31 July 2010

Group Pushes Composting and Urban Gardening as Twin Solutions to Waste, Hunger and Climate Woes

Quezon City. A citizens’ coalition has called on Filipino families to fight city blight due to pervasive garbage and poverty by adopting the twin remedies of composting and urban gardening.

In a statement, the Task Force on Ecological Agriculture of the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to turn their organic discards into compost and to set up gardens in their homes, schools and barangays to help address the problem on waste and climate, while growing healthy food and reducing food expenses.

The group made the plea following a training program on composting and urban gardening in Silang, Cavite last July 29-30, which was attended by some 30 urban leaders from different community groups in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite and Nueva Ecija.

According to the group, composting is an easy-to-do, low-cost and effective measure for mitigating climate change that can prevent the formation of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the decomposition of organic waste without oxygen in dumps and landfills.

“By composting organics, we divert a big chunk of our daily garbage output away from dumps and landfills and eliminate methane releases, while improving soil fertility and water retention and cutting energy demands for synthetic fertilizer and pesticide,” stated Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Available data show that the ordinary Pinoy yields an average of ½ kilo of garbage a day, some 50-60% of which is biodegradable, which can be easily turned into nutrient-rich compost for replenishing depleted soils and improving plant growth and agricultural production.

“Intensive composting of biodegradable wastes is also in line with Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 that provides for the development and promotion of organic agriculture in the country,” added George Dadivas of the Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation.

“Urban gardens should be promoted in every school, city and sub-urban area. Through this initiative, we can ensure that every home can have easy access to healthy food and reduce their garbage size by turning their biodegradable waste into compost,” said organic farmer Bernie Aragoza of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“By growing our own vegetables, we not only extend our meager budget but also provide additional income for our families from the sale of surplus harvest,” he pointed out.

“If we don’t have backyards, we can utilize open areas or pots to plant nutritious vegetables. We can plant kangkong, kamote, chili, malunggay, tomato and other plants. Composts for our plants are almost always available from our kitchen waste,” he said further.

During the training program, participants learned about the many innovative ways to compost, especially in space-challenged neighborhoods, with the use of clay pots and other containers and the employment of beneficial microorganisms. They also learned how to create food gardens in small areas, homes and even in buildings and condominiums, and how to make homemade fertilizer concoctions.

The trainees came from the Advocates for Environment and Social Justice, Alaga LAHAT, Ang NARS, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Diocese of Caloocan, Diocese of Imus, Everlasting Penafrancia Residents Association, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation, Nagkakaisang Mangangalahig ng Dumpsite Area (Pier 18/Smokey Mountain), November 17 Movement, PYM/ICP (Tayuman), Sama-Sama (Payatas), Sining Yapak, St. Gregory Ecology Ministry and the Sto. Rosario Parish (Cavite).


30 July 2010

Groups Seek Precautionary Ban on Bisphenol A (BPA) to Protect Children's Health

To mark the annual World Breastfeeding Action Week from August 1 to 7, children’s health and chemical safety campaigners pressed the government to adopt a precautionary ban on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in consumer products, particularly in plastic baby feeding bottles.

BPA, an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics and certain epoxy resins for lining metal cans, has gained toxic notoriety for being linked to very serious health issues and thus provoking governments to control, if not ban, BPA.

“The heightened global concern over human exposure to BPA and the probable health effects even at very low doses should move the government into imposing a precautionary ban starting with BPA-tainted children’s products,” said Velvet Roxas, a mother of two kids and representing both the Arugaan and the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The toxic health threat from BPA-laced feeding bottles for artificial milk formula should encourage all mothers to feed and nourish their children with breastmilk, the most nutritious and ecological food for babies,” she added.

According to Arugaan and the EcoWaste Coalition, various studies have shown that exposure to BPA can cause health effects even at extremely low doses, including birth, reproductive, nervous and behavioral developmental disorders.

Some studies have also associated BPA to “feminizing baby boys” and increasing the risk of breast cancer in girls and women.

Last June 2010, Californian state legislators voted to ban BPA in baby products for children aged three and under. As a precautionary step, Denmark in March 2009 banned BPA in food and drink containers for the under threes, while Canada in 2008 banned the use of BPA in baby feeding bottles.

An international conference to be convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization will be held in Canada in October 2010 to develop guidance on BPA for food safety regulators.

A fact sheet on BPA published by the EcoWaste Coalition explains that exposure to BPA and its derivatives comes mostly from contamination of food, as it has been shown to leach from the epoxy linings of canned foods and polycarbonate containers.

Fetuses, infants, and children around puberty are most at risk from its effects since their bodies are still growing and developing, the fact sheet warns.

As the ban on BPA is not yet in place, Arugaan and the EcoWaste Coalition encourage consumers to observe the following to prevent or reduce toxic exposure:

1. Nourish your child with breastmilk, the most complete and first Zero Waste food. Go for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continue breastfeeding for two years and beyond.

2. Go for cupfeeding or the giving of expressed breastmilk through cups as the situation requires (expressing is the taking of milk from the breast, without the baby suckling, by hand or with a breast pump).

3. Refrain from feeding your baby canned foods with plastic linings, which might contain BPA.

4. Avoid polycarbonate plastic containers, usually marked “PC” or the number “7”; use safer alternatives such as glass, ceramics or stainless steel.

5. Refrain from microwaving food and beverage in plastic or plastic cling wraps. If you prefer to microwave, put the food or drink on a suitable plate or cup instead.

6. Reduce consumption of canned foods as can liners may contain BPA; opt for fresh natural and indigenous food instead.

7. Check product labels and select the ones that say “BPA-Free.” Ask your retailer to offer BPA-free products.


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

29 July 2010

Groups Urge Barangay Officials to Adopt Zero Waste Locally to Fight Climate Change

Quezon City. Environmentalists today implored local barangay officials to be on the frontline of climate defence by adopting Zero Waste solutions at the local level.Justify Full
The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) issued its plea for Zero Waste communities as representatives of the country’s 42,000 barangays converge at the SM Mall of Asia Convention Center in Pasay City on July 30 for the Third National Convention of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (LBP).

“We commend our grassroots leaders who have transformed their barangays into healthy and climate-friendly havens for their constituents by implementing Zero Waste resource management,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“By embracing Zero Waste principles and implementing changes, they have saved scarce public funds from being spent for expensive haul-dump-burn waste disposal scheme,” he stated.

Zero Waste, the groups pointed out, is the fastest, most doable and most affordable action that communities can do to cut toxic pollution from unsustainable production, consumption and disposal patterns that exacerbate climate change.

“Zero Waste is the most practical community action that can be undertaken by the barangay councils and residents to promote ecological values, conserve resources, stop the discharge of climate damaging pollutants and boost local economies,” said Manny Calonzo, Coordinator, GAIA.

“We therefore urge our barangay leaders to be the Zero Waste change leaders that our country needs, prevent and reduce waste, recycle materials safely back into nature and the economy, and cut dependency on landfills and incinerators,” he further said.

“Recognizing the essential role of the informal waste sector such as the waste pickers will further help the communities in achieving even higher waste diversion results given their immense recycling knowhow,” Calonzo added.

Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, provides a useful framework to guide communities in keeping their neighbourhoods clean and green by not resorting to littering, dumping and burning of discards, the groups said.

A GAIA report released in 2009 has listed basic elements that should form part of the desired policy shift from waste disposal to Zero Waste. These are:

-reducing waste disposal in landfills and incinerators to zero;

-investing in reuse, recycling and composting jobs and infrastructure;

-requiring that products are made to be non-toxic and recyclable;

-ensuring that manufacturers of products assume full social and environmental costs of what they produce;

-ensuring that industries reuse materials and respect worker and community rights; and

-preventing waste and reducing unnecessary consumption.

27 July 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Asks P-Noy: What about the Environment?

Quezon City. This is one very important question that P-Noy failed to answer at his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), environmental advocates said.

“While we share and support P-Noy’s drive for a clean government, we could not help but wonder if environmental protection is in any way central to his crusade for change,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We find his SONA ignoring the most basic environmental challenges facing our nation, especially the poor and most vulnerable communities. Honestly speaking, we were dismayed by the lack of focus on environment as if Mother Nature does not matter,” he added.

“We were hoping, for instance, that P-Noy would at least present his plan of action to address the water crisis and announce an ambitious plan to save the Sierra Madre and other watershed and biodiversity areas from logging, mining and dumping activities on top of implementing rainwater impounding systems for farmers and communities,” he explained.

Aside from the water problem, the EcoWaste Coalition enumerated other fundamental environmental issues that P-Noy should have tackled in his report before the joint session of the 15th Congress: climate change, forest and biodiversity demolition, marine pollution, toxic chemicals, municipal solid waste and hazardous waste, to cite a few.

“If P-Noy fails to prioritize environmental protection, he will continue the mistakes of the past regime and allow the relentless destruction of the country’s remaining forests and ecosystems, proliferation of more dirty technologies and the ensuing pollution of air, land and water bodies,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier proposed to P-Noy to prioritize in his first 100 days in office several interventions in the field of Zero Waste and chemical safety.

This will include the implementation of ecological solid waste management, the recognition of the informal waste sector in resource recovery and conservation , the ban on plastic bags, the elimination of lead in paint, the adoption of pollution prevention and control measures against mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other toxic substances, the ban on aerial spraying of chemicals in agriculture, and the adoption of genuine climate-friendly adaptation and mitigation strategies, including “Zero Waste for Zero Warming.”


21 July 2010

Women Lawmakers Urged to Push for Mercury-Free Cosmetics Law

Quezon City. With just few days before the 15th Congress opens, a chemical safety watchdog has asked lawmakers, especially women senators and representatives, to propose a law that will totally ban mercury from any cosmetic product sold in the Philippines.

The wave of recall orders issued this year by the government against mercury-laced skin lightening products prompted the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of over 100 groups, to push for mercury-free cosmetics.

The group's initiative coincided with the launch today of "The Story of Cosmetics," an animated documentary featuring Annie Leonard which reveals that many cosmetic products contain toxic chemicals. Leonard, founder of the Manila-based Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), is the star of Internet film sensation "The Story of Stuff," which has been viewed worldwide over 10 million times.

“Filipino consumers, particularly the women and youth, must be protected from the ill effects of mercury and other toxins in personal care products. We can be beautiful inside and out without wasting money for toxic cosmetics,” said Velvet Roxas of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Chemical Safety.

“Zero mercury in cosmetics will prevent mercury exposure via direct skin application and absorption of this poison,” she said.

“Eliminating mercury in products is also the most effective way to cut mercury releases from product wastes,” she emphasized.

“We hope that the ban on mercury in personal care products will lead to a broader policy on safe cosmetics, anchored on the precautionary principle, to stop chemical assault on women’s and children’s health,” she added.

“We further hope that our women senators and representatives will take the lead in taking chemicals that are linked to cancer among women and to birth and developmental disorders among children out of cosmetics,” she stated.

The government has so far issued three directives this year banning a total of 23 skin whitening creams, mostly imported from China, describing these products as “imminently unsafe, injurious or dangerous” for containing mercury way beyond the 1 part per million (ppm) threshold.

The EcoWaste Coalition and other groups are pushing for a revised standard of mercury in cosmetics from 1 ppm to zero ppm.

Citing information from the Mercury-Free Campaign of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), the EcoWaste Coalition warned that mercury-laced skin lightening products can badly damage human health.

Exposure to mercury has been known to cause blotchiness, uneven skin tone, easily sunburned skin, peeling skin, increased hyper-pigmentation, thickened skin, large pores, itchiness, redness, dark patches, light pink patches, and signs of premature aging such as lines and wrinkles, according to IPEN’s market analysis report of some mercury-containing products.

Dermal application of mercury can absorb into the bloodstream leading to health problems for the individual and for offspring born to women of childbearing years who use these, the report further said.

Manufacturers of some facial creams and soaps use mercury as a melanin inhibiting agent to lighten skin tone by reducing pigmentation and darkening. Mercury or hydroquinone will initially cause the skin to lighten by inhibiting production of melanin. Without melanin formation, no brown pigmentation will be visible. This produces the much-vaunted "instant lightening" results, the IPEN report stated.


"The Story of Cosmetics" http://www.storyofstuff.com/cosmetics/

“Market analysis of some mercury-containing products and their mercury-free alternatives in selected regions” published in 2010 by IPEN, Arnika and GRS: http://www.ipen.org/ipenweb/documents/ipen%20documents/grs253.pdf

18 July 2010

P-Noy Urged to Unveil Environmental Plans in Upcoming SONA

With barely a week before the chief executive addresses the joint session of the 15th Congress, an environmental network prodded P-Noy to use the occasion to unwrap a package of solutions to the country’s environmental woes.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a network of over 100 groups aiming for zero waste and chemical safety goals, expressed its hope that P-Noy’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) will give due prominence to protecting the environment from waste and toxic pollution.

“The SONA provides P-Noy with a superb venue to announce and draw citizens’ support for environmental policies and measures that will clean up our communities, while promoting an ecological way of life, mitigating climate impacts, spawning green jobs and inspiring local self-reliance,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope to hear P-Noy declaring an ambitious waste diversion target, which is attainable if all the stakeholders, including the people, government, industry, civil society, formal and informal waste sector, will put their acts together and advance an innovative people-centered zero waste program,” he said.

Such program should seek to 1) reduce the volume and toxicity of discards, 2) promote intensive reusing, recycling and composting, 3) recognize the role of informal waste sector in resource recovery, and 4) ensure the environmentally-sound management of hazardous waste.
For her part, Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition, underscored the need for P-Noy to respond to major chemical challenges facing the Filipino families and communities.

“The upcoming SONA, we hope, will demonstrate government’s steadfastness to safeguard the public health and the environment from toxic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, mercury, cyanide and phthalates, to name a few,” she said.

“We’ll be elated if P-Noy will make policy pronouncements in support of global and local efforts to curb toxic pollution, including the non-combustion treatment of PCBs, the elimination of lead in paint and the implementation of various mercury control measures,” she added.

“Our people will be listening intently on how P-Noy plans to fix our waste and toxic problems and we hope we won’t be disappointed,”she said.
The EcoWaste Coalition crafted what they called the “Citizens’Agenda for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety,” which was submitted to P-Noy last June 25.

One of the key proposals of the group is for P-Noy to pursue a national chemical safety policy framework and action plan in line with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

Chemical safety, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, is integral to improving public health and the environment, eradicating disease and poverty, and achieving sustainable development for all.


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

16 July 2010

EcoWaste Coalition’s “AlerToxic Patrol” finds banned mercury-tainted cosmetics in the market

Quezon City. Mercury-tainted skin whitening products are still being sold in the market despite being banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group campaigning for chemical safety, made this conclusion after deploying its “AlerToxic Patrol” to check if the FDA’s three successive orders banning a total of 23 skin lightening products were being complied with.

“Our investigation proves that the blacklisted skin whitening creams have not disappeared from store shelves and are being sold to unsuspecting consumers from 60 to 180 pesos,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“Unknown to consumers, these ‘magic’ skin whitening products contain excessive amounts of mercury, a toxic chemical, that can endanger their health,” she added.

Mercury, a chemical of global concern, is particularly dangerous for the nervous system, including the developing brain of the foetus. Children of mothers who use mercury-containing skin lighteners such as soaps and creams have a high risk of being mentally and physically impaired.

The group conducted random market surveillance one month after the FDA issued its last order banning the sale of 11 mercury-laced skin lightening creams that the agency described as “imminently injurious, unsafe or dangerous” as per FDA Circular 2010-011 issued on June 16, 2010.

Disguised as buyers, the “AlerToxic Patrol” went store hopping on July 13, 14 and 15 and casually bought some of the prohibited items in certain tiangge stalls, food supplement kiosks, beauty shops and in Chinese drug stores located in Quiapo, Sta. Cruz and Divisoria (168 Mall) in Manila, Makati City (Guadalupe Shopping Complex), Quezon City (Farmers’ Plaza) and in Angono, Rizal.

Out of the 11 skin whiteners banned by the FDA on June 16, the anti-toxic volunteers were able to purchase six brands with receipts.

These banned products include 1) Beauty Girl Double White Collagen Elastin Whitening Night Cream, 2) Doctor Bai Skin Revitalizing Skin Brightening Cream, 3) Glutathione Grapeseed Extract Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 4) JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 5) Shengli Day and Night Cream, and 6) S’Zitang Cream.

They were also able to purchase Jiaoli Miraculous Cream that the agency banned as early as February 9, 2010.

The continued sale of the banned cosmetics prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to call anew for intensified law enforcement action to protect the consumer right to safety and health.

“We urge the FDA to actively mobilize all the law enforcement agencies to stop the trade in mercury-tainted skin-whitening products and protect gullible consumers from being deceived by unscrupulous vendors,” Lucero stressed.

“The proliferation of products with toxic ingredients such as mercury should encourage the FDA into reviewing its recall policy and implementation strategy,” she added.

To protect the public health and safety, the EcoWaste Coalition has identified several action points for implementation by the FDA:

1. Revise the current allowable limit of mercury from 1 part per million (ppm) to zero to ensure that only mercury-free cosmetics are sold in the market.

2. Require products to be pre-tested for mercury and other toxic substances before being sold to prove that they are safe for the consumers and the environment.

3. Enforce the required labeling requirements under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Consumer Protection Act, Food and Drug Administration Act and other pertinent laws.

4. Conduct effective public information using all available media that will inform and caution vendors and consumers in both urban and rural areas about the hazards of mercury in cosmetics.

5. Establish a hotline where consumers can obtain recall and general product safety information as well as report violation of recall orders.

6. Publish detailed reports to inform the public on how recall orders were implemented.

Link to FDA Circular 2010-011:

13 July 2010

Open Letter to DENR and NSWMC regarding the Proposed Siting Criteria and Suitability Assessment for Waste Disposal Facilities

13 July 2010

Hon. Ramon J.P. Paje
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

Hon. Emelita C. Aguinaldo
Officer in Charge, Secretariat
National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC)

Dear Friends,


We, on behalf of the EcoWaste Coalition, would like to welcome you as Secretary of the DENR and Chairperson of the NSWMC. We congratulate you for joining the team of servant-leaders of P-Noy and wish you every success in contributing to the fulfillment of Noynoy’s “Social Contract with the Filipino People,” particularly in the area of environmental protection:

“From allowing environmental blight to spoil our cities, where both the rich and the poor bear with congestion and urban decay to planning alternative, inclusive urban development where people of varying income levels are integrated in productive, healthy and safe communities.”

“From a government obsessed with exploiting the country for immediate gains to the detriment of its environment to a government that will encourage sustainable use of resources to benefit the present and future generations.”

Responding to P-Noy’s call at the historic June 30 inauguration for the citizens to join him in continuing the fight for change, the EcoWaste Coalition is pleased to submit our views pertaining to the proposed DENR Department Administrative Order and NSWMC Resolution entitled “Adoption of Modified Guidelines on Site Identification Criteria and Suitability Assessment Procedure for Waste Management Facilities.” Please find below our general and specific comments and recommendations for your kind consideration.

I. General Comments:

We find the proposed DENR DAO and NSWMC Resolution (hereinafter referred to as the “draft policy”) as perpetuating the “hakot-tambak” mindset that has long been acknowledged as a false framework and solution for addressing our recurrent garbage woes. It does not mirror our vision for a waste-free and toxic-free future that we and the next generations of Filipinos are entitled to.

In the words of one of our community leaders, “wala man lang akong nabasa na pagkiling ng DENR/NSWMC sa community-based ecological solid waste management. Ang panukalang patakaran ay sumalamin sa ‘fixation’ nila sa waste disposal. Streamlining ito ng mga landfill. Bakit walang mainstreaming para sa community-managed Zero Waste, sa segregation at source, sa recycling, sa composting, sa urban gardening?”

Indeed the draft policy reflects the NSWMC’s apparent predilection to waste disposal rather than on Zero Waste resource recovery and conservation as spelled out in Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. The penchant to ask the wrong question of where to site disposal facilities instead of asking how to prevent and cut waste does not bode well with the spirit and intent of RA 9003 and the universally accepted hierarchy of waste management options that prioritizes waste avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycling and treatment over disposal.

We find the draft policy deceptive in the sense that the impression one gets is that it tries to minimize the impact of locating landfills within a certain distance from environmentally critical areas, thus the provision for distances such as 500 meters etc.

However, according to the relevant provision of RA 9003:

“The site must be located in an area where the landfill's operation will not detrimentally affect environmentally sensitive areas such as aquifer, groundwater reservoir or watershed areas.”

The draft policy seems to reinforce the wrong notion, especially among unenlightened local government units and the public at large, that landfills are final disposal facilities for municipal solid waste, when landfills should only serve as temporary containment areas for residual wastes as the society transitions to Zero Waste.

We further find it inappropriate for the various types of ‘waste management facilities” as lumped together under the draft policy to have a blanket set of siting requirements as if these are one and the same.

Given the unfolding impacts of climate change, we find the draft policy as failing to address the vulnerabilities of our islands and communities and propagating “wasting as usual” that has seen the proliferation of dumpsites and landfills throughout the country.

The draft policy did not benefit from genuine public consultation involving all stakeholders, including Zero Waste practitioners and advocates and frontline communities where current waste disposal facilities are situated or where new facilities are being constructed or proposed.

II. Specific Comments

1. In the “Definition of Terms,” “Waste Management Facilities” include waste disposal facilities such as “sanitary” landfills with ecological facilities for recycling and composting discards (e.g., Materials Recovery Facilities) and consequently provides wrong basis for unified requirements that could hold back the establishment and operation of community-centered MRFs or Ecology Centers.

2. In the “Definition of Terms,” “Transfer Station” should clearly say that “residual wastes shall be removed within 24 hours after receipt, and that operations must conform with environmental and health standards.”

3. In the “Definition of Terms” and on Table 1 on “Proximity to Ecologically Sensitive Areas,” it is not clear if natural parks are included in the definition of national parks. If only national parks are covered then the natural parks have been left out. This may cause problems in the site selection since it might assume that dumping near natural parks is acceptable.

4. Under the types of facilities that can seemingly be in the Table 1 (Exclusion Criteria), yet nonetheless wind up treated in Table 2 (Conditional Criteria) are "Technologies on Waste Management Projects” (page 9, paragraph 3), which is undefined, and can be problematic.

5. The draft policy does not explain the bases for the numerous screening guidelines (e.g., 250 meters, 500 meters, 1 kilometer etc. as standards), especially since we know that different areas will have different geological characteristics.

6. On Table 1 re “Geologic Conditions and Geologic Hazards,” caves were left out in the definition of a karst region (sinkholes and cavities are not really the same as caves). Putting the term sinkholes, caves and other such cavities would make the definition better.

7. On Table 2 re “Proximity to Perennial Surface Water/Water Bodies,” the minimum distance to the high tide coast line of 2,000 meters and 3,000 from sandy beaches should be based on the best scenario modeling of ocean level rise, not today’s existing tide lines. Otherwise the ocean may end up in the landfill if the ocean rises faster than expected. In other words, the sites should be climate proofed before they are selected.

8. On Table 2 re “Proximity to Residential Areas and Other Sensitive Land Uses,” the proposed distance of 250 meters is way too close! Given how we deal with waste now, the flies will drive everyone crazy, let alone the smell. Obando, for instance, is few kilometers away from the Navotas City “sanitary” landfill and yet the stink from the latter still reaches the town.

9. The draft policy appears to have totally removed social acceptability as one of the critical parameters for siting waste disposal facilities. RA 9003 says that “the site shall be chosen with regard to the sensitivities of the community’s residents.” The procedure for site suitability assessment has absolutely left out the role of impacted citizens and other concerned stakeholders in assessing the appropriateness of waste management project designs, etc.

We need to be reminded that P-Noy himself is committed to ensuring public consultation and right to know. In his inaugural speech, P-Noy said:

“We will strengthen the process of consultation and feedback. We will strive to uphold the constitutional right of citizens to information on matters of public concern.”

III. Recommendations

In lieu of the proposed DENR DAO and NSWMC Resolution, we advise the Department and Commission to develop and adopt, with public participation, a policy that will establish a Zero Waste goal for the entire country and define essential strategies and actions towards a people-centered ecological resource management as a vehicle for environmental, economic and social renewal.

As we have communicated to the DENR and the NSWMC through our letter of 8 June 2009, we propose a “National Solid Waste Management Strategy (NSWMS) anchored on waste prevention, volume and toxicity reduction, segregation at source, reusing, recycling and composting, and not on costly and polluting landfills and incinerators.”

We specifically urge the NSWMC to prioritize the adoption of long-delayed policy that will curb pollution from plastic bags and other non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials.

Another policy concern that the NSWMC should prioritize is on composting, which has the huge potential of ecologically addressing the country’s biodegradable waste.

To ensure that funds will be available for the monitoring, maintenance and post-closure care of waste disposal facilities such as “sanitary” landfills, we propose the imposition of commensurate bonds by the contractor that will be sufficient to pay for the necessary expenditures such as for site cleanup and rehabilitation. It should be emphasized that even the most sophisticated “sanitary” landfills need to be monitored and maintained for so many years after closure. One study says that today’s “state-of-the-art” landfills are expected to be threats to groundwater quality for hundreds to thousands of years!

We thank you for considering our views and look forward to working with the DENR and the NSWMC in crafting an alternative policy premised on Zero Waste and community-driven ecological resource management.

Sincerely yours,

Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition

Atty. Amang Mejia, Counsel, EcoWaste Coalition

Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Ang Nars

Joey Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement

Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao

Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition

Rene Pineda, Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability

Dr. Angelina P. Galang, Environmental Studies Institute/Green Convergence

Manny C. Calonzo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Florita Dumagan, Hugalna-Bohol

Lia Jasmin, Interface Development Interventions

Eileen Sison, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives

Neneng Joson, Krusada sa Kalikasan

George Dadivas, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation

Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation

Romy Hidalgo, November 17 Movement

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Philippine Earth Justice Center

Ben Galindo, Sagip Pasig Movement

Bro. Martin Francisco, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society

Marie Marciano, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan

Rodne Galicha, Sibuyan League of Environmental Sentinels

Rey Palacio, Sining Yapak

Bill Granert, Soil and Water Conservation Foundation, Inc

Dr. Helen Mendoza, Soljuspax

Ofelia Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines

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

09 July 2010

EcoWaste Coalition lauds FDA order to seize mercury-tainted cosmetics, urges vigilance to protect public health and safety

A waste and toxic watchdog today lauded the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for again ordering the seizure of personal care products that were found to contain mercury, one of the most toxic chemicals in the world.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the FDA for issuing FDA Circular 2010-011 declaring 11 skin whitening products as “imminently injurious, unsafe or dangerous” for containing impurities and contaminants way beyond the limits, including mercury that exceeded the “allowable” threshold
of 1 part per million (ppm).

“This year alone the FDA has issued three circulars stopping the distribution and sale of 23 mercury-laced skin lightening products, mostly imported from China,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“We recognize the effort of the FDA to purge the market of these hazardous products and further urge the agency to test more cosmetics such as skin cream, lipstick, nail polish, mascara and sunscreen, to name a few, for mercury and other chemicals of concern to ensure that only safe cosmetics are sold to consumers,” she said.

These chemicals of concern will include lead, phthalates, hydroquinone, formaldehyde, parabens, synthetic musks and other harmful substances that have been linked to birth and developmental disorders, cancers and other health problems, the EcoWaste Coalition said

“In the interest of the public’s right to know, we request Director Nazarita Tacandong to disclose how the FDA circulars were enforced, including the volume of banned products confiscated and how these were disposed,” Lucero said.

“Finally, we ask the FDA to seriously reconsider the 1 ppm limit for mercury in cosmetics, knowing that even the World Health Organization had failed to confirm any safe level for mercury exposure that would not have any adverse impacts on human health,” she emphasized.

Citing information from a fact sheet published by the Nordic Council of Ministers, mercury in cosmetics passes through the skin and reduces the melanin of the pigmentation. Mercury is particularly dangerous for the nervous system, including the developing brain of the foetus. Children of mothers who use mercury-containing skin lighteners such as soaps and creams have a high risk of being mentally and physically impaired.

FDA Circular 2010-011 authorizes food and drug regulation inspectors to seize the following mercury-tainted products:

1. JJJ (Golden Package) Magic Spots Removing Cream (Spots Removing Super)

2. Beauty Girl Double White Collagen Elastin Whitening Night Cream/Double White SPF17AP++ Whitening Day Cream

3. Yinni Green Tea Quick Acting Whitener & Speckle Remover Package (Yellow & White Cream)

4. Glutathione Grapeseed Extract Whitening & Anti-Aging (Sanli International Cosmetic Group Co., Hong Kong)

5. Doctor Bai Skin Revitalizing Skin Brightening (Doctor Bai Intensive White Revitalizing & Speckle Removing Set) (Hongkong Forever Beauty Cosmetic Hairdressing Co. Ltd.)

6. Youngrace Age Defying Essence (Gelidai Jiabao Cosmetics Co. Ltd.).

7. Gemli Glutathione Hydrolyzed Collagen Whitening & Anti-Aging (Sanli Intl. Cosmetic Group Co., Hongkong)

8. Qiang Li Zeng Bai Qu Ban Wang Whitening Cream (Zhong Guo Haerbin Gelidai Jiabao Huazhuangpin Co. Ltd.)

9. Shengli Day & Night Cream (distributed by Shengli Trading in Binondo, Manila)

10. S'Zitang Cream

11. BIB Day Cream Whitening Cream - 921 (Biyibi Meirongpin Youxiangonsi Chupin - Taiwangsheng Gaoxiongshi Zhongshanbeilu 3289 Hao).

FDA Circular 2010-011

Chemicals of Concern in Cosmetics:

Nordic Environment Fact Sheet on Mercury

07 July 2010

Green Groups Urge P-Noy to Lead Drive for Respect and Safety of Waste Recyclers

As the nation marks the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Payatas tragedy, Zero Waste and social justice advocates urge President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III (P-Noy) to take up the cudgels on behalf of the informal waste sector who long for societal attention, recognition and support.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in a joint statement requested P-Noy to take the lead in ensuring respect and safety for the informal recyclers such as the waste reclaimers at dumpsites.

The groups issued the statement to commemorate the 10th year of the dumpsite tragedy in Payatas, Quezon City that buried hundreds of residents on July 10, 2000.

“The 10th year of the Payatas tragedy provides a timely opportunity for the new government to affirm its compassion and commitment to address the real needs of the informal recyclers, particularly the waste reclaimers who belong to the poorest of the poor,” said RoyAlvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope that P-Noy will take the lead in showing society’s gratitude to the informal waste sector for the often ignored recycling work that they do which create jobs and enterprises, conserves resources and mitigates the effects of climate change,” stated Manny Calonzo,Co-Coordinator of GAIA, which runs a waste pickers and climate policy project.

“A public campaign led by P-Noy himself as part of his social contract to provide the people with opportunities to rise above poverty will surely help in instilling community respect for waste recyclers and in promoting their health and safety at work,” Calonzo added.

The groups further hope that P-Noy will use the occasion to remind the Filipino people to constantly strive towards Zero Waste, protect the health of humans and other ecosystems from wastefulness, and prevent any waste disaster from occurring again.

“If the President is keen to learn more about the plight of the informal recyclers, we strongly recommend that he takes time off from his busy schedule, mingle with them and participate in an important activity this Saturday where the National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in Solid Waste Management will be presented,” Alvarez said.

“His presence will certainly provide much-needed boost to the informal waste sector and to their hopes and dreams for a better future under the new dispensation,” he added.

The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), which is under the Office of the President, will hold a “Pre-Congress for the Informal Waste Sector” this coming Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Occupational Safety and Health Center, North Avenue, Quezon City.

The Framework Plan prepared by the NSWMC in consultation with various stakeholders has recommended five interventions to help improve the conditions of the informal waste sector. These are:

1. Support waste reclaimers to enter new service roles and niches in separate collection and recycling.

2. Assure waste reclaimers access to sorting space at transfer stations and disposal facilities.

3. Support better market leverage and/or diversification of activities through cooperatives and associations.

4. Open channels of communications with formal stakeholders and decision-makers into the planning process.

5. Improve the work conditions through the implementation of environmental and occupational safety practices and systems.


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

06 July 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Holds "Kaluksa," Mourns Senseless Deaths from Toxic Silver Cleaners

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for public health and chemical safety, today staged a mock wake at the gate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City to show their sorrow and indignation over the poor enforcement of the agency’s ban on cyanide-laced silver cleaning agents.

Dubbed as “Kaluksa” (Kalampag-Luksa), the mourners brought with them an improvised white coffin made from recycled boxes that bears the words “cyanide kills,” complete with the toxic insignia of skull and crossbones. Cyanide, a highly toxic chemical, is poisonous to humans and aquatic life even at low concentrations. Aside from cyanide, silver cleaning agents can also contain ammonia, isopropanol, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and thiourea, a suspected human carcinogen.

Wearing black veils that enhanced the somber mood, the mourners stood in silence before the coffin that symbolizes the lives lost because of accidental or intentional ingestion of over-the-counter silver cleaning solutions. They lighted candles and offered prayers for the victims and their bereaved families.

“We have come here to grieve over preventable cyanide poisoning and to appeal to Secretary Paje to fully enforce the DENR’s own policy banning cyanide-containing silver cleaners for the sake of our people’s health and safety,” said Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary, EcoWaste Coalition.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, who also heads the Public Affairs Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, echoed the plea made by the EcoWaste Coalition.

“These senseless deaths from the ingestion of toxic chemicals in silver cleaners have to end. Let us honor and sanctify life by taking out of the market toxic products that can harm, maim or kill, especially the children. Let not harmful substances ruin our children’s hope and right to live,” stated Bishop Iñiguez.

The event was held two days after the deadly mixture claimed the life of Trizha M. Manlapig, a one-year old girl from Paco, Manila, who drank a silver cleaner by mistake and was declared dead on arrival at the Ospital ng Maynila.

Despite a supposed DENR ban on cyanide-laced silver jewelry cleaning solutions, cases of intentional or non-intentional poisoning have continued to pile up, lamented the EcoWaste Coalition.

Data provided to the EcoWaste Coalition by the National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC) show that the Philippine General Hospital-based institution saw, from January to March 2010, 49 cases (24 of which were pediatric) of silver cleaner poisoning out of 270 total in patient admissions. Out of 49 cases, two male patients aged 29 and 50 died due to non-accidental intake of silver cleaners.

Based on the NPMCC’s 2009 Annual Census, the Center handled a total of 235 cases for cyanide-containing silver cleaners for both in patient admissions and telephone referrals. The same report shows that silver cleaner poisoning ranked number two in the adult age group with 191 cases and number six in pediatric age group with 44 cases.

To stop the senseless deaths, the EcoWaste Coalition called on the DENR to initiate sustained law enforcement action in cooperation with the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police and the local government units to stop the illegal distribution and sale of cyanide-laced silver cleaners.

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in 2009 tested some samples of silver cleaners for cyanide. Test results confirmed “high content of cyanide, which is fatal to humans when ingested,” according to the EMB letter to the EcoWaste Coalition.

The EMB likewise told the EcoWaste Coalition that “the risk that these jewelry cleaners containing cyanide pose to public health is extremely high, as evident in the reported casualties, thus, its ban will be strictly enforced.”

Notwithstanding the EMB promise of confiscating cyanide-containing silver cleaners, subsequent market surveillance by the EcoWaste Coalition proved that the toxic products are still rampantly sold in jewelry shops devoid of proper labeling and precaution.

Instead of toxic cleaning agents, the EcoWaste Coalition suggests the use of toothpaste, baking soda, liquid dish soap and mild detergents as safer substitutes for polishing silver jewelry.

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

05 July 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Strict Enforcement of DENR Ban on Deadly Silver Cleaners

A non-governmental toxic watchdog today urged Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to strictly enforce an existing department policy on cyanide and cyanide compounds to stop the senseless deaths from the lethal consumption of silver jewelry cleaners.

The EcoWaste Coalition renewed its call to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to impose the strong hand ofthe law following the death of a one-year old girl yesterday, July 4, after mistakenly drinking a silver cleaner that she confused for water.

Trizha M. Manlapig, who just turned one last February 6, was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians at the Ospital ng Maynila. Her body lies in state at the PNR Compound, Barangay 825, Zone 89, District V in Paco, Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition this morning visited the wake of Trizha by the railroad tracks and condoled with her parents Crisanto and Mirriam.

“The scourge of cyanide poisoning from over-the-counter silver cleaners continues to claim its periodic toll on lives. We can no longer ignore the fact that people, young and old, are dying from accidental or suicidal ingestion of silver cleaners,” said Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It’s high time for the DENR to enforce its own policy against these deadly concoctions. In the interest of public health and safety, we urge Sec. Paje and all our law enforcers to act and ensure zero injury and casualty from the sale and use of toxic silver cleaners,” she emphasized.

During the last quarter of 2009, the Manila Police District reported six suicide cases due to the deliberate intake of silver cleaners. Last June 30, 18-year old Lilibeth del Mundo from Barangay Sta.Monica, Quezon City reportedly committed suicide by consuming the “instant kill” cleaning solution.

Last year, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) bought some samples of silver cleaners from jewelry shops and had them tested for cyanide. Test results showed “high content of cyanide, which is fatal to humans when ingested,” according to the EMB letter to the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The risk that these jewelry cleaners containing cyanide pose to public health is extremely high, as evident in the reported casualties, thus, its ban will be strictly enforced,” the EMB told theEcoWaste Coalition.

Following the test, the EMB in July 2009 directed the confiscation of silver jewelry cleaners pursuant to DENR Administrative Order No.1997-39, Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Cyanide and Cyanide Compounds, which are poisonous to humans and aquatic life even at low concentrations.

Subsequent market surveillance by the EcoWaste Coalition indicated that silver jewelry cleaners are still rampantly available for sale in jewelry shops, most of which are inadequately labeled.

Exposure to high levels of cyanide, according to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, can harm the brain and heart, and may cause coma and death. Exposure to lower levels may result in breathing difficulties, heart pains, vomiting, blood changes, headaches, and enlargement of the thyroid gland.

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise called for action against silver cleaners containing thiourea, another toxic chemical, that is a known animal carcinogen and probable human carcinogen. Exposure to thiourea may cause irreversible effects, affect fertility, cause allergic skin reaction, skin ulcers and liver damage, and may be fatal if swallowed.

In lieu of cleaning solutions laced with cyanide, thiourea and other harmful chemicals, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends toothpaste,baking soda, liquid dish soap and mild detergents as safer substitutes for polishing silver jewelry.

Eliminating the sale and use of toxic jewelry cleaners, the EcoWaste Coalition asserts, is in complete harmony with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a global policy to protect human and ecological health from the damaging effects of toxic substances, including chemicals in products and wastes.


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

03 July 2010

“PLASTIK, HINDI WALASTIK": Green groups tell consumers to cut use of plastic bags

Wearing plastic bags over their heads, Zero Waste and climate campaigners today interacted with consumers at a busy public market in Quezon City in a bid to dissuade them from the thoughtless consumption of plastic bags.

In celebration of the 2010 International Plastic Bags Free Day (IPBFD), environmentalists led by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) trooped to the Commonwealth Market wearing shopping bags in different colors that carry the message “Plastik: Hindi Walastik!”

“Walastik” is a popular Filipino expression that means “fantastic. Literally, it means “walang plastik” (no plastic).

During the event, volunteers gave out "Ayaw Ko ng Plastik" leaflets, which can be downloaded at: http://www.no-burn.org/plastik-plastik-di-walastik

“Plastic bags symbolize our penchant for convenient and disposable stuff as we recklessly embrace throw-away culture. Through our action today, we ask consumers to rethink their addiction to plastic bags and put an end to the ecological misery caused by wasteful consumption,” said Gigie Cruz of GAIA, one of the organizers of the 2O1O IPBFD.

"By cutting our use of plastic bags and other non-environmentally sound packaging, we significantly reduce our waste generation and lessen associated ecological hazards such as climate and marine pollution from happening,” she said.

“While national data on per capita consumption and disposal of plastic bags are not readily available, there is no lack of evidence of plastic bags ending up littering streets, parks, dumpsites, rivers, seas and even the sky. We really need to end our love affair with plastic bags and opt for reusables,” stated Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition's Task Force on Plastics.

“The onset of the rainy season should compel us into having second thoughts about our unchecked use and disposal of plastic bags. We can help prevent floods by saying no to plastic bags and using reusable bags and containers. Indeed we can save Mother Earth one bag at a time,” said Kris Psyche Resus, Miss Philippines Earth 2010.

In US, only 5 percent of the plastics produced are recovered, 50 percent are buried in landfills, some are remanufactured into durable goods and the rest are “unaccounted for” or lost in the environment and ultimately into the oceans, according to 5 Gyres, a global research on plastic pollution in the marine environment

To tackle the plastic curse, the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA have identified practical actions that consumer, business and government sectors can do.

At the personal level, “Bring Your Own Bayong” (BYOB) or other reusable bags when you shop. Make an environmental statement by cutting and sewing your own reusable bags from rice or flour sacks,old jeans, fabric scraps and other used materials. Spread the BYOB culture to your family, neighborhood and workplace.

At the business level, supermarkets and shops should introduce their own reusable bags made of recycled and locally-sourced materials. Promote and provide attractive incentives to inspire consumers to bring their own bags or containers (i.e., rebate scheme, price cuts). Consider giving eco-friendly shoppers with non-financial rewards such as gifts of plants and trees.

At the government level, push the national and local authorities to ban single-use plastic bags. In the meantime, forbid their use for non-essential purposes (e.g., fiesta buntings and ornaments). Make manufacturers responsible for the environmentally-sound recovery of used plastic bags and packaging materials, including bearing the cost of plastic pollution and mitigation.

The green groups also urged the public to remind President Noynoy Aquino of his position on the issue of plastic bags as indicated in his response to the pre-election survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace.

“I’m for a ban on single-use plastic bags and other plastic-based disposable containers. Over the longer term we must have greater use of biodegradable materials for packaging and containers, and have a sound plan for recovery and recycling of plastics,” then presidential candidate Aquino said.

The groups cited the numerous benefits of taking decisive action against plastic bags such as 1) preventing storm drains and waterways from getting clogged and causing street flooding, 2) protecting coral reefs and all marine animals from plastic entanglement and digestive blockages, 3) reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and other harmful chemicals linked with the production, transportation, consumption and disposal of plastic bags,and 4) reversing the “plasticization” of our lifestyle with the increased promotion and adoption of eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives.

Citing data from the Ocean Conservancy’s 2010 annual report entitled “Trash Travels,” the organizers reveal that plastic bags rank first as the most littered items in Philippine seas at 300,715 pieces, followed by food wrappers and containers at 110,930, straws and stirrers 40,280, paper bags 32,026 and clothing and shoes 30,223.

A discards survey conducted in 2006 by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace found synthetic plastic materials comprising 76 percent of the floating trash in Manila Bay, with plastic bags constituting 51 percent.

Organized by the Catalan Foundation for Waste Prevention and Responsible Consumption, Amigos de la Tierra, Ecologistas de Catalunya and GAIA, the 2010 IPBFD seeks to raise public awareness on the problems with the overconsumption of plastic bags and other disposables and the urgency of adopting ecological values and lifestyle choices.

The 2010 IPBFD in the Philippines drew over 50 participants from the Buklod Tao, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability GAIA, Health Care Without Harm, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, UP Haring Ibon, Sining Yapak, Zero Waste Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat.


1. 5 Gyres

2. “Trash from Our Hands, to the Sea and Around the Globe through Time" http://www.oceanconservancy.org/site/PageServer?pagename=program_marinedebris_ICCreport

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