21 April 2018

EcoWaste Coalition, Samahang Sining at Kultura ng Pilipinas, Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice


Free the Earth of plastic pollution! – green groups

A day before the world celebrate this year’s Earth Day, themed “End Plastic Pollution”, Samahang Sining at Kultura ng Pilipinas (SSKPil),  Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice (AESJ) and zero waste advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition joined the rest of the world in calling for an end to plastic pollution.

“It is high time that we free the earth of plastic pollution!” cried the groups during a local two-day Earth Day celebration in Pandacan, Manila, dubbed the Good Earth Day Festival, which was organized by SSKPil in partnership with AESJ and EcoWaste Coalition.

“We are one with nature! What we do to it, we do to ourselves! We pollute it; we pollute ourselves,” lamented Annabelle J. R. Lopez, President of SSKPil, highlighting this year’s theme for the two-day Pandacan event that starts today, “Iisa ang Tao at ang Kalikasan” (Humans and Nature are One).

“Unless we seriously pursue plastic use avoidance and reduction, our children, the future generation will end up playing and walking on plastic wastes sooner or later!,” Lopez continued.

According to the groups, plastic pollution happens when plastic materials are not properly managed, such as by throwing them away or burning them, instead of ecologically managing the same as mandated by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003.

“Plastics can be found almost anywhere and have started to engulf even our waterways beaches and popular tourist spots, places which are supposedly protected from such unwarranted intrusions especially from pollutants,” noted Sixto Carlos, AESJ founder and Board member of SSKPil.

"In Pandacan where we are making efforts to revive Beata River, along the historic romantic river of Balagtas and Celia, one finds never ending piles of plastic items floating among other debris," continued Carlos.  

EcoWaste Coalition Zero Waste Program Officer, Daniel Alejandre, for his part, noted that data from a 2017 waste audit conducted by the international anti-plastic pollution movement Break Free From Plastic along the beaches of Freedom Island, Paranaque City, a protected area, showed that “almost 50% (49.33%) of wastes from collected samples comprise of plastics, 82% of which are disposables.”

The more than 16-year old RA 9003 provides that ‘solid waste avoidance and volume reduction through source reduction and waste minimization’ be among the major policies that should be instituted by local governments, which are the main actor in implementing the said law.

To deal with plastic pollution, the groups highlighted the necessary mainstreaming of zero waste programs and strict implementation of RA 9003 that should start at the barangay level.

The groups continued that Industries can do a lot and should do its part in stopping plastic pollution at the point of manufacturing.

“Industries should green and clean their production processes so that products that they make are safe, non-toxic, and environmentally acceptable,” the green groups voiced out.

All the while, RA 9003 provides for the prohibition on the use of non-environmentally acceptable products, which, according to the law, are those that do not possess the quality of being re-usable, biodegradable, recyclable, and non-toxic to the environment.

“Industries should also institute extended producer responsibility to ensure that each product, at the end of its useful life, return to its manufacturer for appropriate management,” concluded the groups.

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References:

Break Free From Plastic, Waste and Brand Audit in Freedom Island, Powerpoint Presentation, 2017
Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000
https://www.facebook.com/event s/131913394188262 

Singapore bans mercury-laced beauty Cream that is also banned but still sold in PH


A toxics watch group has again reminded consumers to shun an imported skin whitening cosmetic that is sold locally after the Singaporean government alerted the public not to buy or use it due to its mercury content.

On April 20, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore alerted consumers not to purchase or use 18 cosmetic products after testing positive for potent undeclared ingredients such as mercury, hydroquinone and tretinoin.

Among these proscribed products was Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera that the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines and the Ministry of Health of Brunei had banned in October 2017 and March 2018, respectively, for containing mercury above the 1 part per million (ppm) limit set under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

“Despite being banned in the Philippines, Brunei and Singapore, we still find mercury-laden Goree facial creams from Pakistan on sale in online shopping sites and in cosmetic retail stores in Baclaran, Divisoria, Quiapo and even in Davao,” lamented Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

"Consumers should come to their senses and heed the warnings from health authorities, and those behind the proliferation of these injurious  goods in the market should stop at once," he said. 

In tests conducted in February this year, the group detected 25,300 ppm of mercury in one Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera, and 21,800 ppm of mercury in another Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream.

Aside from these Goree products, the EcoWaste Coalition has tracked the unlawful sale of other mercury-tainted cosmetics from Pakistan in Pasay City, including Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, Face Lift Whitening Beauty Cream, Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, Parley Beauty Cream, and Parley Whitening Cream.  

“It’s important for the customs, health and police authorities to take combined law enforcement actions now against the unscrupulous importers, distributors and sellers of these dangerous cosmetics to protect the public health and the environment,” Dizon said.

According to HSA’s health alert, “mercury is a toxic heavy metal and is prohibited for use as an ingredient in cosmetic products.” 

“Regular application of creams containing mercury could lead to rash, skin discoloration and blotching while long-term exposure to high levels of mercury in cosmetic products can cause serious health consequences, including damage to the kidneys, digestive and nervous systems,” the agency warned.


HSA advised consumers to stop using Goree and the other 17 cosmetic products immediately and discard them as they contain high levels of mercury or other undeclared potent ingredients that can lead to serious adverse reactions.

The agency also warned that suppliers of illegal health products are liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 3 years and/or fined up to Singaporean $100,000.

-end-


Reference:

https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.p hp/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/472 052-fda-advisory-no-2017-289

http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/ dam/HSA/News_and_Events/Press_ Releases/2018/PR%2018%20cosmet ic%20pdts%20PQS%20final.pdf

http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/ hsa/en/News_Events/Press_Relea ses/2018/18cosmeticproducts.ht ml

https://www.brudirect.com/news .php?id=43756

18 April 2018

Green groups question Palawan, DOE “waste-to-energy” deal; Warn LGUs on possible “waste-to-energy” scams

NGO coalition No Burn Pilipinas today questioned the legality of the newly signed “waste-to-energy” (WTE) facility deal in Palawan, as they warned cities and municipalities not to be lured by possible WTE scams. The group, which finds the 2.1 billion peso WTE deal in Puerto Princesa dubious, called on the Department of Energy (DOE) and Puerto Princesa City to immediately cancel the contract.

The groups were reacting to the recent report on the contract signing between the DOE, Puerto Princesa City and Austworks Corp., the facility provider for the construction of a so-called “waste-to-energy” plant. Under the deal, Austworks will build a purported “thermal gasification” WTE incinerator in the city’s Sta. Lourdes Sanitary Landfill, as well as well as provide garbage collection services. The WTE plant will supposedly generate 5.5 megawatts of electricity from the city’s 110 metric tons per day of waste.

The coalition No Burn Pilipinas contends that 1) the deal is illegal since waste incineration is banned under Philippine law; 2) the energy—if any—produced by the facility will be miniscule, and claims that the facility will pay for itself from the energy generated is false; and 3) there are no commercially operating thermal gasification WTE incinerators anywhere in the world. Moreover, for a major infrastructure project, no information is available on Austworks’ record or experience in building similar facilities.

“The planned ‘waste-to-energy’ incinerator in Puerto Princesa is patently illegal under Philippine law,” said Ruel Cabile, WTE campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition. “It is a clear violation of the ban on incineration enshrined in the Clean Air Act. It also contravenes the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which the government should be strengthening. Pursuing “waste-to-energy” incineration undermines segregation, recycling and reduction efforts--the very approaches which the government should be supporting.”

For its part, the Palawan chapter of the Environmental Legal Assitance Center (ELAC), noted that Puerto Princesa’s current sanitary landfill was intended to evolve into a Zero Waste management program, as provided in the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued to the Puerto Princesa City government. “The pursuit of WTE would result to a violation of the ECC,” said ELAC Palawan representative Kat Leuch. “We hope that the Puerto Princesa City government can still reconsider its planned incineration project and prioritize Zero Waste management in its development masterplan. Being a hall of fame awardee in the ‘Clean and Green Program’ of the Philippine government, we expect the city government to sustain its environmental protection efforts,” she added.

No Burn Pilipinas partners are further questioning the DOE’s promotion of WTE incineration. “Waste incineration is the most expensive and inefficient way to produce electricity, with construction costing twice that of coal-fired power plants and 60% more than nuclear plants, and operations costing ten times more than coal, and four times more than nuclear,” Glenn Ymata of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice. “WTE incineration is bad for the climate and is not renewable energy; it takes investments away from real energy solutions such as wind and solar.”

Aside from the deal’s illegality, No Burn Pilipinas is doubtful that the facility will actually operate successfully—even if it is constructed. “Gasification plants are among the most complicated and expensive incinerators, and are not recommended as suitable waste treatment facilities in developing countries,” said Lea Guerrero, clean energy campaigner of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. “In fact, no commercial-scale gasification plant meant for the treatment of municipal solid waste exists anywhere in the world. Aside from bad economics, gasification’s history of technical challenges and failures has led to shut downs in operation which have left some cities and taxpayers in debt, paying for prohibitively expensive facilities that never worked.”

Environmental groups say that cities and municipalities should be extremely wary of incinerator companies selling billion peso “quick fix” incinerators. The case of Palawan is not the first WTE deal that seems too good to be true. In 2011, Angeles City was lured into investing in a USD 63 million WTE facility that never materialized. In 2006, the City of San Fernando in Pampanga entered into a contract for a gasification facility that was started but never completed. However, shortly after the failure of the gasification plant, the City of San Fernando chose instead to pursue Zero Waste—and the results were successful. In partnership with Mother Earth Foundation, the city was able to drastically reduce the volume of municipal waste in just six months. In the past, the city brought almost 90% of its waste to landfills. But in the last four years with a Zero Waste program, which includes segregation at source and composting of organics, this figure was reduced to 30%, resulting in huge savings for the city. 

“Zero Waste is still the best approach for the sustainable management of discards,” said Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation. “Waste is a complex problem that can’t be solved by a machine that burns trash and merely converts solid waste to toxic air pollution. The government should support Zero Waste approaches instead of partnering with incinerator companies that sell false solutions to cities and municipalities.”

-end-

17 April 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Reminds Parents to Choose Safe Swimming Toys for Kids


The EcoWaste Coalition reminded parents to go for kid-safe swimming toys as many families head to beaches and pools to seek a breather from the scorching summer heat.

The anti-toxics watch group revealed that some beach and pool balls, floats and rings being sold in the market may contain undisclosed chemicals of concern such as phthalates that are not permitted in children’s toys.

“We advise parents to only buy safe swimming toys that will not pose chemical risk or cause accidental drowning or injuries to young children,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Get your children out of harm’s way, please make them play with phthalate-free swimming toys that are compliant with the government’s regulation,” he said.

Dizon explained that inflatable aquatic toys made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic may contain phthalate additives that are known to interfere with hormonal functions and causing  developmental, reproductive and other health problems, especially among children. 

“As a precaution, the Department of Health (DOH) in 2011 banned certain phthalates in children’s toys.  As early as 1999, the Bureau of Food and Drugs  (now known as the Food and Drug Administration or FDA) warned ‘phthalates in children’s toys particularly those made of soft plastic materials or PVC have been found to leach out from the toys when they are sucked or chewed as commonly practiced by children… (and) may cause adverse health effects such as liver and kidney wounds, reproductive abnormalities and immune system defects’,” he pointed out.

As per DOH Administrative Order 2009-0005-A as amended in December 2011, the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of children’s toys containing more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) is prohibited.

This A.O. further bans diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) in children’s toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth in concentrations above 0.1 percent by weight.

Dizon recalled that in 2015, three of the four swimming toys sent by the EcoWaste Coalition to a private laboratory for phthalate analysis were found to contain high concentrations of DEHP up to 19.6 percnet and DINP up to 1.29 percent in blatant breach of the government’s regulation.

The fourth sample marked “phthalate-free” on the label passed the test – a good indicator that swimming toys can be manufactured without phthalate additives.


For children’s safety, the EcoWaste Coalition further enjoined the public to heed the pointers from FDA on the proper selection of aquatic toys, including checking the label for the age suitability,  item/model/stock keeping unit (SKU) number, warning statements, name and address of manufacturer and license to operate number (LTO No.) of the local company responsible for placing the product in the market.


-end- 

Reference:

15 April 2018

Aspiring Barangay, SK Leaders Urged to Stand Up for the Environment




As thousands line up to file their Certificates of Candidacy, a waste and pollution watch group urged women and men aiming to become Barangay ang Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders to take up the cudgels on behalf of Mother Earth.

“We need grassroots leaders who will inspire and guide our communities to the cause of environmental conservation and protection and make sure that our ‘common home’ is cared for,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As front liners of public service, Barangay and SK leaders have a huge responsibility in making our neighborhoods clean, healthy and safe for everyone, especially for children who are most vulnerable to harm and illness,” he pointed out.

“We need public servants who will help in local government unit (LGU) enforcement of environmental laws and regulations that seek to protect our air, water, soil and our people against damaging and polluting activities,” he said.

One of these laws is Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which emphasizes waste prevention, volume reduction, segregation at source, recycling and composting through the adoption of “best environmental practices in ecological solid waste management excluding incineration.”

As stated in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP for 2017-2022), “LGU compliance with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act has been low and majority of local areas are still unserved by solid waste management (SWM)facilities or materials recovery facilities (MRFs).”   According to the PDP, only 31.28 percent of barangays are covered by SWM facilities and 30.92 percent by MRFs below the 2016 targets of 67.39 percent and 77.10 percent, respectively.”
 
R.A. 9003 requires the establishment of MRFs or ecology centers in every barangay or cluster of barangays “to receive, sort, process and store compostable and recyclable materials efficiently and in an environmentally sound manner.”

“These MRFs have the potential to boost community-driven ecological waste management that will reduce hauling costs, conserve resources, prevent spillage of plastics to water bodies, and foster environmental values among the people,” Alejandre said.

“We hope that those running for the May 14 Barangay and SK polls do recognize the importance of enforcing R.A. 9003 in their localities and their role to get the law implemented,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope that contenders will address garbage and other pressing environmental concerns in their electoral platforms, and that voters will support pro-Mother Earth candidates at the ballot box come polling day.

Last Friday, the EcoWaste Coalition launched its campaign for waste-free Barangay and SK elections outside the headquarters of the Commission on Elections and in the presence of Commissioner Luie Tito Guia.

“As actions speak louder than words, we urge candidates to campaign in a manner that will not misuse resources, dirty the surroundings and cause damage to community health and environment,” the group said.

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