30 March 2009

Groups spurn "dirty, dangerous and deadly" shipbreaking jobs

Quezon City. Environmental and labor groups have outrightly rejected Japanese investment offer for shipbreaking, saying it is a “dirty, dangerous, and deadly” venture that could spell a toxic nightmare for the workers and environment.

In a joint statement released today by the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Ban Toxics and the EcoWaste Coalition, the groups warned the government from submitting to external pressure to allow shipbreaking in the country in the guise of generating local jobs.

The Japanese Shipowners’ Association last week urged the government to embark on shipbreaking as the global financial crunch pushed many shipping firms to retire and scrap some 300 of their 5,000 vessels, assuring the authorities of “good business.”

“Shipbreaking is not a clean recycling industry, but a dirty, dangerous and deadly business that has been notorious for totally deplorable levels of workers’ injury and death and environmental pollution and destruction,” the APL, Ban Toxics and the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“We surely want jobs, but not the kind of exploitative and perilous work that shipbreaking offers. We urge our government and business leaders to block this hazardous venture and not to play with our workers’ occupational health and safety,” said Josua Mata, APL Secretary-General.

“Japan promised that it will not send toxic wastes to our country under the exchange of diplomatic notes during the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement hearings in 2007. In less than two years since that promise, we are already seeing toxic wastes from Japanese companies being peddled into our country,” said Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director of Ban Toxics.

The EcoWaste Coalition warned that shipbreaking can turn the country’s ports and beaches into toxic dumpsites for ageing vessels and cause massive chemical pollution in the guise of creating jobs for our people.

“We cannot afford to further damage our frail environment with hazardous wastes and residues from shipbreaking. The authorities should follow the precautionary principle and reject the deceptive offer from Japanese investors to create jobs by setting up dirty disposal sites for their toxic ships,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

Shipbreaking, the groups explained, involves the dismantling of end-of-life vessels for scrapping or disposal usually at a pier, dry-dock or beach. Shipbreaking yards are situated in poorer countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan because of cheap operating costs and weak labor and environmental standards.

The complicated process of ripping a ship to pieces can expose workers to numerous hazards, including exposure to toxic chemicals such as asbestos, lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and other chemicals of concern.

Some of the hazardous work activities in shipbreaking include the painstaking cutting by hand of the steel hull that often results in explosions and fires, removal of paint coatings and insulation materials, dumping of residual fuel, oils, lubricants and other flammable liquids, tank cleaning, and welding, and activities involving work on elevated surfaces, enclosed compartments and other dangerous environments.

The groups cited a report by Greenpeace International and the International Federation of Human Rights saying that the global death toll from shipbreaking operations might be well in the thousands due to explosions, fire, suffocation and accidents and occupational toxicity issues.

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

26 March 2009

Groups Hit FPA for Endosulfan Flop

Quezon City. Groups working on chemical safety slammed the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) for sleeping on the job following admission that the endosulfan which sank with the ill-fated M.V. Princess of the Stars last 21 June 2008 are still in the country.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) criticized the agency for failing to implement the “return to sender” order almost six months after for the 10 metric tons of the highly toxic pesticide were finally retrieved from the sunken vessel off Sibuyan Island on 5 October 2008.

In a workshop on chemical accident prevention held in Pasay City on March 24-25, representatives of the agricultural and environmental departments, responding to a question raised by the EcoWaste Coalition, disclosed that the endosulfan are being kept in a storage facility outside Metro Manila.

A follow-up inquiry today with the Environmental Management Bureau confirms that the very toxic agrochemicals are temporarily stored in a fertilizer company located along Camalig Road, Meycauyan, Bulacan.

It will be recalled that the “Task Force Princess of the Stars,” headed by Usec. Elena Bautista, instructed the FPA to ship back the pesticide to the Israeli manufacturer, the Makteshim Agan.

Public health and environmental justice groups have pushed for “return to sender” given the country’s lack of appropriate facility that can safely handle and treat organochlorine pesticides like endosulfan. They also sought a total ban on endosulfan for all uses.

The groups, through the “Task Force Ban Endosulfan,” had previously written to the FPA inquiring about the status of the salvaged pesticide, but did not receive any reply.

“This is a gross negligence by the authorities that could endanger again both the public health and the environment. Those accountable should be held liable and prosecuted,” Dr. Romy Quijano, President of
PAN-Philippines, said.

“We call upon the FPA to act swiftly to remove the now banned pesticide out of the country and not to wait for another chemical emergency to happen,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, stated.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last 26 February issued Memorandum Circular 2009-02 imposing a temporary ban on the importation, distribution and use of endosulfan in the country.

Sec. Atienza, in a press release, explained that “the temporary ban on endosulfan is consistent with the mandate of the DENR to protect the public and the environment from any undesirable risk hazards on its continued use.”

Citing information from International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) website, PAN and the EcoWaste Coalition warned that the excessive and improper application and handling of endosulfan have been linked to congenital physical disorders, mental retardations and deaths in farm workers and villagers in developing countries in southernAsia, Africa and Latin America.

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

23 March 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Sounds Alarm Bells over Improper Disposal of Mercury

Quezon City. Although united with the goal of the “Earth Hour” in promoting action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, an environmental network sounds the toxic alarm bells over the lack of policy on the ecological disposal of mercury-containing compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) touted as climate solutions.

Aside from switching off lights and signages on March 28, the “Earth Hour” also promotes the country’s shift to the energy-efficient CFLs from the incandescent light bulbs, which are set to be phased out in the Philippines by 2010.

“While recognizing the energy and climate benefits of CFLs, the EcoWaste Coalition sees the need for equal attention being given to reducing the mercury contents of CFLs, and to their safe management at the end of their useful lives to prevent a potentially toxic crisis,” said Manny Calonzo, president of the zero waste, climate justice and chemical safety advocacy network.

“At present, Filipino consumers are barely aware of the toxic risks when mercury-containing lamps are accidentally broken or improperly discarded into regular waste bins and sent to dumpsites," he pointed out.

“We are concerned that the massive switch to CFLs is not matched by a proactive program to reduce the risk of mercury contamination of humans and the environment,” he added.

CFLs contain from 1 to 25 milligrams of mercury, a toxic metal, that can adversely affects the brain, particularly of young children and developing fetuses. Exposure to mercury can also cause reproductive, birth, developmental and behavioral disorders and other health problems.

Mercury in products such as CFLs can be released into the environment during breakage or when spent bulbs are improperly disposed such as by dumping or burning, causing the toxic metal to enter the environment and the food chain, bio-accumulating in living organisms, and harming human health and the ecosystems.

A primer jointly published by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Energy (DoE) warns that “one fluorescent lighting tube contains enough mercury to contaminate 30,000 liters of water to an unsafe drinking level.”

To prevent mercury pollution from improper disposal, the EcoWaste Coalition calls for the adoption and enforcement of a 10-point policy on CFLs that will:

1. inform consumers about the risks and hazards of mercury exposure through adequate labeling requirements of CFLs

2. educate users on precautionary steps in case of lamp breakage

3. classify mercury-containing lamps as hazardous materials requiring special handling, storage and disposal

4. ban the disposal of spent or broken lamps in waste bins and in municipal dumpsites

5. affirm the prohibition against the incineration of waste lamps and other discards

6. implement a practical collection system for cracked or used mercury lamps

7. make manufacturers or importers responsible for end-of-life management and disposal of CFLs through a mandatory product take back program

8. require manufacturers and importers of CFLs to produce or market low-mercury and long-life CFLs

9. provide incentives to manufacturers and importers of low-mercury or mercury-free energy-efficient lamps

10. designate a “National Mercury Day” to instill public awareness and precautionary action against mercury pollution

“We urge the DENR to collaborate with the energy, health and trade departments and the civil society in devising a policy on CFLs that will adequately protect our consumers, waste workers and communities from toxic harm,” Calonzo said.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urges the DENR to closely monitor the compliance of accredited transportation, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities for waste lamps, ensuring that all the required steps are complied with to ensure that mercury-containing bulbs are safely kept or disposed. There are so far nine DENR-accredited TSD facilities for waste lamps located in Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Pasig City.

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

21 March 2009

Stiffer Fines Backed to Deter Litterbugs and Save Dying Water Bodies

MANILA CITY. The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the decision of the City Council of Manila imposing higher fines to put a stop to illegal waste disposal.

“The passage of the city ordinance increasing fines for litterbugs is a step in the right direction. If strictly enforced, the hefty fines can deter litterbugs who are unwittingly exterminating our water bodies,” Eileen Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“It’s a well-timed move as the World Water Day is observed amid mounting concern over the declining health of the marine ecosystems due to unchecked dumping of plastic trash and other discards from land-based sources,” Sison emphasized..

The World Water Day, held yearly on March 22, aims to promote global awareness and action on the importance of freshwater and to push for sustainable management of freshwater resources.

“We congratulate Councilor Numero ‘Uno’ Lim and the City Council for this judicious action. It’s high time to make polluters pay for dirtying the environment and to recover the huge amount of resources being spent for clean-up efforts of the perennially clogged waterways,” Sison stated.

Councilor Lim, a steadfast champion of various environmental concerns, authored the ordinance amending Section 3 of ordinance 7404 on solid waste disposal practices.

Lim’s ordinance, approved on 10 March 2009, increases the P100-500 fines for open dumping in vacant lots or properties, esteros and other water bodies to P1,000 for first offense, P2,000 for second offense and P5,000 for third and succeeding offenses.

In a joint press release with the EcoWaste Coalition, Lim expressed disgust over the unrestrained dumping of trash in the city’s river system, particularly in Tondo, Manila.

“Our waterways are choking from illegally-thrown trash. Plastic bags and other single-use disposable products and packaging are blocking the natural flow of water and causing health and safety hazards to our communities,” Lim lamented.

“I’ve sought the City Council’s support for hefty fines against violators to halt the illegal disposal that is killing our water bodies,” he added.

Lim pointed out that the ordinance was passed “to heighten ecological awareness among Manila residents and also to encourage other local government units to promote environmental action in the hope of making the Philippines cleaner and a better place to live in.”

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, Manila’s heightened action against litterbugs serves the goals of two major environmental laws: R.A. 9003 and R.A. 9275.

Both R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and R.A. 9275 or the Clean Water Act prohibit the open dumping of waste matters.

R.A. 9275 specifically bans the direct or indirect discharge of waste into water bodies, which could cause water pollution or impede natural flow in the water body.

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

Masaganang Katubigan, Hindi Tambakan

QUEZON CITY. Muling nanawagan ang samahang EcoWaste Coalition sa pamahalaan at sa publiko na pangalagaan ang mga katawang-tubig ng bansa at huwag itong gawing tapunan ng basura sa paggunit ng World Water Day.

“Ang Pilipinas ay isa sa mapalad na bansa na nabiyayaan ng masaganang karagatan, ilog at lawa. Ang malinis na suplay ng tubig ay unti-unti ng nawawala kaya't ang mga natitira nating katubigan ay huwag nating hayaang maging tambakan ng basura,” wika ni Rei Panaligan ng EcoWaste Coalition.

Ayon sa tala ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), mula sa 421 na ilog at 20 malalaking katawang-tubig, umaabot sa 50 mahahalagang ilog sa bansa ang maituturing ng “biologically dead” o wala ng kakayahang magsustento ng buhay.

“Ang pagkamatay ng katawang-tubig ay pagkamatay rin ng kabuhayan at kultura ng isang lugar,” wika ni Panaligan.

Ilan sa kanyang hinalimbawa ng grupo ay ang paghina ng turismo sa Hinulugang Taktak sa Rizal, Tingga Falls sa Batangas at Lawa ng Laguna dahil sa pagbagsak ng kalidad ng tubig dulot ng polusyon.

Samantala, tinukoy naman kamaikalin ng grupong Ocean Conservancy ang Pilipinas bilang pangalawa sa may pinakamaraming basurang nakolekta sa karagatan. Sa ulat na “A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris” lumalabas na mahigit 1,355,236 panapon ang nakolekta sa mga dalampasigan at dagat ng bansa sa nakaraang International Coastal Clean up noong Setyembre 2008. Ang plastic bags, paper bags at food wrappers ang pangunahing panapon na nakolekta sa dagat.

“Ang epekto ng polusyon ay tumatalima sa napakaraming komunidad at buhay. Pangalagaan natin ang ating mga katubigan sa panamagitan ng paggalang at hindi pagtatapon ng basura rito,” wika ni Panaligan.

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

15 March 2009

Senator, NGOs Laud Effort to Eliminate Toxic Chemical with Non-Burn Technology

Quezon City. Public health and environmental justice groups and a staunch pro-environment lawmaker mark the 5th anniversary of a government policy that could make the Philippines potentially the first among the developing countries to eliminate highly toxic industrial chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Donning yellow shirts that say “Working Together for a PCBs-Free Philippines,” chemical safety advocates led by the EcoWaste Coalition put a “PCBs-free” sticker to mock electrical transformers to signal the nation’s commitment to clear the country of its stockpiles of PCBs using a non-incineration technology.

The initiative has elicited the support of Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment, who said that “the non-combustion treatment of our stockpiled PCBs is a strategic milestone in our quest to rid our nation of toxic health and environmental contaminants.”

“Let a PCBs-free Philippines be our shared gift to all Filipino children and youth of this generation and next. I commend the project participants from the public and private sectors, particularly the NGOs promoting the chemical safety agenda,” she stated.”

“The Philippines may be setting the pace in what we may consider as a vital step towards fulfilling our national and international obligations to protect our people and the environment from the hazards of PCBs,” said Rey Palacio of the EcoWaste Coalition. “We’ll be complying with our commitments much earlier than the rest of the world, provided we proceed as targeted under the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for PCBs,” he added.

The CCO for PCBs issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which took effect on March 19, 2004, requires the registration, labeling, safe handling, phase out and ban on the use or storage of PCBs in the country by 2014 or 11 years ahead of the global target.

Under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), governments have until 2025 to phase out PCBs-containing equipment such as transformers and capacitors. The Convention, which the Senate ratified in 2004, also gave governments another three years, or until 2028, to destroy the recovered PCBs.

Together with other public interest groups, the EcoWaste Coalition is supporting the implementation of the pioneering project that will help waste generators comply with the 2014 phase out target for PCBs by deploying in 2009 a safe, closed-loop, non-incineration technology for decontaminating PCBs-containing equipment and wastes.

“The adoption of a robust non-combustion technology to address our stockpiles of PCBs is consistent with the goals and requirements of the Clean Air Act, the Stockholm Convention and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, which all seek to prevent toxic chemicals from harming our bodies and the ecosystems,” said Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

The EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA urged the DENR to complete the inventory of PCBs in the country and to ensure that the stockpiles are placed under strict control while awaiting operation of the non-combustion facility to avoid unsafe recycling and disposal.

As of January 2006, inventories show that the country has 6,879 tons of PCBs-containing equipment and wastes, comprising about 2,400 tons of PCBs oil. Much of these PCBs came from the power industry, owing to the chemicals’ usefulness as dielectric fluids in transformers and capacitors.

Last year, the government of the Philippines, with the support of the public and private sectors, launched the non-combustion project that will ensure the safe handling, environmentally-sound storage and effective destruction of PCBs in the country instead of sending them for incineration abroad.

The technology to be deployed would not be employing combustion; would be operating in closed system to prevent uncontrolled releases of dioxins and other chemicals of concern; and would be capable of achieving total destruction efficiency that approaches100%.

The DENR is the lead government agency in charge of the project, which is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Corporate project partners include the Philippine National Oil Company - Alternative Fuels Corporation, as the operating entity for the non-combustion facility, and the Meralco, National Power Corporation, National Transmission Corporation and other power-related entities.

The EcoWaste Coalition, GAIA, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, BAN Toxics, Health Care Without Harm, and Mother Earth Foundation are among the public interest non-government organizations participating in the project.

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

12 March 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Joins Calls to Stop Trashing the Oceans

Quezon City. The waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition today urged the Department of Environment of Natural Resources and the National Solid Waste Management Commission to act now to halt the flow of trash that is damaging the world oceans.

The group implored the authorities to act with urgency following the release of a global report on marine trash by the Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit advocacy group based in Washington DC, that warns against a “rising tide of ocean debris.”

“The report affirms what we have been saying all along: our water bodies are turning into garbage dumps,” said Manny Calonzo, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition has been photo documenting the unchecked dumping of discards in Metro Manila’s esteros to expose the poor enforcement of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which, among others, bans the unhealthy practice of littering and dumping.

“Pollution from land-based sources is damaging the marine environment and endangering the ability of our oceans to adapt and sustain life amid the warming climate. We need to put an end to the trashing of the oceans before it’s too late,” he added.

The “global snapshot of marine debris” shows cigarette butts, plastic bags and food wrappers and containers as the top three most littered items among the 43 items tracked during the International Coastal Cleanup in September 2008, which collected 11.4 million items in 6,485 sites in 104 countries, including the Philippines.

Of the 1,355,236 marine debris items gathered in the Philippines, the 679, 957 were plastic bags and 253,013 were paper bags.

The other top five items collected in the Philippine cleanup were food wrappers and containers (103,226), straws and stirrers (68,421), clothes and shoes (38,394), cigarettes and cigarette filters (34,154) and plastic beverage bottles (20,238).

The report of the Ocean Conservancy, the EcoWaste Coalition observed, reaffirms a key finding of the discards survey in Manila Bay that shows plastic debris as the most common marine litter.

In the discards survey that was jointly conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace in 2006, 76 percent of the garbage found floating in the historic bay were mostly plastic materials: 51 percent were plastic bags, 19 percent junk food wrappers and sachets, 5 percent Styrofoam and 1 percent hard plastics. The other items collected were rubber, 10 percent, and biodegradable materials, 13 percent.

Most of the plastic discards floating in the Manila Bay come from land-based sources, including from people who litter, visitors who leave their discards by the sea, households and other waste generators who fail to properly manage their waste, open trash containers, dumpsites and landfills, especially those located near water bodies.

Greenpeace explains that, in addition to harming marine animals, plastic waste pollution contributes to the loss of economic resources, especially in fishing, and to the shortfall of tourism opportunities. It incurs economic costs in the form of damage to ships, infrastructure or water flow systems; and it means more resources being poured into clean-up efforts and waste management.

To stop the flow of plastic into the marine environment, the EcoWaste Coalition urges the public to put into effect basic practices in ecological waste management, including waste prevention, reduction, separation at source, recycling reuse and composting.

The eco-group also appeals to consumers to cut their use of plastic bags to the minimum, avoid single-use items and products in excessive packaging that usually end up being thrown, dumped or burned, and for all not to litter and be involved in community and coastal cleanup.

Please click to download the Ocean Conservancy report: http://www.oceanconservancy.org

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

10 March 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Mandatory Waste Separation

Quezon City. “It’s already in the law.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental alliance working for a zero waste society, made this reaction to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s plan to issue an Executive Order that will make it compulsory to separate discards at source.

“Section 21 of Republic Act 9003 stipulates the mandatory segregation of waste at the point of origin such as households, institutions, commercial establishments, industries and farms,”Eileen Belamide-Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the first law signed by Arroyo when she assumed the presidency, requires segregation at source to promote recycling, reuse and composting of resources and to cut waste volume for collection and disposal.

“But, if an Executive Order is necessary to steer a nationwide movement that will sort discards at the point of generation and push our communities to embrace zero waste and achieve higher levels of recycling, reuse and composting, then we ask that a robust E.O. be issued without delay,” Sison stated.

“Source separated discards are resources that we can reuse or recycle back into commerce or Mother Nature,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, “while mixed discards become stinking garbage that can harm human and ecological health.”

Recycling, the EcoWaste Coalition explained, conserves natural resources and prevents the destruction of ecosystems by delaying the extraction of virgin materials, while creating jobs, reducing waste handling and disposal costs, and cutting pollution.

Composting, on the other hand, produces beneficial compost that can be used as soil amendment to revitalize depleted soils, while preventing the production of landfill gases that contribute to global warming. Among its other benefits, compost can eradicate the use of chemical fertilizers, enhance agricultural productivity and even remediate contaminated soils.

From an e-mail and text survey among its members, the EcoWaste Coalition identified several reasons why segregation of discards at source is poorly complied with.

Respondents cited the following as key stumbling blocks in the implementation of waste separation at source: the low public awareness of R.A. 9003, the lack of sustained public education and mobilization on eco-friendly consumption and discards management, the non-enforcement of both the “no segregation, no collection” policy and the “segregated collection” policy, the predisposition of some officials to quick-fix “solutions” such as landfills and incinerators, the laziness of some officials and the absence of political will to execute the law, and the corruption in waste management given the huge budget allocation for waste collection and disposal.

The respondents, which include the Buklod Tao, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, Sining Yapak, Soljuspax and Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines Foundation, would like to see the following aspects emphasized in the E.O.:

1. Continuing public information, education and mobilization on sustainable consumption and environmental protection with focus on waste prevention and reduction.

2. Establishment of ecology centers or materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to facilitate community-oriented, eco-friendly management of waste resources.

3. Enforcement of the ban on open burning, waste incineration and open dumping, including the closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of all polluting dumpsites.

4. Recognition and integration of the informal sector, particularly the waste pickers, as formal partners in ecological waste management to raise their social standing and improve their working and living conditions.

5. Separation of discards where it is generated to maintain the quality of materials and prevent occupational hazards to waste workers from the toxins in mixed waste.

6. “No segregation, no collection” to compel all waste generators to strictly comply with the rule.

7. Segregated collection of source-separated discards by waste workers.

8. Promoting the recycling of organics locally, ensuring that the biodegradable fraction of the waste stream is properly composted.

9. Banning dumpsite or landfill disposal for compostable and recyclable discards.

10. Implementation of essential measures to cut residual waste to the minimum through materials substitution, toxics use reduction, extended producer responsibility, and the phase out and ban of non-environmentally-acceptable products and packaging materials.

11. Inclusion of an ecological waste management plan as a requirement for the issuance of business permits and environmental compliance certificates.

Baby Reyes of the Mother Earth Foundation further proposes the designation of environment police at the barangay level who are deputized to issue citation tickets to households and other establishments that do not separate their discards and also to garbage collectors who accept
unsegregated discards.

“Having these environment police can be an effective tool to encourage the people to comply with the law,” Reyes said.

Rene Pineda of the Concerned Citizens Against Pollution also believes that the E.O. needs to have “very sharp teeth and a mandatory, enabling mechanism tasking local government units (LGUs) to empower citizens to directly benefit from the economic benefits of segregation, i.e., recycling (sell to junk shops) and composting (urban vegetable gardening for food production).”

“The EO, therefore, will serve as a whip stick invoking the administrative power of the executive branch over LGUs and at the same time a mandatory mechanism to empower citizens,” Pineda said.

Causing or permitting the collection of unsegregated waste under R.A. 9003 is punishable with a fine of P1,000 up to P3,000, or imprisonment of 15 days to six months, or both.

The penalty for mixing source-separated recyclable materials with other discards in any vehicle or container used in waste collection and disposal is P500,000 for the first offense, plus 5% to 10% of the offender’s net income during the previous year. The court can also impose an additional penalty of imprisonment from one to three years.

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

08 March 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes Women’s Safety from Toxic Harm

Quezon City. As the Philippines celebrates the International Women's Day, the EcoWaste Coalition calls on the government and the industry to honor the Filipino women by protecting them from harmful chemicals that are putting their health at risk.

At the same time, the waste and pollution watchdog urges all Filipinas to insist on their right to toxics-free products and to a healthy environment to safeguard their bodies and their capacity to bear, nourish and sustain life.

“This year, we ask the government to pay serious attention on eliminating toxic chemicals in household, childcare, cosmetic and other products commonly used by women consumers,” retired nurse Elsie Brandes-De Veyra said on behalf of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee that boasts 7 active women on its 12-member board.

“We are particularly keen to see the adoption and implementation of all-embracing reforms in the country’s policy on chemicals that will ban the use of substances in products that pose hazards to women’s reproductive health,” De Veyra emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition is primarily concerned about the continued use of industrial chemicals called endocrine or hormone disruptors that are known to interfere with the bodies’ natural hormone systems, disrupting hormonal balances and causing major health issues like early puberty, infertility, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast cancer and others.

Some of the more notorious hormone disruptors found in various products include 1) bisphenol A in baby feeding bottles, sports bottles and in the linings of infant formula and canned foods, 2) phthalates in toys, cosmetics and medical devices, and 3) polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) used
as flame retardant in electrical appliances, textiles, plastic foams and other products.

“We will continue to be at the mercy of the chemical industry unless we as women consumers voice out our concerns,’ observed Tanya Conlu who coordinates the EcoWaste Coalition’s chemical safety project.

“We therefore call on all women to assert our essential right to toxics-free goods and to have access to chemical information that will equip us in making sound choices, including a product’s chemical ingredients, health effects and eco-disposal,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition explains that women are very vulnerable to toxic chemicals because many of these chemicals, including heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants and other chemicals of concern, get stored in fat cells. Women carry more fat cells due to their childbearing and breastfeeding functions, making them more at risk to lipophilic or fat-liking chemicals.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which has been campaigning for chemical safety, lamented that very few of the chemicals we live with have been tested for long-term effects on human health and the environment.

“Few of us are hardly aware of the toxic chemicals in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the personal care products we apply on our bodies and the electronics we use. It is ‘toxic as usual’ until we get scary reports like melamine in milk, dioxins in cheese, or lead in flip-flops, toys and lipstick,” the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

“For the sake of our people’s health, we urge the government to initiate comprehensive policy reforms, that will proactively protect, particularly our women and girls, from being exposed to harmful chemicals,” the group further said.

Such reforms, stressed the EcoWaste Coalition, will be in line with the spirit and intent of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a global framework of action adopted by over 100 governments, including the Philippines, to protect human health and the environment from toxic chemicals.

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