29 April 2009

Closure of Abucay Dump, Urged

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition and SHARE Inc. bear witness to the environmental destruction brought about by the illegal operation of the Abucay municipal dumpsite in Barangay Salian. The groups join Barangay Captain Thomas Baino Jr. in urging the local authorities to close, clean up and rehabilitate the open dumpsite and establish community-oriented materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to facilitate the ecological management of discards. (Photo by Anne Larracas)

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

RP Urged to Support Ban on Toxic Chemicals

Quezon City. Public interest groups appealed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to actively support global action against nine extremely nasty chemicals that pose significant risk to human and ecological health.

The groups prodded the DENR delegation to the 4th Conference of Parties (COP4) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) scheduled in Geneva on May 4-8 to back the move to expand the original “dirty dozen” POPs chemicals.

DENR is the national focal point for the Stockholm Convention, a treaty ratified by the Senate way back in 2004 to protect human health and the environment from POPs. Usec. Demetrio Ignacio and Angelita Brabante will represent the Philippines at COP4.

“The COP4 next week will be a historic milestone as the international community considers the proposal of the POPs Review Committee to add nine unacceptably toxic chemicals for reduction and eventual elimination,” noted Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator (GAIA).

Both the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA are active participants of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), a US-based global NGO network working to eliminate POPs and other chemicals of equivalent concern so that they no longer contaminate our bodies, food and

“We urge the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to champion the precautionary principle at COP4 and support decisions against chemicals with POPs-like characteristics and the transition to safe and ecological alternatives,” Calonzo said.

POPs are highly toxic chemicals that persist in the environment for years or even decades, traveling long distances via air and water and accumulating in living things.

The initial “dirty dozen” POPs covered by the Convention includes pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heltachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex and toxaphene), industrial chemicals
(hexachlorobenzene, which is also used as pesticide, and polychlorinated biphenyls) and unintentional chemical byproducts (dioxins and furans).

Up for approval at COP4 as additional POPs are flame retardants, pesticides and waste products such as 1) alpha and beta hexachlorocyclohexane, 2) chlordecone, 3) hexabromobiphenyl, 4) lindane, 5) pentachlorobenzene, 6) perfluorooctane sulfonate, 7) perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride, 8) components of c-octa, hexa and hepta bromodiphenyl ether, and 9) components of c-penta and tetra bromodiphenyl ether.

Listing these chemicals on the Stockholm Convention will ensure that these toxic substances are banned throughout the globe.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

27 April 2009

Groups Press for Waste Workers' Safety from Toxic Harm

Quezon City. Public interest groups working on waste and chemical safety called for concrete steps to protect the country’s waste and sanitation workers from being exposed to harmful chemicals.

In a joint statement to mark the “World Day for Safety and Health at Work” on April 28, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) pitched for holistic pollution prevention strategies to enhance waste workers’ protection from toxic substances.

“The task of managing society’s discards is fraught with occupational hazards. Formal and informal waste workers, including those who retrieve recyclables from bins, dumps and rivers, are prone to injuries and diseases resulting from actual contact with sharp objects and discards
containing pathogens and chemicals,” Eileen Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“We owe it to our waste and sanitation workers to push for policies and measures that will eliminate the toxic materials from the waste stream, reduce occupational hazards and uphold their health and labor rights,” Anne Larracas of GAIA added.

The groups stressed the need for the government to put into action the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), which, among others, seeks to establish mechanisms so that workers and the general public no longer suffer health deficits, diseases or deaths due to occupational or environmental exposure to chemicals.

Citing information from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the groups lamented the death of some 430,000 workers worldwide due to exposure to hazardous substances. The ILO further reports a staggering 2.3 million fatalities from work-related accidents and diseases across the globe.

“While we do not have national data on how many of our waste and sanitation workers have become ill or have succumbed to death due to inherent occupational hazards, we deem it essential that we all act now to reduce the risk of chemical exposure from handling waste,” the groups said.

Common occupational hazards linked with waste handling as gathered from United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) sources include skin and blood infections due to direct contact with waste, eye and respiratory infections due to smoke and dust, and intestinal infections transmitted by flies feeding on waste.

Chemical burns and poisoning resulting from direct contact with hazardous substances mixed with regular waste, burns and other injuries from occupational accidents at waste disposal sites, and chronic respiratorydiseases, including lung cancers, among incinerator and landfill operators
have also been documented.

In line with the SAICM’s objectives, the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA, in solidarity with the trade unions, asked the government to adopt a comprehensive program based on the precautionary principle that will prevent and reduce chemical risk, including phasing out the most hazardous chemicals in the manufacture of products and replacing these with non-toxic substitutes.

The groups particularly asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to adopt a policy that will require toxicity testing for chemicals used in products to ensure consumer safety prior to marketing and use.

They also asked the DENR to implement extended producer responsibility (EPR) to encourage manufacturers to create eco-friendly and non-toxic products and implement systems to recover and recycle products after they have been used or discarded.

“We urge the government to put the safety and health of our waste and sanitation workers high on the national agenda while we strive to implement the principles and practices of Zero Waste,” the groups said.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

20 April 2009

Communities Hit DENR for Dumping in Watersheds

Quezon City – Community activists from the EcoWaste Coalition slam the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for failing to stop the proliferation of dumpsites in watersheds, foreshore lands and protected areas, and thus threatening the country’s biodiversity and water sources with toxic pollutants.

Instead of a cheerful pre-celebration of the Earth Day, community members of the EcoWaste Coalition donning black veils gather in front of the DENR to mourn the government’s failure to curb threats to water safety from dumpsites and other pollution sources.

“Clean water is vital to the survival of humans and other creations. We now know that this finite resource is fast depleting due to unchecked pollution and the increasing demand from our industries and ever-growing population. Then why are we turning our remaining water sources into garbage dumps?” asked community leader Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“If he is really up to the job of environment secretary, we urge Mr. Atienza to close down all the illegal dumpsites now and revoke all environmental compliance certificates issued by the DENR that compromise our people’s long-term access to clean water,” said Hidalgo.

“Our efforts to clean up our rivers and seas will be futile if the government, particularly the DENR, is unable to seriously enforce the law, which explicitly bans and penalizes dumping in water bodies and inappropriate disposal practices,” said Ochie Tolentino, Coordinator, Cavite Green Coalition.

Citing information from the DENR itself, the EcoWaste Coalition bewailed that 97.5% of existing disposal facilities are dumpsites despite the mandated closure of open dumps in February 2004 and controlled dumps in February 2006 under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Many of these polluting disposal facilities for mixed waste, lamented the Coalition, are situated in environmentally-critical areas, including 15 dumpsites around the Laguna Lake basin and its waterways, the Payatas dumpsite, which is next to the La Mesa watershed, and the Montalban dumpsite for Metro Manila’s garbage, which is located inside Proclamation 1636, a protected area in Rizal.

Worst, the DENR has allowed the construction and/or operation of new waste disposal facilities in environmentally-critical places such as the new San Mateo “sanitary” landfill that residents and activists reject as being inside the Marikina watershed in blatant violation of an en banc Supreme Court decision issued in December 2005, which affirms the ban on the construction of landfills and any waste disposal facilities on any aquifer, groundwater reservoir or watershed area under R.A. 9003.

“Marginalized communities are the first to suffer the impact of environmental destruction and toxic pollution. For clean water and for environmental justice, the government has to act now and save the Marikina watershed from further exploitation and degradation,” stated Noli Abinales, adviser of the San Mateo-based Buklod Tao.

Dumps and landfills produce huge amounts of toxic leachate containing heavy concentrations of heavy metals and other chemicals of concern that can contaminate both the surface and ground water. They are also the biggest producers of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The EcoWaste Coalition is pushing for a zero waste approach to deal with the country’s unending garbage woes, including the establishment of ecology centers or materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to replace the ugly dumps and facilitate ecological waste management.

At present, only 2,701 barangays out of the 42,000 barangays are benefiting from community recycling through MRFs. In Metro Manila, only 435 barangays out of the 1,695 barangays are being serviced by MRFs.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

19 April 2009

SC Urged to Aim for Zero Waste Courts

Quezon City. “Go for Zero Waste.”

The EcoWaste Coalition called upon Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno to aim for zero waste courts to complement the “greening” of the judicial system as exemplified by the establishment of environmental courts and the ongoing effort to craft procedural rules that will hasten the resolution of environmental cases.

The waste and pollution watchdog aired this plea after presenting the Chief Justice with a banner made from recycled fabric scraps that says “zero waste” at the recent forum on environmental justice organized by the Supreme Court in Baguio City.

“We laud the Supreme Court for taking up the cudgels for the environment. To further ‘green’ the judiciary, we urge Chief Justice Puno to direct all courts to enforce zero waste resource management,” Eileen Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Zero waste courts, if implemented, will add to the growing list of public and private institutions as well as communities implementing effective citizens-driven initiatives to ecologically address our garbage woes sans dumping and burning,” she said.

“We hope that the courts under the leadership of Chief Justice Puno will join us in promoting zero waste as a vehicle for environmental justice, climate protection and economic renewal,” Sison added.

Zero waste, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, is compatible to environmental justice for it reduces the volume and toxicity of garbage being sent to dumpsites, and thus preventing toxic pollution that results from the out-of-date approach of merely collecting and dumping discards in low-income communities.

At the forum on environmental justice, the EcoWaste Coalition pushed for the inclusion in the draft procedural rules on environmental cases the presence of dumpsites, mixed waste disposal facilities and incinerators as prima facie violation of the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

To back up their advocacy for zero waste, the EcoWaste Coalition provided the justices, judges and other forum participants with copies of the brochure “Zero Waste for Zero Warming” published by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

According to GAIA, a comprehensive program of waste prevention, reduction, reuse, recycling and composting known as zero waste is among the cheapest and most effective strategies to combat climate change and promote environmental justice.

Zero waste can be implemented within months and at any level (institutional, municipal or national), conserving the country’s natural resource base, preventing toxic pollution that inevitably accompanies incinerators and landfills, and producing more jobs than the prevailing
‘hakot-tambak’ system.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

13 April 2009

50 Groups Chide Sec. Duque for Tainted Peanut Butter Incineration

Quezon City. Fifty public interest groups have chided Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for “blatant violation and contempt of the incineration ban” for leading the destruction of salmonella-tainted peanut butter in an obscure incinerator in Taguig City last week.

Last Tuesday, April 7, Sec. Duque watched over the televised incineration of 3,631 bottles of contaminated peanut butter at the Intercontinental Wastes Disposal System, Inc. (IWDSI), which the Samuya Manufacturing Inc. contracted to destroy the infected stocks.

In a letter delivered today at the DOH headquarters in Sta. Cruz, Manila, the groups led by the EcoWaste Coalition strongly assailed what they described as a “despicable disregard of the law against incineration.”

Doctors, lawyers, priests and nuns, celebrities, and activists were among those who rushed to the defense of Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act that bans the burning of municipal, bio-medical and hazardous wastes, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes.

“By openly circumventing the law in this case, the DOH has become a party to the unnecessary and untenable propagation of a formidable public hazard, which could have been avoided given the availability of alternative methods of dealing with the problem of salmonella tainted products,” the letter said.

“We are worried that dangerous pollutants such as cancer-causing dioxins were most likely emitted in the course of killing the salmonella pathogens. The recalled goods should definitely be dealt with as it should be without creating another toxic challenge,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

For his part, Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia commented that “it’s quite a shock to see a Cabinet official flaunting the law and even more outrageous when you consider that it was the health secretary involved in violating a measure intended to safeguard public health.”

According to the groups, the incineration of the recalled peanut butter fell foul of the incineration ban under R.A. 8749 that was enacted in 1999 to safeguard public health against the hazards of dioxin and persistent toxic pollution.

They added that it also ignored the country’s obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) that seeks to minimize and where feasible eradicate the formation and release of dioxins and other unintentionally-produced POPs.

The groups asked Sec. Duque to clarify if locally available non-incineration options for destroying the salmonella in Samuya’s products were considered at all. On the issue of dioxins, the groups asked Sec. Duque what precautionary actions were taken to deal with the problem of dioxin pollution.

“As the lead health agency whose goal is to ‘guarantee equitable, sustainable and quality health for all Filipinos,’ we expect the DOH to champion the precautionary principle and remain vigilant in implementing the incineration ban – all the time – for the sake of the public health and the environment,” the groups said.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

SC Urged to Hasten Green Reforms for Environmental Justice

QUEZON CITY. A waste and pollution watchdog exhorted the Supreme Court to accelerate the green reforms within the judiciary to effectively remove all barriers to the triumph of environmental justice in the country.

The EcoWaste Coalition made this appeal as the Supreme Court convenes a synchronized fora on April 16 and 17 in the cities of Baguio, Iloilo and Davao around the theme “Environmental Justice: Upholding the Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology.”

“While the Supreme Court last year designated 117 green courts, we have yet to see the slow wheels of environmental justice pick up the pace,” observed Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Illegal dumpsites refuse to shut down despite the ban under R.A. 9003, coercing politically and economically weak communities into becoming toxic sacrifice zones for the excesses of our throw-away society. A blatant case of environmental injustice,” he added.

R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which took effect in 2001, prohibits open dumping and has long directed the closure of open dumpsites in 2004 and that of controlled dumpsites in 2006.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited a fact sheet released by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in March 2009 revealing that 97.5 percent of the country’s waste disposal facilities are open dumpsites and that only 2,701 out of the 42,000 barangays are being serviced by materials recover facilities or MRFs.

“Another case in point is the less stringent implementation of the incineration ban under R.A. 8749 and R.A. 9003, thus allowing repackaged incinerators with fancy names to operate notwithstanding community assertion of their right to safety from toxic harm through the application of precaution,” added Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

R.A. 8749 or the Clean Air Act bans the incineration of municipal, health care and industrial waste, which emits poisonous and toxic fumes, while R.A. 9003 requires the adoption of best practices in ecological waste management excluding incineration.

At the Baguio forum where over 15 of its members will attend, the EcoWaste Coalition would like to see an agreement being reached on the need for the green courts to prioritize precautionary measures over unacceptable risks, and the primacy of human and ecological health over corporate profit.

The EcoWaste Coalition deems it essential to instill the precautionary principle as a non-negotiable element of environmental justice, especially among the judges, prosecutors and enforcers.

This will involve all pillars of justice acting together to prevent serious or irreversible damage to public health and the environment, despite lack of scientific certainty.

Also, this will require the proponent of a project, rather than the community, to bear the burden of proof as to the safety and soundness of a project that can potentially lead to toxic harm or environmental degradation.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

07 April 2009

Watchdog Cautions the Public against Open Burning

Quezon City. As the summer season sizzles and urbanites flee to Holy Week destinations outside Metro Manila, a waste and pollution watchdog rings the alarm bells after receiving reports on open burning in the provinces.

“Urban residents who are heading off for the countryside this Holy Week will find no respite from the onslaught of air pollution if the rampant burning of agricultural and other discards in rural areas does not stop,” warned Neneng Jocson of the Krusada sa Kalikasan, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Ecological Agriculture.

Text messages sent to the EcoWaste Coalition by concerned citizens show numerous incidents of open burning of dayami (rice straws), cogon grass, fallen leaves, plastics and other typical household trash in the provinces.

One texter from Pangasinan, for instance, complained about farmers torching rice paddies and the ensuing pollution. There were also reports of open burning in Bataan (Pilar), Batangas (San Juan), Cavite (Carmona, Dasmarinas, General Trias, GMA, Naic, Silang, Tanza, Trece Martirez), Laguna (Siniluan), Pampanga (Magalang), Nueva Ecija (Gapan, San Leonardo, Santa Rosa), and Rizal (Antipolo, Morong, Tanay).

“Open burning is a destructive practice that razes valuable materials which should have been recycled back to nature or commerce. Apart from ending the resource cycle, open burning releases lots of toxins such as cancer-causing and climate-warming chemicals,” explained Roy Alvarez of the Earth Renewal Project, another partner group of the Coalition.

Incinerating discards is so detrimental to public health, environment and economy that our lawmakers have to ban it under the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act to protect the public health and the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

To draw public attention on this burning issue, the EcoWaste Coalition has published a thought-provoking poster entitled “Nawawala nga ba? that stresses the failure of open burning in truly eliminating trash with the formation of chemical residues.

The poster comes with an accompanying fact sheet on dioxins and furans, the most notorious toxic byproducts of open burning.

The EcoWaste Coalition plans to disseminate the information widely through its partner groups, the mass media and the leagues of barangays, municipalities, cities and provinces.

The smoke and ash from open burning, warned the EcoWaste Coalition, can contain dangerous fine particles that can accelerate global warming and trigger respiratory diseases, and a host of carcinogenic or cancer-promoting substances.

Some of the known carcinogens or cancer-promoting substances emitted from open burning include dioxins, furans, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chromium, lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Dioxins and furans, the EcoWaste Coalition fact sheet says, can cause cancer of several types in humans, including cancers of the lungs, stomach, liver and soft and connective tissues, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. These chemicals have already been implicated in the increased incidence of breast cancer.

Chronic exposure to dioxins and furans can also result to adverse reproductive effects. For men, exposure to dioxins and furans can lead to reduced size of genitals, reduced sperm counts, abnormal testis, lower testosterone levels, and fewer male births. And decreased fertility, ovarian dysfunction, endometriosis and hormone disruption for women.

“Ecological alternatives to burning rice straws and other discards exist. If implemented, we’ll dramatically cut CO2 emissions, while conserving our country’s diminishing resources and ensuring food security and public health,” organic farmer Ed Guevarra of the Geo Farm said.

To help the public move away from open burning and reduce the risk of cancer and other serious ailments, the EcoWaste Coalition is promoting creative reuse and recycling ideas for discards that often get burned.

RICE STRAWS. Turn the “dayami” into organic compost fertilizer or them as fodder for livestock, as substrates for cultivating mushrooms or as raw material for special papers.

GRASS CUTTINGS. Grasscyle by leaving grass clippings on the lawn where they will break down naturally and, in the process, feed the soil with valuable nutrients.

LEAVES. Compost fallen leaves into organic soil amendment or chop the leaves and turn them into leaf mulch for your garden.

WOOD SCRAPS. Create alternative toys, furniture or fixtures out of discarded lumber or wood scraps.

BOTTLE AND TIN CONTAINERS. Reuse clean bottles and tin cans into flower vases, pen and pencil holders and containers for office and kitchen stuff.

PLASTIC BAGS. Cut clean used plastic carry bags into strips and weave them into functional bags.

NEWSPAPERS. Use old newspapers to cover books and wrap gifts. Shred or crumple newspapers as an alternative to plastic bubble wrap, or turn them into paper carry bags.

USED PAPER. Sew, glue or fasten used school or office paper into a drawing, memo or note pad.

CANDY WRAPPERS. Turn candy wrappers into colorful party lei. Keep the candy foil (palara) for school art projects or turn wrappers into children’s clutch or wallet.

JUICE PACKS. Make bags, purses, folders, trays and storage boxes from doy packs.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

05 April 2009

Green Coalition Promotes Low Carbon Holy Week to Save Climate

Quezon City. A group working on climate action and justice today implored all Christian Filipinos to mark the Holy Week with a willful embrace of low carbon lifestyles for the good of Mother Nature. Carbon dioxide is the main pollutant that is warming the earth.

Resonating the views of its faith-based member groups, the EcoWaste Coalition called for a low carbon Holy Week as Christians recollect the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and as millions avail of the holidays to go on pilgrimage, excursion or trip back home.

“We all need to pitch in to stop the planet from further warming up. By making low carbon choices during the Holy Week and beyond, we cut our emissions, live up to our task as environmental stewards and uphold the sanctity of life,” said Rev. Fr. Glenn Melo, Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition, from the Sustainable Agriculture Apostolate of the Diocese of Tandag in Mindanao.

Rev. Fr. Ben Moraleda of the Kaalagad Katipunang Kristiyano believed that “the Holy Week is indeed an opportune time to go slow with crass consumerism and delight in simple and eco-friendly choices, which are low in carbon dioxide and good for the purse and the planet.”

For his part, Rev. Fr. Alfredo Albor of the Interfaith Bishops Care for Creation Foundation said: “We crucify Mother Earth when we ruthlessly exploit, pollute and diminish her capacity to sustain life. We resurrect her back to life when we adopt a lifestyle that is outwardly simple, yet inwardly rich and compassionate, and work for her wellbeing and protection.”

The EcoWaste Coalition listed several ways to simplify, slow things down, lessen use of fossil fuels and subsequently decrease carbon dioxide emissions from Holy Week activities.

1. Aim for Zero Waste as you carry out your plans for Lent and Easter, ensuring that waste is prevented and kept to the minimum at all times through creative reuse, recycling or composting.

2. Target reduced car use during the Holy Week and give the planet a breather; walk, cycle or go by bus or jeepney to your destination, especially for the traditional “Visita Iglesia” on Maundy Thursday.

3. If you are using your car, ensure the engine is well-tuned and the tires properly inflated, remove unneeded stuff from the trunk, do not overload, observe correct driving habits, and plan for your trips for a cleaner, climate-friendly drive.

4. Abstain from expensive, high carbon holiday spree and consider sharing the money saved as your Lenten offering to the "Pondo ng Pinoy," Caritas Pilipinas or to your favorite charities.

5. Keep the park, beach and recreational spots free of plastic bags, cigarette butts, food leftovers and other litter. Be mindful of the eco-creed "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time."

6. Cut back on plastic bags by bringing a few reusable bags for “pasalubong” (homecoming treats) and souvenirs from out of town pilgrimage and visits.

7. Save trees by keeping a handkerchief or towel with you to limit use of disposable tissue papers, especially when you meditate on the Stations of the Cross in the grotto under the sun.

8. Bring your own reusable water jug to avoid having to purchase water in plastic bottles as you carry out your spiritual or leisure schedule.

9. Prioritize and use reusable and recyclable materials over single use, “throw away” ones for all activities being planned during the Holy Week.

10. Keep all Holy Week events, rituals and vows simple on the outside, but profound and caring within.

“We hope that simplicity and compassion will thrive during the Holy Week and lead to lasting efforts to cut our carbon and other toxic outputs through Zero Waste and other real climate solutions,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The report “Stop Trashing the Climate,” which the EcoWaste Coalition co-released in June 2008, shows that Zero Waste is one of the fastest, cheapest and most effective strategies to protect the climate and bring us to the path of climate stability.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

03 April 2009

ATTENTION: EcoWaste Coalition has Moved to a New Office

Below is the complete contact details of the EcoWaste Coalition

EcoWaste Coalition
Address: Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
Telephone/Fax No.: +63 2 441-1846
Email: ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com
Website: www.ecowastecoalition.org

Groups Push for Health and Environment Protection from Harmful Chemicals

Quezon City. Every year on April 7, the world celebrates World Health Day and marks the importance of health for a well lived and happy life.

In commemoration of the event, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, BAN Toxics, and Mother Earth Foundation, sound a loud call for a widespread public awareness campaign in the country about the highly toxic chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

The public health and environmental justice groups are particularly concerned about polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs and how best to protect the general public and the environment from adverse chemical exposures to them.

A health advisory from the Department of Health (DOH) states that human exposure to PCBs, an industrial chemical used mainly as dielectric and heat exchange fluids, has been caused mostly from eating contaminated food and also from inhalation and skin absorption in work places. The DOH warns that the skin and liver are the major organs affected by PCBs, but the gastrointestinal tract, the immune system and the nervous system are also targets.

A draft Code of Practice on the Management of PCBs prepared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) cites transformer repair, reconditioning and retrofilling facilities as major industry sector in the country that contributes to the spread of PCB contamination in the country. As of 2006, a partial inventory of PCBs in the Philippines yields some 6,879 tons of PCBs-containing equipment and wastes, comprising about 2,400 tons of PCBs oil.

“As we mark the World Health Day, we call on the government to complete the inventory of PCBs in the country, ensure that all stockpiles are rigorously stored and secured and prevent unsafe recycling or disposal that will expose workers and communities to toxic pollution. It will also be useful for the government to embark on a nationwide assessment of the levels and impacts of PCBs in humans and in the air, water and soil,” Rey Palacio of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“We further call on all the stakeholders to support the United Nations-assisted project that aims to eliminate our stockpiles of PCBs by employing a safe, non-incineration technology in line with the Clean Air Act and our obligations to protect the public health and the environment from POPs,” added Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator

By the end of the year, the Philippines is expecting the treatment of the first batch of PCBs wastes and contaminated equipment at the country’s first and only non-combustion treatment facility for destroying PCBs with a destruction efficiency approaching 100%. The facility would not be employing combustion to prevent the creation of the more toxic dioxins and
furans and would be operating in closed system to prevent uncontrolled releases of chemicals of concern.

The following practical can- and must-dos have been compiled by EcoWaste from various sources, such as the DOH and the DENR, to keep the public informed about protecting themselves from PCBs’ harmful effects:

  • Report illegal disposal of PCBs or contaminated wastes to proper authorities such as the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB);
  • Unless you are trained, never handle PCBs and stay away from areas where the chemicals are handled;
  • Wear full body protective clothing when working with PCBs;
  • If you work with PCBs, always wash hands thoroughly before eating and before leaving the workplace;
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke in areas where PCBs are handled;
  • If skin contact occurred, wash the contaminated area with running water for 20-30 minutes;
  • If you suspect that you have PCBs-contaminated equipment or materials at home or in the office, secure them in a sealed container until such time that they could be treated in a safe, non-combustion facility.Stay away from PCBs-contaminated sites;
  • If you suspect you may have health problems associated with exposure to PCBs, seek help from a medical physician or call the Environmental and Occupational Health Office of the Department of Health at Tel No. 743-8301 loc. 2325-2327 or the UP-National Poisons Control and Information Service at Tel No.524-1078;
  • Support the project on non-combustion technology for the destruction of PCBs in the Philippines;
  • Call the EcoWaste Coalition at 441-1846 for more information;
  • Tell these to others.

PCBs are clear, amber-colored, or dark oily liquids, which may have a faint smell like motor oil, while some smell like mothballs. They have been widely used in industry in many enclosed and open applications since they were first introduced in the 1930s.

Electric transformers manufactured before the 1990s likely contain PCBs. Other items that could contain PCBs are capacitors and hydraulic fluid and such common consumer items as fluorescent lights, transistor radios, microwave ovens, televisions, refrigerators, and various other electrical appliances, which were manufactured prior to the date.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846