16 August 2018

Paint Industry Leader Reveals Secrets of PH Success in Phasing Out Lead Paints

A highly-respected leader of the country’s thriving paint industry cited the unique collaboration by government, industry and civil society players as a crucial element in the historic phase-out of lead-containing paints in the Philippines. 

Johnson Ongking, Vice-President of Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. and erstwhile President of the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) hailed the multi-stakeholder collaboration for enabling the phase-out of lead paint, a major source of childhood lead exposure.

At a recent forum held in Jakarta, Ongking impressed upon the Indonesian audience the good results of the tripartite partnership involving the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PAPM and its member paint manufacturers and raw materials suppliers, and the non-profit EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN, which both advocate for a toxics-free future for all.

The said forum was organized by Balifokus and IPEN as part of the groups’ campaign to establish effective laws and standards eliminating lead paints to safeguard the health of children, women, and workers, and protect the environment.

“The key to the success in the Philippine experience was the trust and cooperation between industry, civil society and the government in working towards a common goal – to eliminate lead paint and protect future generations of Filipinos,” said Ongking, who encouraged the Indonesian paint industry to take the lead in working with other stakeholders to having legal prohibitions against lead paint by 2020.

“Having a law prohibiting lead paint is one time where regulation is in the industry’s interest, and it is much better for the industry to work together with regulators to prove to all stakeholders that the paint industry is a responsible one, and to prevent potential future costs for the industry and to society.”

According to IPEN, “children who are exposed to lead in paint suffer irreversible neurological damage that limits their future success and happiness, and limits their ability to be positive, contributing citizens to their countries.”

Studies have also shown that children with high lead levels in their blood are more likely to suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), underperform in school and more likely to become adult criminals.

Loss of IQ due to lead exposure results in an overall loss of lifetime earnings, which leads to a significant economic impact on a country.  According to the report “Economic Costs of Childhood Lead Exposure in Low-and Middle-Income Countries” by New York University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics (NYU), lead exposure costs the Philippines more than US$ 15 billion (almost PHP 700 billion) annually.

Ongking, who is also a member of the Advisory Board of the UN-backed Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (Lead Paint Alliance), emphasized that phasing out lead in paint requires full industry cooperation to keep a “level playing field.” Some paint companies are afraid that if they switch to lead safe paints and their competitors don’t, they will lose sales to those that don’t make the switch. So it’s important that all the paint companies make the switch together.”

Moreover, he pointed out that this traditional industry focus on lower cost may not accurately reflect consumer preferences with regard to lead paint. “It’s probably a mistaken assumption that if you gave a homeowner the choice to buy lead paint for a lower price or lead safe paint for a higher price, that they would choose the cheaper product. I don’t think there’s too many homeowners who would spend their hard earned money to expose their family to lead. On the other hand, I think many people would be willing to pay a premium to make sure their families were not exposed to lead poisoning. It’s an opportunity for paint companies to move not just to safer products, but higher value paint products.  Switching to lead safe paints is a win for both manufacturers and customers.”

“Lead paint is a small component of total paint sales yet has the potential to completely destroy customer trust and confidence in our industry,” he added. “We industry people know that water based paints, which is the majority of our sales, has no lead, but consumers don’t know that. If they hear about lead paint in the news, they’re going to think all paints have lead, so even sales of paint without lead will suffer too.”

He also pointed out that unless lead paints were eliminated, their presence would overshadow all the eco-friendly paint innovations that the industry has developed – from low odor paints to paints that help clean the air and reflect sunlight to lower carbon usage. Thus, it is in the industry’s interest to take a pro-active stance to eliminate lead paint just as the Philippine paint industry did.

“PAPM’s 23 member paint manufacturers, which cover over 95% of the country’s total paint production, understood that continued use of lead in paint would damage the reputation of the whole industry and that the phase-out had to be an industry-wide endeavor,” he said.

In 2011, the Ecowaste Coalition, with support from PAPM, petitioned the DENR to develop a regulation on lead in paint.  After a series of consultations and technical working group meetings, the DENR in 2013 issued the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which provides for the phase-out of lead-containing paints used for decorative as well as industrial applications. He informed the audience that one tool they could use to assist their process was use the Model Law that the Lead Paint Alliance has provided for countries like Indonesia to use as a template for their regulation to phase out lead paint.

To further ensure a level playing field, PAPM organized a series of technical workshops to enable paint formulators of all its members to be equally informed of safe and cost-effective alternatives to lead based raw materials. This was a key part of capacity building that he hoped the Indonesian paint industry association would likewise provide its members.

“The Philippine experience shows that the paint industry doesn’t need to be the bad guys. If all paint companies works quickly to stop making lead paint, the paint industry will come out of this as the good guys. On the other hand, if the industry does nothing and continues to produce lead paint that will damage the future of customers and the industry, then the paint industry will be the bad guys,” he told his counterparts from the Indonesian paint industry. 

“Do we want to be known as a responsible industry that did the right thing once we found out we were doing something wrong? Or do we want to be remembered as an industry that knowingly harmed our children for the sake of lower cost? We can choose to be heroes or the bad guys. I think you will agree, it is an easy choice,” he said.

One of the biggest problems regarding lead paint is that in countries where lead paints are not banned, there is no way for consumers to know whether the paint they’re buying contains lead or not. One way for paint companies to inform consumers that their paint brands were free of lead was to obtain third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification that ensured the lead content of their products does not exceed the total lead content limit of 90 parts per million (ppm), the legal limit set by the Philippines as well as the United States, Canada, India, Nepal, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Just as the presence of lead paint can do disproportionate damage to a paint brand, Ongking mentioned that Lead Safe Paint® certification could provide a ‘halo effect’ that would gain consumer trust not just for the reformulated paint products that formerly contained lead, but for the whole certified brand.  Pacific Paints’ Boysen, Nation, Titan and Virtuoso Silk paint brands are among the first in the world to secure certification under this first-ever global Lead Safe Paint® certification program. Other brands certified as lead-safe under this program are Davies (Philippines), Multilac (Sri Lanka) and Elite (Bangladesh).

He also encouraged the Indonesian paint association as well as the individual paint companies to become partners of the Lead Paint Alliance to signify their commitment to eliminate lead paint.

Ongking noted the role of civil society groups such as the Ecowaste Coalition and IPEN as “incredibly valuable.” Among other things, the NGOs contributed to raising awareness on the dangers of lead paint by conducting lead paint studies and organizing public information activities, by promoting compliance to the lead paint regulation, monitoring breaches, and encouraging corrective actions, by promoting independent, third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification in collaboration with PAPM, and by pushing for supplemental directives enjoining mandatory use of lead-safe paints.



“Lead Paint Elimination and Lead Safe Paint® Certification: The Philippine Experience,” Johnson Ongking, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Groups Back Stoppage of Quarrying Operations in Rizal, Push for the Protection of the Sierra Madre to Avert Floods and Landslides

Environmental conservation and protection groups welcomed the government’s plan to stop quarrying operations in Rizal province following the destructive flooding in Marikina City and other areas brought about by intense torrential monsoon rains.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday ordered to suspend quarrying activities in Rodriguez and San Mateo after Ondoy-like floods hit these disaster-prone towns in Rizal and the nearby city of Marikina whose chief executive Mayor Marcelino Teodoro  on Wednesday appealed for the revocation, not mere suspension, of quarrying permits in upstream communities to prevent floods and landslides.

“We have again witnessed nature’s wrath as raging waters damaged homes and besieged communities with mud and garbage.  The Ondoy-like tragedy came as no surprise given the steady obliteration of the Marikina watershed and the Sierra Madre by quarrying and other detrimental activities such as waste dumping,” observed Noli Abinales, Chairperson, Buklod Tao, a community group in San Mateo.

“Stopping quarrying operations is a critical policy that has to be enforced.  This has to be supplemented by other measures that will disallow reckless land conversion that is eating up farms and forests in this bastion of biodiversity," he said. 

"Ang kabundukan ng Sierra Madre ay hindi dapat tinitibag, minimina, tinotroso o tinatambakan ng basura lalo't hindi ito dapat gawing pamayanan ng mga dayong di katutubo upang mapanatili ang balanse ng kalikasan.  Ang mga burak, putik at mga kahoy na rumagasa mula sa kabundukan na nagpalubog sa mga kabayanan ng Rizal, Bulacan at Metro Manila ay isa muling paala-ala ng ating kawalang pitagan sa Sierra Madre noong Ondoy 2009 na halos maulit ulit nitong mga nakaraang araw ng ulang Habagat," said Bro. Martin Francisco, Chairperson, Save Sierra Madre Environmental Institute (SSMEI).

Fr. Pete Montallana, Chairperson of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance (SSMNA), pressed for the protection of the fragile forests of the Sierra Madre to enable the biodiversity-rich mountain range to protect Luzon from severe weather disturbances.    

“Sierra Madre’s capacity to shield  our communities from storms, rains and floods has been weakened by damaging human activities.  To enable her to protect us, decisive action is needed to put an end to activities that defile and destroy the Sierra Madre such as the unchecked logging and quarrying, as well as projects that destroy the forest biodiversity and violate the indigenous people’s rights,” he said.

“We need to stop the logging, mining, quarrying and dumping activities in the Sierra Madre to save her from unabated destruction, which is the root cause of the damaging floods,” he emphasized.

Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, further emphasized the need to protect the Sierra Madre from garbage disposal activities that contribute to its environmental degradation.

"Waste prevention and reduction is very much needed to cut the volume of garbage sent to dumpsites and landfills that are regrettably sited in the Sierra Madre.  The enforcement of ecological solid waste management, as embodied in R.A. 9003, especially in cities and towns that haul their garbage to the Sierra Madre is essential if we are to stop its further degradation due to dumping, quarrying and other destructive activities," he said.


15 August 2018

Proposed QC Measure Banning Mercury-Laden Skin Whiteners Hurdled Committee Hearing

An ordinance that will protect consumers, especially women and girls, against skin lightening products contaminated with mercury has successfully hurdled the hearing by the Quezon City Council’s Committee on Health and Sanitation.

At the committee hearing held yesterday, August 14, the committee unanimously approved Proposed Ordinance 20CC-439 entitled “An Ordinance Banning the Manufacture, Distribution, and Sale of Mercury-Containing Skin Whitening Cosmetics in Quezon City.”

The said ordinance was co-introduced by Councilors Elizabeth Delartmente, Diorella Maria Sotto-Antonio, Irene Belmonte, Kate Abigael Galang- Coseteng, Eufemio Lagumbay, Eric Medina and Marivic Co-Pilar.

As adopted by the committee, PO20CC-439 seeks “to ensure strict compliance by business and commercial establishments, as well as street, tiangge and online vendors, to the national regulation banning the sale of cosmetics containing mercury above the  one part per million (ppm) limit set by the Food and Drug Administration in line with the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.”

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

Citing information from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment, Councilor Delarmente stated that “mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects including skin rashes, discoloring and scarring, reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic disorders, and cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys.” 

Speaking at the committee hearing, Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, conveyed the group’s support to the enactment of the ordinance, which, if passed and enforced, will help in curbing the illegal sale of mercury-laden cosmetics in Quezon City.

“We hope the City Council will include the passage of the said ordinance among its top priorities as toxic mercury-laden skin lightening products are hazardous to health and the environment,” he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition has been tracking mercury in cosmetics since 2011 and, on numerous instances, found prohibited products being sold in some retail outlets, particularly in Commonwealth, Cubao, and Novaliches.

In June 2018, for example, the group exposed the unlawful sale of FDA-banned Goree, Erna, JJJ and S’Zitang skin whitening creams costing P100 to P300 each by retailers in Cubao.

The said cosmetics were found to contain mercury in the range of 521 to 21,100 ppm, way above the maximum limit of 1 ppm.


12 August 2018

Trash Thrown Back by Manila Bay: A Retribution for Reckless Disposal

A waste and pollution watch group denounced thoughtless waste disposal as garbage from Manila Bay spilled onto Roxas Boulevard yesterday due to the heavy monsoon rains and strong waves enhanced by tropical storm Karding.

The EcoWaste Coalition described the mess along the famous thoroughfare as a clear indictment of society’s failure to unlearn reckless disposal and to learn the environment-friendly way of managing discards.

“The heaps of trash sent back by the angry bay should rouse everyone, especially litterbugs, from the seeming lack of environmental awareness and responsibility,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

"The message is clear: We must stop treating Manila Bay like a garbage dump.  We must unlearn the bad habit of throwing discards anywhere to prevent the bay from tossing garbage on us,” he emphasized.

“The largely plastic waste materials washed by the bay should further remind us of the need to undo the practice of producing, buying, using and disposing of single-use plastics and other disposables,” he said.

"Manufacturers, in particular, need to find alternatives to throw-away plastic packaging that is polluting water bodies like Manila Bay with plastics and chemicals," he added

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the garbage surge in Roxas Boulevard is more than an eyesore.

“Irresponsibly thrown discards can lead to a wide range of problems, including poor hygiene and sanitation, flashfloods, leptospirosis, dengue and other diseases, human exposure to hazardous substances, ocean pollution, and economic losses,” Alejandre said.

To prevent and reduce garbage, the group encouraged the public to observe these eco-tips:

1.  Never throw garbage on streets, storm drains, creeks and vacant lots. 

2.  Segregate discards at source, reuse, recycle and compost.

3.  Do not leave garbage outside your home or workplace; wait for the waste collection service to come. 

4. Discourage others from dumping trash, including  tiny but toxic cigarette butts.

5.  Buy in bulk as much as possible, avoid buying products in excessive packaging or in sachet packs, and opt for items in reusable or recyclable containers.

The ecological management of discards will require a shift from the outmoded ‘buy, consume, dispose of, dump or burn’ mentality to a sustainable way of living that embraces environmental conservation, protection and care,” the group said.


10 August 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Closure of Open Dump in Mapandan, Pangasinan

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental health group, has petitioned the national government to order the closure of an illegal municipal dumpsite in Mapandan, Pangasinan.

Reacting to the concerns raised by affected residents of Barangay Primicias of this town, the EcoWaste Coalition today wrote to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to plea for the closure of the open dump and its proper clean-up and rehabilitation.

“We look forward to the immediate issuance of a cease and desist order directing the Office of Mayor Gerald Glenn Tambaoan to halt open dumping in Barangay Primicias and to abide by the requirements of R.A. 9003,” wrote Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu and DILG Secretary Eduardo Año.

“The open dump does not fit the good image of Mapandan, which is considered as one of the ‘cleanest, safest and greenest’ municipalities in Pangasinan,” he told the Secretaries. 

The open dump is allegedly operated by the local government unit in contravention of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which, among other requirements, bans the establishment or operation of open dumps. 

R.A. 9003, particularly Section 37, requires the closure of open dumps by February 2004 and controlled dumps by February 2006.

Open dumps such as the one that operates in Mapandan is, as per R.A. 9003, “a disposal area wherein the solid wastes are indiscriminately thrown or disposed of without due planning and consideration for environmental and health standards.”

Based on the information received, the open dump was once a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that degenerated into a filthy dumping ground attracting flies and emitting unbearable stench.  

“Community residents are worried they will get sick or contract diseases due to the unlawful operation of the open dumpsite,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The open dumpsite is located not far from residential houses, an elementary school and a secondary school.

R.A. 9003 provides for a comprehensive and eco-friendly approach to managing discards mainly through waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting, excluding waste incineration.

“The law emphasizes waste avoidance and volume reduction through the adoption of best practices in ecological waste management and definitely not open dumping," Alejandre noted.



https://www.lawphil.net/statut es/repacts/ra2001/ra_9003_2001 .html