycling or disposal that can let loose the highly hazardous components of such waste or create even more toxic byproducts,” he added.

Among the very hazardous substances found in e-waste are heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs) and  polybrominated diphenyl ethers(PBDEs), and other chemicals of concern.  Byproduct POPs such as dioxins and furans are formed as a result of combustion processes such as open burning and waste incineration. 

PBDEs, in particular, have been used as flame retardant chemicals in the manufacture of the plastic casings of TV and computer sets, cables and wires, etc.  Like PCBs, dioxins and other POPs, PBDEs possess toxic properties, resist degradation and have a high potential for long-range transport and bio-accumulation, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The EcoWaste Coalition is part of the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau and supported by the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The said project seeks to protect the Filipino people’s health and the environment through the environmentally sound management of PCBs and PBDEs in e-waste in line with the country's obligations as a party to the Stockholm Convention on POPs.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, is the project’s civil society partner in charge of implementing its public awareness raising component.


19 July 2018

Garbage on Manila Bay Breakwater Stirs Up Call for Enforcement of Waste Law

The garbage that has accumulated at the breakwater in Manila Bay prompted a waste and pollution watch group to call anew for the strict enforcement of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“The sea sent back the trash from land as if to remind everyone, rich and poor, that whatever we improperly dispose of will return and haunt us,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Following the habagat or southwest monsoon rains that flooded many parts of Metro Manila, a team from the group’s Basura Patrol went to the bay area and found plastic bags, straws and other disposables, packaging materials like polystyrene, slippers, wood scraps and water hyacinth washed up along the breakwater creating a dumpsite right next to the US Embassy.

“The carpet of garbage along the shore has once again shown the necessity of getting our acts together to prevent garbage from spilling into the waterways and into Manila Bay.  It’s high time for all members of the society to embrace R.A. 9003 ,” Alejandre said.

Waste audits conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, Cavite Green Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Mother Earth Foundation, and waste pickers' groups at the Manila Bay in 2016, 2014, 2010 and 2006 found  plastic wastes topping the bay’s flotsam.  The 2016 waste audit, for example, collected 1,482 kilos of garbage, 79 percent of which were assorted plastic materials.

Enacted in December 2000 six months after the deadly Payatas dumpsite tragedy, R.A. 9003, as written in Section 2 (Declaration of Policies), seeks to “ensure the proper segregation, collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of the best environmental practice in ecological waste management excluding incineration.”

It prohibits, as stated in Section 48 (Prohibited Acts), littering, open burning, open dumping, the manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials, the importation of consumer products in non-environmentally acceptable materials as well as the importation of toxic waste represented as “recyclable.”

“Individuals, households, businesses and institutions need to consume responsibly, avoid single-use plastics such as bags, straws and stirrers, and keep discards separated,” Alejandre said.  

Non-biodegradable discards such as papers and cartons, glass and plastic bottles, aluminum and tin cans can be repurposed, reused or recycled, while the biodegradable discards can be fed to animals or composted to produce soil amendments for garden or farm, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Special waste such as busted lamps, broken TVs, and other electronic waste should be managed separately and safely as these contain hazardous substances such as mercury, cadmium, lead and other heavy metals, and persistent organic pollutants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

“Companies need to design waste out of the manufacturing processes and in the products themselves, particularly by substituting hazardous inputs with non-toxic alternatives and by switching to safe and reusable packaging materials,” Alejandre said.

“The government, particularly Congress, should make laws that will ban single-use plastics and ban harmful chemicals in packaging materials,” he added.

The genuine enforcement of R.A. 9003 and other pollution prevention laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act is absolutely needed to protect public health and the environment and promote cleaner, safer and sustainable communities, the EcoWaste Coalition said.


17 July 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Warns Anew vs. Wet Wipes that May Trigger Skin Allergy Among Babies

Baby wipes containing MCI/MIT, which are banned in leave-on cosmetics, including wet wipes
Baby wipes lacking the required product notifications that were purchased from retailers in Pasay City
 A sales attendant arranges baby wipe products at a retail store in Pasay City

A waste and pollution watch group has again alerted both government regulators and consumers against the proliferation of pre-moistened baby wet wipes that  may cause allergic reactions.

“Consumers should steer clear of wet wipes and other leave-on personal care products  containing banned MCI/MIT preservatives that can cause itchy red rash on the sensitive skin of babies and children,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

MCI, which stands for methylchloroisothiazolinone, and MIT, which means methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MIT), are preservatives that are not allowed in leave-on cosmetic products, including wet wipes, under the ASEAN and the European Union cosmetic directives as these compounds can bring about allergic contact dermatitis.

“Consumers should carefully read the product labels, avoid wipes containing MCI/MIT and shun those that have not been assessed by health authorities for their quality and safety,” Dizon pointed out.

“We also advise consumers not to flush used wet wipes or throw them on streets or canals as these may block the drainage and sewer systems, clog anti-flood pumping stations, ruin wastewater pumps, and aggravate the plastic pollution of water bodies and the oceans” Dizon added.

In a report submitted today to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the EcoWaste Coalition informed the agency about the illegal sale of unregistered wet wipes in retail establishments in Pasay City.

In test buys conducted last July 14, the group managed to purchase 12 brands of wet wipes marketed for use in cleansing babies’ sensitive skin that have not undergone quality and safety verification by the FDA.

None of these 12 baby wipes, costing P15 to P83.75 per pack, had the required product notifications.

More alarmingly, five of the 12 products listed banned preservatives MCI/MIT as ingredients.

These five products are Aierdan Baby Tender Baby Wipes, Baby Tender Baby Wipes, Dang Yang DY 999 Baby Wipes, Dong Bang Baby Tender Baby Wipes, and Toallitas de Bebe Baby Wipes.

Cosmetic regulators have disallowed MCI/MIT in leave-on cosmetics as “no safe concentrations” of these preservatives have been determined that will not induce allergy.

For children’s health and safety, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the FDA to issue an advisory focusing on baby wet wipes that will warn the public against the purchase and use of unnotified baby wipes.

“The advisory should particularly warn consumers against products containing MCI/MIT that can provoke allergic contact dermatitis to sensitized persons,” the group said.

The group further urged the FDA to conduct law enforcement action to rid both the formal and informal market of unnotified baby wipes with special emphasis on products containing banned MCI/MIT.


16 July 2018

Environmentalists Urge PRRD to Present Ecological Solutions to the Country’s Waste and Pollution Problems in His SONA

Green campaigners today urged President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to emphasize ecological solutions to the waste and pollution problems afflicting the country in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.

“We hope the President will use the SONA to rally the whole nation in embracing proven waste prevention and reduction strategies, including waste segregation at source, reusing, recycling and composting, to tame the ballooning national production of garbage estimated at over 40,000 tons per day,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Now is the time for the President to direct national government agencies and local government units to actively implement R.A. 9003 through the replication of best practices in ecological discards management and the strict enforcement of prohibited acts such as the manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials, littering, open dumping, open burning, and waste incineration,”  he said.

R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, requires a comprehensive and ecological approach to managing municipal solid waste via waste prevention, reduction, source separation, reuse, recycling and composting, excluding waste incineration.

Ruel Cabile, Anti-Incinerator Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, appealed to the President to reconsider his stance as regards the establishment of waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration plants for burning discards.

“Burning discards in WtE facilities will only worsen the country’s garbage situation as this quick-fix ‘solution’ will only encourage reckless consumption and throw-away attitude and lead to the release of by-product pollutants of combustion such as dioxins and other environmental contaminants.  What our communities need are functional materials recovery facilities and clean recycling factories rather than waste burners,” he said.

Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, expressed his hope that President Duterte will back progressive policies and measures that will protect public health and the environment against hazardous chemicals, products and wastes.
“We expect the chief executive to also weigh in on the need to protect our people against health and environmental harms caused by chemical exposure and the need for companies to shift to clean production and to make those polluting the ecosystems pay,” he said.

Dizon also urged the Duterte government to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury and implement mercury pollution prevention measures, including making the dormant US$1.37 million mercury lamp waste recycling facility operational in 2018.

“It is also high time for the President to make his voice heard regarding the plastic and chemical pollution that is making our oceans dirty and sick.  We hope he will declare the ban on single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws and stirrers, as well as the ban on microplastics in cosmetics, as a government priority to curb the plastic and chemical assault on our oceans and the food supply,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Lucero also pressed President Duterte to, once and for all, declare in his SONA the return of the illegal garbage shipments from Canada and the tightening of laws and regulations to prevent foreign waste dumping, including banning waste imports and ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, which seeks to protect developing countries from becoming dumping grounds for waste, including toxic and hazardous wastes, from developed countries.


12 July 2018

Groups Back Proposed QC Ordinance Banning Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Cosmetics

An ordinance that will ban and penalize the manufacture, distribution and sale of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in Quezon City has garnered the support of environmental and health groups in the city.

Introduced by District 1 Councilor Elizabeth Delarmente and filed last July 10, PO-20 CC-439  seeks to ensure strict compliance by business and commercial establishments, as well as street, tiangge and online vendors, to the government regulation prohibiting mercury in cosmetics above one part per million (ppm).

The ordinance will apply to cosmetics such as creams, lotions and soaps that are designed to lighten or whiten the color of the skin.

“The ordinance, we hope, will be swiftly acted upon by our councilors to end the persistent trade of banned mercury-tainted cosmetics in Quezon City that pose serious health risks to consumers,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group has repeatedly called attention to such unlawful trade in Metro Manila.  In May 2018, for example, the group bared the illegal sale of skin lightening cosmetics in Cubao, Quezon City with mercury as much as 21,100 times the trace amount limit of one ppm.

“Such a measure will help in reducing mercury releases to air, water and soil from mercury in products and wastes and should be unanimously supported,” noted Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation. 

As stated in Delarmente’s draft ordinance, the measure aims to: 

-- To halt the illegal manufacture, importation, marketing and promotion, distribution and sale of cosmetic products not compliant with the state and ASEAN policy on mercury in cosmetics.  

 --To promote citizen awareness about the health and environmental hazards of consuming mercury-containing cosmetics.

--To ensure the environmentally-sound management of banned, recalled and/or confiscated mercury-containing cosmetics.

If approved, the ordinance will not only ban the trade of cosmetics with mercury content in excess of one ppm, but will also ban the open dumping, open burning and/or disposal of banned, recalled and/or confiscated mercury-containing cosmetics along with regular municipal solid waste.

Proposed penalties include a fine of P2,000 for the first offense, a fine of P3,000 and suspension of business for the second offense, and a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment of 30 days, and cancellation of business license, or both, for the third offense.

In addition, all those convicted by the court will also be required to render 30 days of community service.

The ASEAN Cosmetic Directive prohibits mercury in cosmetic product formulations and sets a maximum limit of one ppm for mercury as a contaminant in cosmetics.  

The Minamata Convention on Mercury has also scheduled the global phase-out by 2020 of cosmetics, including skin lightening creams and soaps, with mercury content above one ppm.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring.  Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections.”

“Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy,” the FDA said.

It also warned that “the transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopmental deficits later in life.”