25 May 2007

Churches Unite to Denounce Cavite Waste Incinerator Facility

TRECE MARTIREZ CITY, CAVITE - Catholic and Protestant churches joined the different communities in Cavite to oppose the impending resumption of operation of a pyrolysis waste treatment in this city. Different environmental groups have proven that the facility is an incinerator technology hiding under a different name, and thus undermines the health of the surrounding communities and environment.

More than five hundred people trooped to the provincial office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to voice their call to the said agency to uphold the incineration ban as stated by the Clean Air Act, and permanently stop the operation of the incinerator plant being operated by the Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMI) and owned by the Lina Group of Companies.

The mass protest was spearheaded by the Catholic Church Diocese of Imus, United Churches of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Cavite and the ecogroups Cavite Green Coalition and EcoWaste Coalition. The protesters also handed a petition signed by more than five thousand CaviteƱos calling for the permanent closure of the dirty technology waste facility. Copies of the petition were also handed to the heads of the provincial and city government.

“The petition is to send a clear signal to the provincial leadership that the people of Cavite are displeased with the noncommittal attitude of the local government toward the issue. With this petition, we are calling for an end to the prevarication on this important issue," said Pastor Noel Roxas of the UCCP-Cavite.

Father Von Arellano of St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in Trece Martires said that the local Catholic Church is concerned that the operation of the incinerator exposes the surrounding communities to harmful emissions coming from the waste treatment facility.

"Poor communities are often the ones who pay the heaviest price for ecological deterioration," said Arellano.

The IWMI treated medical wastes of major hospitals of Metro Manila. In 2004, the operation of the plant was suspended by virtue of a cease-and-desist order issued by DENR for years of operation without a single pollution control device. The operation of the plant was again suspended in 2005 due to failure to submit the results of required emission tests.

In an independent test commissioned by the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) in 2005, the eggs of free-range chicken living near the IWMI were found to have levels of dioxin that exceeded more than three times the limit set by the European Union (EU). The level of polychlorinated biphenyl or PCBs, a highly-carcinogenic chemical, found in the eggs also exceeded the proposed EU limit.

“Incinerators are known to emit harmful pollutants like dioxins and furans, which are carcinogenic and are known to mimic the action of hormones in the human body. Repeated daily exposures to pollutants emitted by incinerators, even at low levels, can irreparably harm the immune system and cause developmental problems in children,” said Ochie Tolentino of the Cavite Green Coalition.

Meanwhile, Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle of the Diocese of Imus also expressed his opposition to the resumption of the said waste facility and asked Trece Martires Mayor Melencio De Sagun Jr. to exercise his prerogative as the city head and deny the permit of IWMI.

Various environmental advocacy groups that joined the CaviteƱos to press for the enforcement of the incineration ban are the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, and the Sagip Pasig Movement.


For more inquries, please contact Ochie Tolentino at 0918-4221769 or the EcoWaste Coalition at (02) 929-0376 or email at ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com.


EcoWaste Coalition

Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

22 May 2007

Back-to-school Eco Tips for Students and Parents

As the Department of Education (DepEd) braces itself for the resumption of regular classes at all levels, the environmental groups Add Up! Volunteers and the EcoWaste Coalition have teamed up to produce a list of eco-tips that can guide parents and students in preventing trash and saving
precious money for back-to-school needs.


Add Up! is a group of young volunteers who have bonded together to do their share in nation building. It is a member of the EcoWaste Coalition, a network that is promoting zero waste resource management for environmental health and justice.


By coming up with "green tips," Add Up! and the EcoWaste Coalition hope to tackle the two-fold challenges of stretching the tight family budget for education in light of the purchasing pressure, and minimizing the waste and pollution ensuing from impulsive consumption.


The groups explained that the usual back-to-school spending spree has environmental costs that are seldom considered when parents of the country’s over 22 million students troop to the bookstores, shopping malls or to the famed Divisoria budget market to buy brand-new notebooks, pens,
bags, shoes and uniforms.


Data obtained from DepEd’s website show that the country has some 13,825,744 pre-school and elementary students, and some 6,267,015 secondary students. There are about 2.4 million students enrolled in various colleges and universities.


Aside from making a dent on the parents’ wallets, the crass commercialism that characterizes the school opening also contributes to climate change. Every time we buy something, the groups pointed out, fossil fuel energy has gone into producing that item and getting it to us. The burning of
fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas and petrol to produce the energy is
driving climate change.


By following the "green tips," consumers delay or eliminate the need to extract more raw materials and manufacture new products and consequently reduce the demand for fossil fuels and minimize the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the
atmosphere.

Add Up! and the EcoWaste Coalition encourage parent and student consumers to heed these "green tips," share these with friends and encourage everyone in the school and community to make waste prevention, reduction and recycling a part of their daily lives to save Mother Nature and beat
climate change.



SCHOOL BOOKS

* Check with your schoolmates and friends if they have textbooks and reference materials that you can borrow. If the assigned textbooks are the same edition as last year, try to borrow from someone your senior. Remember to take extra care of these borrowed books and to return them at the end of the school year.

* If you need to buy books, why not comb the second-hand bookstores first in the University Belt to cut on book expenses. Reusing books saves money and reduces waste.

* Reuse magazine covers, gift wrappers or grocery bags to cover your books
to keep them in good condition and to cut on waste.

* Take care of your books and refrain from writing or drawing on them unless needed so you can pass clean books to friends and relatives next year.

* Donate your old fiction and non-fiction books and textbooks to school or community libraries, and share the light of knowledge to marginalized children.


SCHOOL SUPPLIES

* Before heading to your favorite store or to Divisoria for the "bagsak-presyo" school opening sale, first sort through your materials and list what you already have as many of them can still be reused or recycled. Gather the clean sheets from your old notebooks and rewire or
sew them to create your own personalized notebooks. Reuse scrap paper as lecture or research notes.

* If you have to shop for new school supplies, look for products that are made from recycled materials as using products with recycled materials minimizes waste and saves money too. Read the product labels and choose non-toxic products that are safer to health and the environment.

* Patronize locally-produced school supplies, and avoid cheap imports that have now flooded the market. You do not only support the local industry, but also lessen the fossil fuel energy used to transport things.

* Select durable school supplies that can be easily reused, recycled, repaired or refilled for many years such as refillable pens and notebooks and reusable folders and binders. This will help reduce the amount of discards that is thrown to the bin.

* Bring a reusable carry bag when you shop. Join the growing league of
consumers that are saying no to plastic bag pollution!



SCHOOL UNIFORMS

* Try on your old set of uniforms first before thinking of buying new ones. Go to your neighborhood "modista" for the minor alterations that may be required.

* Instead of buying a new pair of shoes, your old ones may just work the same. Have the defects, if any, fixed by your friendly "sapatero" for minimal cost.



SCHOOL BAON

* Bring your own reusable water jug so you don’t have to buy bottled water
and sugar-filled beverages and juices.

* Bring native "kakanin" and healthy food for snacks packed in reusable
containers to avoid junk food in plastic wrappers. Stay away from styrofoam and other throw-away plastic disposables.

* Replace disposable paper napkin with reusable rag or towelette, and save trees.


SCHOOL TRANSPORT

Arrange for a car pool early. Use public transport or school bus instead of your own car. If you can, bike to school. Walking, cycling, carpooling or taking the public transportation saves fuel, minimize air pollution and reduce traffic congestion.


Add Up! and the EcoWaste Coalition invite all students, parents and teachers to welcome the new school year with the well-being of the environment in mind.


For more information, please call the EcoWaste Coalition at (02) 9290376.





EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

16 May 2007

GUIDELINES FOR ZERO WASTE FIESTAS: Towards a Zero Waste Celebration of Faith and Life

Our country, the Philippines, is truly the “Fiesta Islands.” Across the length and breadth of our 42,000 barangays, countless festivals are celebrated yearly often in honor of a community’s patron saint. As a central event in the community life, the fiesta is marked with a profusion of religious rites and devotions, colors and glitters, and festivities carried out with utmost delight, spending spree and typical wastefulness.

Fiestas bring people together in a celebration of our rich cultural heritage, enabling families, neighbors and communities to rekindle the spiritual ties, to honor ethnic roots and renew relationships, to feed and entertain guests, and to partake in a spectacle of drama, excitement and fun.

While the Comite de Festejos elaborately plan for the various activities to mark our religious heritage, the fiesta’s environmental impacts are hardly ever considered. Unknown to many, our customary feasts and rites, fairs and concerts, parades and pageants, caracol (street dancing), fireworks displays and even our salo-salo can severely spoil the environment, set off pollution and climate change.

For instance, the wasteful use of materials, electricity and water, the penchant for single-use plastic and other disposables, the lack of ecological system for reducing and managing discards, the bursting of firecrackers or the burning of used plastic buntings or PVC-coated tarpaulin can cause stress and damage to our ecosystems and impair the health of humans and other creatures that inhabit the Mother Earth with climate changing greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other harmful chemicals.

From being unmindful of the environmental consequences of our vibrant community celebrations, the Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines (or the EcoWaste Coalition) invites the churches, fiesta organizers, local authorities, families and other concerned sectors and groups to pay serious attention in reducing the fiesta’s health and environmental impacts, and strive to transform the fiesta into a “zero waste celebration of life.”

To assist the Comite de Festejos and others involved in organizing the fiesta, we offer some ideas and recommendations as to how we can celebrate without causing further damage to our ecosystems that are crying for healing and protection. As the Bishops said in their most thought-provoking pastoral letter on ecology:

This is our home; we must care for it, watch over it, protect it and love it. We must be particularly careful to protect what remains of our forests, rivers, and corals and to heal, wherever we can, the damage which has already been done.”

The relationship which links God, human beings and all the community of the living together is emphasized in the covenant which God made with Noah after the flood. The rainbow which we still see in the sky is a constant reminder of this bond and challenge (Gen 9:19). This covenant recognizes the very close bonds which bind living forms together in what are called ecosystems. The implications of this covenant for us today are clear. As people of the covenant, we are called to protect endangered ecosystems, like our forests, mangroves and coral reefs and to establish just human communities in our land.” (CBCP Pastoral Letter on Ecology, “What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land,” 1988)

We can make our fiesta a fitting expression of our communion as stewards of Mother Nature by striving to reduce waste to zero or darn near, preventing all forms of pollution, conserving water, electricity and other resources, and saving funds for basic needs and charities.


I. PLAN THE FEAST WITH THE ENVIRONMENT IN MIND

Put the environmental concerns in the consciousness of the Comite de Festejos and agree on implementing steps towards an ecological fiesta. Identify the health and environmental consequences of each activity being planned, and seek ways for minimizing, if not eliminating, their adverse effects to community health and environment.


II. GET THE COMMUNITY INFORMED, EXCITED AND ENGAGED

Tap all available means to educate community members about the intent to make the fiesta environment-friendly. Spread the news through the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), lay associations and movements. Involve the Barangay Captain and her/his kagawad and tanod, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and the neighborhood associations. Go all-out to organize a broad constituency for the initiative. A youth-driven community information and clean up drive will contribute to raising public awareness and generate interest and support for a “green” fiesta, especially among the young people. Volunteers from the SK and other youth groups can form themselves into “ecowaste patrols” to ensure that ecological practices in managing discards are duly observed, particularly in key fiesta events.


III. WALK THE TALK – “GREEN” THE CHURCH

Together with the Priest and the Parish Pastoral Council, demonstrate the genuine commitment of the Church to bring about changes for the benefit of the environment. What the Church does will hopefully filter down into making the homes and other community institutions ecological havens as well. These are some concrete measures that the Parish can do to “green” the Church.

  • Implement a green procurement policy (e.g., buy products that use less packaging and are reusable or easily recyclable in the community).

  • Segregate and recycle discarded resources from the Church premises, including offices, canteen, toilet etc. Compost - do not burn – dried up flowers, fallen leaves and garden trimmings.

  • Establish the Parish Ecology Center (EC) or Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where church members can bring recyclable materials that can later be sold to support church scholars or other benevolent endeavors. The Parish EC or MRF should have a storage space for clean recyclables, a composting area and, if space allows, a garden where vegetables or flowers can be grown organically using the byproduct compost.

  • Respond to the socio-economic, health, spiritual and other basic needs of local waste pickers by integrating them into the Parish ecology program and exploring potential partnership for safe and sustainable livelihood.

  • Adopt a policy of not using Styrofoam or plastic disposables for all Church functions, including meetings, fellowships and formation programs as well as baptismal, birthday and wedding receptions and funeral wakes held in Church facilities.

  • Implement a “Say No to Plastic Bags” policy in the Parish store and persuade parishioners to go for bayong or other reusable carry bags made of cloth or recycled discards.

  • Opt for energy-efficient compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) and in the long-term plan for a solar-powered Church.


IV. GO FOR ZERO WASTE RITES AND EVENTS

What the late Jaime Cardinal Sin said on the occasion of the 4th World Meeting of Families in 2003 that was hosted by the Philippines remains relevant in our day. Cardinal Sin exhorted the faithful to make the global assembly a “zero waste celebration of life,” outlining four basic steps such as 1) minimize the creation of waste by using as few resources as possible at the various events, 2) avoid using plastic and disposable items, 3) separate discards into biodegradable and non-biodegradable, and 4) put them into their proper containers to facilitate recycling and make simpler the work of cleaners and collectors. “By doing the above, we affirm the role of the Family and the Church as stewards of His creation (Gen. 2:19-20) and proclaim our oneness in choosing life so that our heirs and we will live (Dt. 30:19-20). By ensuring that nothing is wasted (Jn. 6;12), we make it known that the Christian Family is an active participant in healing and restoring the beauty of our ravaged land,” explained Cardinal Sin.

Towards a “zero waste celebration of life,” consider the following:

a. Fairs and Events. Prevent the creation of waste in festive activities such as variety shows, beauty pageants, talent contests and street parties. At the minimum, event organizers should be responsible in arranging for recycling stations with clearly labeled bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards. Volunteers should be designated in every recycling station to encourage and guide the public on the proper sorting of their discards. Food concessionaires and vendors should be persuaded against using disposable containers and utensils, and encouraged to use reusable or biodegradable alternatives such as banana leaves.

b. Banners. PVC-coated tarpaulin is widely used as banner or billboard for announcing fiesta activities. When it is no more useful, the material is discarded, dumped and often burned along with other unwanted materials, releasing highly toxic chemicals such as dioxins. Canvass, coco cloth and taffeta can be used instead for making streamers. Better still, opt for more creative methods for public information such as house-to-house visitation, street theater in public market or plaza, “wall news” using old calendars or posters etc.

c. Buntings. Colorful banderitas flutter the Church patio and the streets during fiesta time. The banderitas of today are mostly made from product advertisements in plastic, thin plastic carry bags, and plastic straws and strings. After the fiesta, the buntings end up being dumped or burned. It is also not uncommon for the bungtings to be left hanging on the streets until the materials drop or are blown away. In lieu of plastic buntings, the Comite de Festejos can tap neighborhood tailors to sew reusable buntings from fabric scraps. Alternatively, colored cloth banners hanging or drooping from bamboo poles can be used to create the festive spirit. Do not forget to remove, wash and store the reusable buntings and banners for future use. Decorations fashioned out from locally available biodegradable materials, like the colorful “kiping” of Lucban, Quezon, should be promoted.

d. Candles. Burning too much candles in a poorly ventilated setting can be bad for the lungs and trigger respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Lit just enough candles and improve ventilation to minimize pollution. Refrain from using candles that produce excessive soot that can aggravate respiratory illnesses. Steer clear of candles with metal wicks, which may contain harmful chemicals such as lead. Collect melted candles for recycling. To cut on church expense for candles, make lamps from used cooking oil.

e. Flowers. It is customary to offer flowers and adorn the Church with intricate arrangements of blooms and leaves, which should be composted later, or, if suitable, dried and used for decorating cards or as air freshener. Refrain from adding unnecessary plastic ribbon and wrap to flower offerings. The use of pesticides in cut flowers is a serious health and environmental matter. As a substitute to pesticide-laden flowers, the Church can encourage parishioners to offer or lend home-grown plants and flowers for a truly “green” offering.

f. Processions. The fiesta culminates with a solemn candlelight procession in honor of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother or the patron Saint of the parish. Such display of devotion and piety can be potentially damaging due to particle pollution from burning candles and torches, bursting firecrackers and littering. To lessen the environmental impacts of processions, we can use fewer and better candles. Daylight procession will, of course, lessen the need for candles. Do not lit up firecrackers and litter the Church patio and processional route. Use rechargeable batteries, if needed, to light up the carroza.

g. Fireworks. Lighting firecrackers releases assorted chemicals and fine particulates that aggravate the air quality, causing throat and chest congestion and other health problems, notably for people with asthma and chemical allergies. Noise-sensitive groups suffer a lot from exploding firecrackers. Firecrackers are unnecessary and money spent for buying them can be saved to pay for essential needs.

h. Sounds. Enjoy the event with good music but be mindful of the noise you create. Consider your neighbors when you pump up your karaoke's volume. Exposure to loud noise in a longer period can be detrimental to one's hearing acuity.

i. Parlor Games. Select fun games that will not cause physical injuries to contestants and spectators alike. Food is sacred, so refrain from wasting edible stuff such as eggs and eggplants, for fun games. Have fun without wasting food that should be eaten or shared with the needy. Eating contests are fine, so long as nothing is wasted. As for the game prizes, organizers may consider giving away gifts unwrapped. If presents need to be wrapped, use reusable basket, bandana or cloth bags.


V. WASTE NOT THE SALO-SALO

Simple planning and creativity can lead to a gratifying greener and fairer time-honored fiesta salo-salo. Here are some practical ideas on how to feed your guests without ripping your purse or causing injuries to Mother Earth:

  • Plan the menu and only buy what is necessary to prepare sufficient servings for your household members and visitors.

  • Buy condiments in bulk and store in reusable bottles, shakers or dispensers.

  • Serve food in reusable plates, and avoid using throwaway Styrofoam, plastic cup and cutlery to cut on expense and waste.

  • If reusable plates are not enough, opt for banana leaves placed on a native plate (e.g., neto) in lieu of single-use paper plates.

  • Use cloth napkins that can be washed and used again in future occasions.

  • Offer water or healthy drinks made from lemon grass (tanlad), young coconut (buko) with pandan, ginger (salabat) with calamansi. Serve water or drinks in reusable cups or glasses.

  • Share excess food to neighbors. Reach out to the homeless and those lacking in food and nutrition.

  • Save food discards for animal consumption or composting.

  • Segregate and recycle discarded resources. Do not mix, dump or burn your discards.

  • Decorate with plants and other greenery instead of plastic banners or balloons.


Go for an earth-friendly fiesta! For more information, please contact the Ecowaste Coalition at 9290376 or e-mail us at ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com



EcoWaste Coalition

Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

15 May 2007

Green Group Pushes for Post-Campaign Cleanup

QUEZON CITY, Philippines. “Win or lose, please remove your campaign propaganda materials without delay.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, a network of non-profit groups working on waste and pollution issues, made this plea during a combined clean-up drive along Del Monte and Roosevelt Avenues with Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte, Rep. Bingbong Crisologo, the city’s Environmental Protection and Solid Waste Department and other agencies. Among the volunteers were Super WA (Walang Aksaya or Zero Waste), the EcoWaste Coalition's champ in its waste-free election drive, and 5-year-old Jacie Odiver, Little Miss Earth 2007 with her parents.

“Now that the people have spoken through the ballots, we call on all political parties, party list groups and candidates to waste no time in tidying up all the poster-plastered trees, walls and electric posts. We cannot just leave the post-campaign cleanup to our overworked street sweepers,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We ask the Commission on Elections to oblige all candidates to comply with their civic duty to conduct post-election cleanup, as both winners and losers tend to forget to take down their political advertisements,” added Panaligan.

Every group and individual who ran in the recently-concluded elections, regardless of their polling performance, should actively lead the post-election cleanup, including removing all campaign posters and banners and recycling the trash, stated the EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition reminded government cleaners and party workers not to burn or dump collected campaign materials, but to exert every effort to salvage and recycle them. Open burning and open dumping, the group pointed out, violate the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and pose serious health threats to workers and residents.

Considering the volume of campaign posters printed and used during the three-month campaign period, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed the need for multi-sectoral cooperation to clean up and restore the messy landscape, with political groups and candidates taking the lead.

It will be recalled that on February 9 the EcoWaste Coalition launched its campaign to prevent and reduce campaign trash with the support of COMELEC Commissioner Rene Sarmiento and Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

During the last three months, the Coalition actively raised awareness and mobilized support for waste-free polls.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.

Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

08 May 2007

Communities Seek Closure of Waste Incinerator for Safety and Health


CAVITE, Philippines. Concerned citizens of Trece Martires City flocked to the residence of re-electionist Mayor Melencio “Jun” de Sagun on 5 May 2007 to ask him to take firm action against a waste incineration facility that has been the subject of a long-standing complaint by anti-pollution groups in Cavite and Metro Manila.


Following a citizens’ forum at the Trece Martires City Elementary School that tackled the health and safety hazards of incinerating waste and of living next to an incinerator plant, the participants walked quietly under the scorching sun to meet the mayor.


Mayor de Sagun confirmed, to the relief of the residents, that his office has not renewed the incinerator company’s business permit. He expressed his interest to receive documents to guide him in making an informed decision that will put the drawn out issue to rest.


The forum jointly organized by the Cavite Green Coalition and the Ecology Ministry of St. Jude Parish gathered some 80 people, including mothers and their children who are considered most vulnerable to cancer-causing dioxins and other extremely har
mful pollutants coming from the incineration process.


Speaking at the forum, visiting US activist Bradley Angel, who has over 20 years of experience
in campaigning against health damaging waste facilities, scored high-temperature incinerators for making false claims that their technologies are proven to be safe and can get rid of waste without pollution. He referred to failed high-tech waste burners in Australia, Japan, Germany and the USA to back his criticism against what has been described as “incinerators in disguise.”


“Companies must be truthful, technologies must be safe, and communities need to be told the truth,” emphasized Angel, citing the findings of the joint study by Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice and theGlobal Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, which shows that the so-called “state-of-the-art” incinerators also produce the same types of pollutants as conventional waste burners.


Our communities and the planet need safe, healthy and just solutions, not incinerators,” stated Angel.


EcoWaste Coalition

Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

03 May 2007

Groups Slam Japan’s Waste Colonialism

MANILA, Philippines. Environmental and civil society groups from around the globe today blasted the Japanese government for what they view as Japan’s sinister plot to establish waste colonies in Asia by liberalizing trade in toxic wastes via bilateral trade and investment treaties.


Joining the first ever global day of action (GDA) against Japanese “waste colonialism” are over 200 concerned groups and individuals from more than 45 countries, including the Philippines, who have come together to denounce and block Tokyo’s push to link toxic waste trade with overseas development assistance and investments.


The collaborative campaign organized by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Basel Action Network-Asia Pacific (BAN-AP), Greenpeace Southeast Asia (GPSEA), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH-Asia) and EcoWaste Coalition coincides with the celebration of the Kenpo Kinenbi, a Japanese holiday to commemorate the enactment of the Nihon-koku Kenpo (Constitution of Japan) that took effect on 3 May 1947.


In Manila, environmental activists satirized the famed raising of the US flag atop Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. They mounted a tableau in front of the Embassy of Japan that saw activists dressed as Japanese bureaucrats and merchants erecting a flag with the yen sign in a mound of trash to illustrate Japan’s scheme to set up waste colonies in Asia. Citizens groups in Chennai, Seoul and Taipei also gathered in front of the Japanese foreign missions to denounce the liberalized trade in toxic waste.


“We oppose the insertion of toxic items, many of which are globally banned or restricted, in Japan’s economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with neighboring countries. The zero tariff provisions for these items will only ease toxic waste flow and legalize the deceitful shipment of toxic wastes disguised as ‘recyclable’ goods from Japan to poorer countries. We reject any scheme that will turn our countries into toxic waste outposts and put the h
ealth and safety of our workers and communities at great risk,” said Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, GAIA.


Participating groups endorsed a cyberpetition and sent postcards to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reminding him that "Asia is not Japan's waste colony" and asking his government to stop circumventing the provisions of multilateral environmental agreements such as the Basel Convention, which aims to minimize the generation and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and to ensure that their disposal be close to the source of generation.


“The Japanese Constitution requires faithful observance by Japan of its international obligations. Prime Minister Abe’s government CAN NOT honorably claim faithful observance of the Basel Convention when they actively undermine the Convention and its decisions by arm-twisting poorer countries into taking Japanese toxic wastes,” said Richard Gutierrez, Director, BAN-AP.


The groups asked the governments of Japan, Philippines, Thailand and other Asian governments to remove all toxic items and other exploitative provisions in their respective EPAs, and to ratify the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment, which prohibits exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for any purpose, including recycling.


Organizers will also forward copies of their petition to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and other appropriate governmental and inter-governmental agencies.


The idea of organizing the GDA against Japanese “waste colonialism” came to light in January this year at the GAIA-sponsored Waste Not Asia meeting in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India where activists resolved to campaign against the looming toxic threats from the Japan EPAs.



EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com