31 August 2010

Groups Support “Take Back” Policy for Mercury-Containing Lamp Waste

Quezon City. A government-led initiative to introduce extended producer responsibility (EPR) for mercury-containing lamp waste has earned the support of waste and pollution non-government organizations (NGOs).

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) expressed confidence that a robust EPR policy initiative will be crafted and enforced to curb the deleterious health and environmental impacts arising from the disposal of spent compact fluorescent lamps in waste bins and dumps.

Last week, the Department of Energy (DoE), in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), hosted an inception meeting on the feasibility and policy study of developing and establishing EPR for mercury-containing lamp waste.

Aside from DoE and DENR, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), importers and distributors of energy efficient lightings, hazardous waste treaters and environmental NGOs took part in the meeting.

“True, we have switched from inefficient incandescent bulbs to efficient lighting systems such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). But it comes with a price – mercury is an integral component of CFLs. And mercury, if not properly disposed of, poses health hazards to humankind and the environment,” said DoE Undersecretary Loreta Ayson.

EPR, also known as “producer take back,” is a system in which producers take responsibility, physical and/or financial, for the environmental and social impacts of their products throughout their life cycle.

“Specifically, this will mean that producers of fluorescent lamps will be in charge of the collection, processing and reclamation of their products when they are no longer useful or discarded,” said Thony Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT.

“At present, there is no safe system for managing end-of-life lamps, which are often thrown into regular bins and sent to disposal sites where these are dumped, burned or recycled in unsafe conditions,” he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier complained to former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes and former Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza about the problematic disposal of burnt-out lamps that exposes informal recyclers in dumpsites and junk shops and their immediate communities to mercury, a highly toxic substance.

“We envisioned a robust EPR that will impose lower levels of mercury in CFLs imported into the country, uphold consumer right to full product and safety information, internalize the environmental costs, and operate an environmentally-sound system for managing spent lamps, including a collection scheme that is easy for the public to access,” said Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator of GAIA.

“This effort, we also hope, will lead to greater industry commitment to invest in product research and development to mainstream energy efficient and climate-friendly lights that are mercury-free,” he said.

During the meeting, environmental advocates also pressed the DoE to ensure meaningful stakeholders’ participation in the establishment of a proposed “mercury waste management facility,” stressing the importance of public views being fully heard and considered.

Under the country’s laws, namely Republic Act 6969 and Republic Act 9003, lamp waste is considered hazardous and should not be mixed with recyclable and compostable discards. These laws further require the proper management and disposal of lamp waste through appropriate hazardous waste treatment facilities.

Data from the Philippine Efficient Lighting Market Transformation Project (PELMATP) show that 88% of households and 77 % of commercial establishments surveyed disposed their lamp waste as domestic waste.

The DoE has commissioned the International Institute for Energy Conservation and Innogy Solutions, Inc. to conduct the said feasibility and policy study on EPR for mercury-containing lamp waste.


Note:
RA 6969 = Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Act
RA 9003 = Ecological Solid Waste Management Act

Philippine Efficient Lighting Market Transformation Project (PELMATP)
http://www.doe.gov.ph/pelmatp/

EcoWaste Coalition welcomes MMDA’s renewed campaign against litterbugs

Quezon City. A group campaigning for a “litter-free Pilipinas” welcomed the decision by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to revive an anti-littering policy that has been dormant for years.

The EcoWaste Coalition in a statement said that the move to resuscitate MMDA Regulation No. 96-009 as amended by MMDA Regulation No. 99-006 should strengthen the agency’s operations, in collaborationwith local government units (LGUs), to clear the streets and waterways of trash.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino vowed recently to implement the ban on littering, dumping and disposal of trash in public places as embodied in the said regulation that penalizes violators with a fine of P500 to P1,000 or a corrective community service.

“We seek and support the earnest enforcement of R.A. 9003 and related ordinances and measures by the MMDA and the 17 LGUs to curb indiscriminate waste disposal and encourage environmental stewardship among Metro Manila residents,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, promotes waste avoidance and volume reduction, separation of discards at source, reuse, recycling, composting and other best practices in waste management sans incineration.

“Littering affects everyone even those who litter,” said Alvarez. “We all suffer from this filthy habit that chokes storm drains and triggers disruptive and health-threatening flashfloods,” he said.

“A crackdown on litterbugs is justified in order to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare,” Alvarez pointed out.

“Launching a litter-free Metro Manila campaign is a meaningful way to observe the first anniversary of Ondoy’s epic flood, which falls within the Creation Month, and affirm our environmental responsibility,” he suggested.

“Christians from various denominations mark September as the Creation Month to remind the faithful about our relationship with Mother Nature and our shared mission to respect and care for her,” he added.

As the EcoWaste Coalition urges the government and people to make the metropolis and the whole country litter-free, the group issued a list of 10 friendly reminders for all caring Filipinos to consider to foster cleaner and healthier communities:

1. Set a good example, especially for kids, by not littering; discourage others from doing so by politely explaining the effects of littering.

2. Reduce your waste size, separate and reuse your discards, recycle the non-biodegradables and compost the organics.

3. Do not throw hazardous discards such as mercury-containing lamps into regular trash.

4. Do not leave your trash out by the road for collection.

5. Avoid using plastic bags and other single-use disposable items that only add to our mounting garbage; choose reusables.

6. Hold on to your rubbish such as bus tickets, food wrappers and cigarette filters, until you have found a waste bin.

7. Do not throw litter out of cars. Place a litter bag in your vehicle to collect your trash until a bin is available.

8. For chewing gum consumers: “you chew it, you must bin it.”

9. For smokers: “don’t just drop cigarette butt, bin it.”

10.For pet owners: “don’t give your dog a bad name, pick up after them.”

-end-

24 August 2010

Cebu waste workers take a break to discuss threats from toxic chemicals

Mandaue City/Quezon City. Some members of the Cebu informal waste sector (IWS) yesterday took a half-day off from their backbreaking work to talk about chemical risks associated with their “climate cooling,” but hazard-prone occupation.

The participating waste pickers, garbage collectors and junkshop owners, who either work or live near dumpsite communities in the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Talisay and in the town of Umapad, took part in a workshop on chemical safety, focusing on the concerns of the IWS.

They were joined by government and civil society representatives who also came to learn about the occupational safety and health issues affecting the IWS and explore possibilities of working together to limit, if not eliminate, waste workers’ exposure to harmful chemicals.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and toxic watchdog, organized the workshop in partnership with the City Government of Mandaue, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region VII, Freedom from Debt Coalition-Cebu and Sanlakas.

“The IWS plays a very significant role in recycling valuable materials that are ultimately returned and reused by the economy. By cutting greenhouse gas emissions from waste disposal and from the use of virgin materials, recycling by the IWS and the society generate climate cooling effects,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats) .

“However, their work is fraught with serious risks and hazards such as the tendency to be exposed to harmful substances, sharp objects and infectious materials,” she added.

A study conducted in 2004 by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Mother Earth Foundation and the Smokey Mountain Resource Recovery Systems, in collaboration with groups in Cambodia and India, says that “exposure to a cocktail of toxic fumes and other chemicals in the dump and from open burning is a major threat to the health of the community.”

Some of the prevailing practices that expose waste workers to a range of highly toxic chemicals include burning PVC coated copper wires (that releases dioxins,”the most toxic man-made chemical”), smashing open TV cathode ray tubes to remove copper yokes (that releases large quantities of lead, a neurotoxin, and other chemicals of concern), crashing spent fluorescent lamps with mercury (another neurotoxicant), and cutting open electrical equipment containing poisonous oils like polychlorinated biphenyls (a suspected human carcinogen), among others.

Eileen Sison, NGO representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, who spoke at the workshop, reported that “the government has already formulated a national framework plan for the IWS and if the IWS in Cebu can work together, they can be recognized by their local government and have secure and safe access to livelihood from recycling.”

“A collaborative approach involving the IWS, the government, private sector and the civil society is essential to improve the working and living conditions of the IWS and to address issues concerning chemical safety, public health and environmental protection,” she pointed out.

-end-

References:
“Informal-Formal: Creating Opportunities for t he Informal Waste Recycling Sector in Asia”
http://www.chintan-india.org/?page=oi_research

“National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in National Solid Waste Management”
http://emb.gov.ph/nswmc/pdf/final%20report%20informal%20sector.pdf

23 August 2010

Open Letter to Hon. DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and Hon. EMB Director Juan Miguel Cuna

23 August 2010

Hon. Ramon J.P. Paje

Secretary
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Hon. Juan Miguel Cuna
Director
Environmental Management Bureau

Dear Secretary Paje and Director Cuna,

PETITION TO STOP CYANIDE POISONING

We, concerned groups and individuals, declare unity with EcoWaste Coalition in asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to lead dutifully the most pressing collaborative task required to combat the alarming incidence of deaths attributed to the accidental and deliberate ingestion of cyanide-containing silver jewelry cleaners.

This deadly concoction has become a modern day scourge linked to senseless deaths of young, adolescent and adult Filipinos.

Data from the UP National Poison Management and Control Center (UPNPMCC) indicate that in 2009 alone, 11 Filipinos (three in the adult age group and eight in the pediatric age group) died out of 235 cases of silver cleaner poisoning handled by or referred to the PGH-based group. From January to June 2010, nine have already died (four adults and five children). Other poison centers of the Department of Health (DOH) have reported the same picture in their admissions and referrals from other hospitals.

The non-accidental intake of silver cleaners, according to the UPNPMCC, has also risen from 7% in 2005 to 86% in 2009, a quantum leap in suicidal cases that has alarmed health, police and church authorities as well as chemical safety advocates in the civil society.

These senseless deaths could have been prevented if only the ban on the commercial use of cyanide (i.e., as one of the chemical additives of silver cleaners) had been firmly enforced. Our government can stop this deadly onslaught by enforcing the ban and bringing to court unscrupulous producers, distributors and vendors of this toxic stuff who, knowingly or unwittingly, victimize innocent children and exploit people’s despair.

To our mind, being the agency that issued the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Cyanide and Cyanide Compounds, the DENR -- particularly the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) -- is chiefly and legally responsible in duly implementing the ban that they rightly imposed in 1997.

Whether or not silver cleaners are classified as products or substances, the fact remains that the CCO is shamelessly violated, thus endangering the people’s health and safety.

Where people are exposed to lethal harm, apathy and indecisiveness must never be an option. We therefore urge the DENR-EMB to respond to this toxic challenge by:

1. Strictly enforcing the ban on the use of cyanide in silver jewelry cleaners.

2. Confiscating, in collaboration with law enforcement units, silver cleaners that are not duly registered, tested and certified as cyanide-free and not bearing all the labelling requirements; and duly charging violators.

3. Promoting non-toxic alternatives to cleaning tarnished jewelry.

An “Oplan Silver Cleaner,” led by the DENR-EMB and supported by other stakeholders, should be launched with urgency, mindful that we are racing against time to save the next Filipino from getting injured and killed by cyanide poisoning.

Signed by:

FROM LUZON:

Roy Alvarez, Alaga LAHAT
Chin-Chin Gutierrez, Alaga LAHAT
Dina Panganiban-Mejia, Angkan ng Mandirigma - UP Diliman
Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Ang NARS
Velvet Roxas, Arugaan/Save Babies Coalition
Risa Hontiveros-Barraquel, AKBAYAN
Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics
Joey C. Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao
Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
Com. Elsie Brandes-De Veyra, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Esther Pacheco, Citizens Organziation Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Rene Pineda, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Noemi N. Tirona, Consumer Rights for Safe Food
Manny C. Calonzo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Dr. Angelina Galang, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy
Merci Ferrer, Health Care Without Harm
Com. Eileen Sison, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives
Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
Secretariat, SVD Central Province
George Dadivas, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation
Neneng Joson, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation
Romy Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
Isagani Serrano, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
Marie Marciano, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkong ng Inang Kalikasan
Dr. Helen Mendoza, Soljuspax
Fr. Archie Casey SX, Xaverian Missionaries/Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission-Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines
Ofelia Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines
Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr.
Atty. Armand H. Mejia, Counsel, EcoWaste Coalition
Assoc. Prof. Angelina Nunag Tiotangco
Juana Flores, Alay Kapwa Social Action Center
Rosita Tumangan, Alay Kapwa Social Action Center
Elizabeth Garcia, Apostolado ng Panalangin
Loida P. Santos, Catholic Women’s League
Beth Genuino, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Aurea Gotopeng, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Analee Odrade,Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Maricel Patiag, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Maritess Santiago, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Rommel Ternida, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Angie Esquejo, Empowerment
Argee Esquejo,Empowerment
Macky Singh, Empowerment
Charie Balaong, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Bing Gonzales, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Margie Lacanilao, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Lorelei Laureta, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Dolor Simbilio, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Raymond Eugenio, Knights of Columbus
Jun Bautista, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Roberto Bolinao, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Mario Cabling, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Mercedes Cabling, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Michael Calma, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Bernadette Capule, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Ruel Capule, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Louie Chua, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Zenaida del Rosario, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Olivia V. Jacoba, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Amy Fe Juane, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Evelyn Manucdoc, Legion of Mary
Ma. Teresa M. Oliva, Miriam PEACE
Nena Beltran, Mother Butler Guild
Jocelyn Baroceros, National Mental Health Association
Elmo Austria, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Banjo Biray, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Gerry Gelle, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Rodolfo Mendoza, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Ramonito Sanchez, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Eduardo Delfin, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Felina Delfin, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Emily Garubo, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Liezl Parungao, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Ami Sanchez, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Gilbert Mactal, PPC-SNT
Lydia Cornelio, San Lorenzo Ruiz Association
Irma Perez, Soroptimist International
Morito V. Tatel, Young Men Christian Association
Batong Sandigan Development Foundation
Barangay Yakal Materials Recovery Facilities, Silang, Cavite
Catechesis Ministry of St. Joseph
Ecology Ministry of Candelaria Parish, Cavite
Ecology Ministry of Resurrection Parish, Cavite
Ecology Ministry of St. Joseph Parish, Cavite
Isaiahville Home Owners Association
Koro ni San Jose
Lay Minister of the Word St Joseph, Cavite
Likhang Kalikasan – LIKAS
Maskara – Green Stage Filipinas
Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Maguyam – Cavite
Shoreline Kabalikat sa Kinabukasan, Inc.
Sining Yapak
Ternatenos Against Landfill Association

FROM VISAYAS:

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Philippine Earth Justice Center
(39 other signatories to be uploaded)

FROM MINDANAO:

Angelina Ludivice Katoh, Alternative Center for Organizational Reforms and Development (ACORD), Zamboanga City
Danilo Remoroza, Building Alternative Rural Resource Institution and Organizing Services (BARRIOS), General Santos City
Engr. Fernando Salise, Human Ecological and Economic Development (HEED) Foundation, Agusan del Sur
Lia Esquillo, Interface Development Interventions
Nariman Ambolodto, Institute for Strategic Initiatives (ISI), ARMM
Philip Beda, Iranun Development Council (IDC), Maguindanao
Betty T. Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc.
Junalyn Gayak-Sumlay, Magungaya Center for PALMA, North Cotabato
Edwin Mayormita, Pagdumala Inc., Davao City
Victor Parra Jr., People's Alternative Development Center (PADC), Davao Oriental
Donel Fernandez, People's Reform Advocates thru Participatory Good Governance (PRAPGG), Iligan City
Tom Villarin, Siad Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development (SIMCARRD)
Jonathan Cortez, Solidarity for Peace, Empowerment and Equity-led Development (SPEED), Cotabato City

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

22 August 2010

Cebu groups back pioneering project to rid RP of PCBs

Cebu City/Quezon City. Cebu non-government organizations (NGOs) and other civil society groups have thrown their support behind a collaborative venture to manage the country’s stockpiles of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) wastes in an environmentally-sound manner.

PCBs, which belong to the so-called “dirty dozen” POPs (persistent organic pollutants), are oily liquids used widely as dielectric fluids in old electrical transformers and capacitors. Because of their adverse health and environmental effects, countries, including the Philippines, are taking steps to phase out and eliminate the use of PCBs.

At a workshop held yesterday in the University of Cebu on “precautionary principle,” some 30 participants representing 19 Cebu-based groups expressed their support for the initiative that is fittingly named as the “Non-Com POPs Project” for applying a non-combustion technology to get rid of PCBs.

With support from the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, a non-combustion facility will soon commence operations in the province of Bataan to process PCB wastes, including PCB-contaminated equipment and materials.

“We are thrilled by this expression of support from Cebu that we hope will translate into increased public awareness on PCBs and vigilance against any improper storage, ‘recycling’ and disposal, which can result to toxic exposure and harm,” said Rey Palacio, project staff, EcoWaste Coalition.

Citing information from the “Code of Practice on the Management of PCBs” published by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), the EcoWaste Coalition warned that PCBs, recognized as a suspected human carcinogen, are “toxic, bioaccumulative and persistent, thus posing risks to health and the environment.”

“Informed NGOs and other organized groups are in the best position to disseminate information locally and to alert the DENR-EMB regional office of activities that can expose the people and the ecosystems to PCBs,” he said.

The statement signed by the groups listed how the Philippines will benefit from the “Non-Com POPs Project," such as in:

1. Fulfilling the people’s constitutional rights to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology;

2. Abiding by the DENR phase out target for PCBs by 2014 as stated in the Chemical Control Order for PCBs;

3. Building national capacity to manage PCBs through a non-combustion approach in line with the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act.

4. Complying with our obligations as party to the Stockholm Convention on POPs; and

5. Setting a good example for the environmentally-sound management of PCBs that developing countries can learn from and replicate.

Acknowledging the necessity of “working together to realize a toxics-free future,” the groups committed to “educate the public about PCBs and the project, and participate in efforts to ensure the safety of our ecosystems and our people, especially our children, women, industrial workers, waste handlers, and informal recyclers, against exposure to PCBs and other harmful chemicals.”

-end-

References:

Non-Com POPs Project Website:
http://www.emb.gov.ph/UNIDO-NonCom%20Web%201/index.html

Code of Practice on the Management of PCBs:
http://www.emb.gov.ph/hazardous/PCBCODEPRACTICEPDF.pdf


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

21 August 2010

GREENS HAIL COURT ORDER AS VICTORY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND JUSTICE (Green groups promote precautionary principle to combat toxic threat)

Cebu City/Quezon City. Environmental advocates todaylauded a court directive halting the disposal of coal combustion waste, or coal ash, by power plants in Naga and Toledo Cities as a triumph for environmental health and justice.

Participants of a workshop on the “precautionary principle” in Cebu City applauded the issuance yesterday by the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City of a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) to remedy "indiscriminate coal ash disposal" in Naga and Toledo.

Organized by the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition and the Cebu City-based Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC), the workshop emphasized adherence to the precautionary principle as fundamental to promoting chemical safety and a toxic-free society for all.

“We commend and congratulate the PEJC and other concerned groups and residents who acted as petitioners for invoking the precautionary principle to uphold the constitutional rights of affected communities from improperly disposed coal ash, which constitutes a public health hazard,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Precaution, a universally-accepted principle, tells us to err on the side of caution if only to ensure the health and safety of our people and the environment from toxic risks,” he explained.

Law professor Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, PEJC Coordinator, said that the TEPO, a milestone in environmental defense, was made possible by the adoption of the Supreme Court under then Chief Justice Reynato Puno of the "Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases."

"The remedies afforded to citizens under the Rules are empowering and should send strong a strong signal to law enforcement agencies, including local government units, to shape up and comply with their mandates. We cannot allow polluting industries to continue treating residents of host communities as second class citizens in their own country and destroying our life support systems," she said.

For his part Atty. Benjamin Cabrido, Jr., counsel for petitioners, said: "This TEPO against coal-fired power plants is a moral victory for the Filipino children and future generations who will be bearing the brunt of climate change. Now our generation can say that during our watch, we at least did try to make a difference."

In a citizen's suit filed last week, PEJC and other petitioners said that “even in the absence of full scientific certainty as to the how much harm coal ash affects the health of petitioners and the ecosystem, this Court is still required under the rules to exercise and adopt a precautionary attitude.”

As stated in the "Supreme Court Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases," the following factors may, among others, be considered in applying the precautionary principle: 1) threats to human life or health, 2) inequity to present or future generations, or 3) prejudice to the environment without legal consideration of the environmental rights of those affected.

The workshop featured internationally-recognized public health advocate Dr. Romy Quijano, a toxicologist, who spoke about the elements of the precautionary principle and the need for vigilance to “protect human health and the environment and to prevent any potential adverse effects.”

The workshop also discussed various initiatives to mainstream the precautionary principle in environmental legislation and governance such as in the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

As a concrete example, the EcoWaste Coalition cited the ongoing UN-assisted project to eliminate the country’s stockpiles of polychlorinated biphenyls, the highly toxic oil found in old electrical transformers, using a non-combustion technology.

“The collaborative effort to rid the country of PCBs through a non-burn approach without emitting toxic byproducts should serve as a model in the path to make the precautionary principle the cornerstone of any activity, specifically when dealing with hazardous chemicals,” said Rey Palacio, project staff of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The workshop also saw the participants discussing the “Citizens’ Agenda for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety Agenda,” enriching the document with issues and demands specific to Cebu and the Visayas, such as the problem with coal combustion waste and its disposal.

-end-

Greens Hail Court Order as Victory for Environmental Health and Justice (groups promote precautionary principle to combat toxic threat)

Environmental advocates today lauded a court directive halting the disposal of coal combustion waste, or coal ash, by power plants in Naga and Toledo Cities as a triumph for environmental health and justice.

Participants of a workshop on the “precautionary principle” in Cebu City applauded the issuance yesterday by the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City of a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) to remedy "indiscriminate coal ash disposal" in Naga and Toledo.

Organized by the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition and the Cebu City-based Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC), the workshop emphasized adherence to the precautionary principle as fundamental to promoting chemical safety and a toxic-free society for all.

“We commend and congratulate the PEJC and other concerned groups and residents who acted as petitioners for invoking the precautionary principle to uphold the constitutional rights of affected communities from improperly disposed coal ash, which constitutes a public health hazard,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Precaution, a universally-accepted principle, tells us to err on the side of caution if only to ensure the health and safety of our people and the environment from toxic risks,” he explained.

Law professor Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, PEJC Coordinator, said that the TEPO, a milestone in environmental defense, was made possible by the adoption of the Supreme Court under then Chief Justice Reynato Puno of the "Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases."

"The remedies afforded to citizens under the Rules are empowering and should send strong a strong signal to law enforcement agencies, including local government units, to shape up and comply with their mandates. We cannot allow polluting industries to continue treating residents of host communities as second class citizens in their own country and destroying our life support systems," she said.

For his part Atty. Benjamin Cabrido, Jr., counsel for petitioners, said: "This TEPO against coal-fired power plants is a moral victory for the Filipino children and future generations who will be bearing the brunt of climate change. Now our generation can say that during our watch, we at least did try to make a difference."

In a citizen's suit filed last week, PEJC and other petitioners said that “even in the absence of full scientific certainty as to the how much harm coal ash affects the health of petitioners and the
ecosystem, this Court is still required under the rules to exercise and adopt a precautionary attitude.”

As stated in the "Supreme Court Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases," the following factors may, among others, be considered in applying the precautionary principle: 1) threats to human life or health, 2) inequity to present or future generations, or 3) prejudice to the environment without legal consideration of the environmental rights of those affected.

The workshop featured internationally-recognized public health advocate Dr. Romy Quijano, a toxicologist, who spoke about the elements of the precautionary principle and the need for vigilance to “protect human health and the environment and to prevent any potential adverse effects.”

The workshop also discussed various initiatives to mainstream the precautionary principle in environmental legislation and governance such as in the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

As a concrete example, the EcoWaste Coalition cited the ongoing UN-assisted project to eliminate the country’s stockpiles of polychlorinated biphenyls, the highly toxic oil found in old electrical transformers, using a non-combustion technology.

“The collaborative effort to rid the country of PCBs through a non-burn approach without emitting toxic byproducts should serve as a model in the path to make the precautionary principle the cornerstone of any activity, specifically when dealing with hazardous chemicals,” said Rey Palacio, project staff of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The workshop also saw the participants discussing the “Citizens’ Agenda for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety Agenda,” enriching the document with issues and demands specific to Cebu and the Visayas, such as the problem with coal combustion waste and its disposal.

-end-

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

16 August 2010

Chemical Safety Groups Push “Oplan Silver Cleaner” to Finally Stop Cyanide Poisoning

Quezon City. Chemical safety groups urged the government to wage an all-out campaign to purge the market of highly poisonous silver cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic chemicals.

In a letter sent today to Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, Director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) proposed the conduct of “Oplan Silver Cleaner” to permanently cut the supply chain of this lethal concoction that has claimed the lives of many Filipinos.

The groups made the proposal in time for the EMB-convened multi-stakeholders’ consultation on August 17 to halt the unabated incidence of cyanide poisoning due to the accidental or deliberate ingestion of silver jewelry cleaning agents.

“We welcome this timely effort that should plot a robust plan of action to enforce the ban on cyanide-laced silver cleaners, which are poisonous and may be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT.

“Silver cleaners containing sodium or potassium cyanide salts and other toxic substances continue to cause preventable mortalities among young children who mistook them for water, and adults who purposely drank them to commit suicide,” lamented retired chemist Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson of MEF.

“Through ‘Oplan Silver Cleaner,’ we hope to terminate this string of gruesome injuries and deaths from cyanide poisoning that has brought untold suffering and pain to the victims and their families. This should also lead to popularizing non-toxic alternatives to polish tarnished silver jewelry,” said Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator of GAIA.

The "Oplan Silver Cleaner," the groups said, should serve the goal of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) of protecting human health and the ecosytems from harms caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.

To be effective, “Oplan Silver Cleaner” should involve all major stakeholders, including concerned government departments, law enforcement agencies, poison management and control units, jewelry industry associations, public interest groups and the mass media, the groups said.

Citing information from the UP National Poison Management and Control Center (UPNPMCC) – Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Poison Control Unit - East Avenue Medical Center, the groups said that silver jewelry cleaners have become one of the top three toxicants among patients admitted during the past two years in these major public hospitals.

Based on information provided by the UPNPMCC to the EcoWaste Coalition, the Center handled a total of 235 in-patient admissions in PGH and 118 telephone referrals in 2009, involving 241 cases from adult age group and 112 from pediatric age group.

The UPNPMCC also reported 11 mortalities in 2009 (six from in-patient admissions and five from telephone referrals), involving three adult and eight pediatric cases. From January to June 2010, the Center reported nine mortalities (four from in-patient admissions and five from telephone referrals), comprising four adult and five pediatric cases.

A July 2010 advisory by the Department of Health (DOH) says that “cyanide found in most of the silver cleaning solutions is classified as a poisonous substance liable to cause death or serious injury to human health.”

According to the DOH, “cyanide is rapidly absorbed in the body and blocks utilization of oxygen in all organs.” As such, “poisoning with silver jewelry cleaner is a life-threatening condition and should be treated in the hospital as a medical emergency.”

The DENR in 1997 issued a “Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Cyanide and Cyanide Compounds” to control their use and dispersion into the environment and avoid adverse consequences. Cyanide and cyanide compounds are highly toxic to humans and aquatic life even at low concentrations, according to the CCO.

-end-

13 August 2010

EcoWaste Coalition proposes use of excess rice stocks to also pay for cleanup and declogging operations

Quezon City. An environmental network campaigning for a “litter-free Pilipinas” urged President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III to dedicate part of the excess rice inventory of the National Food Authority (NFA) to support anti-littering and declogging operations, particularly in disaster-prone estero communities.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the proposal following the separate visits by P-Noy to a estero near Mendiola Bridge on August 10 and by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim on August 12 to Estero de San Miguel and Estero de Paco.

The government through Secretary Paje vowed to clean up within one year these two of the 48 tributaries that drain into the Pasig River, which can serve as a template for estero rehabilitation in Metro Manila.

“In addition to giving the excess rice to needy families to feed malnourished children, we urge P-Noy to use the rice surplus to assist local government units (LGUs) in paying for the cleanup of filthy streets and clogged drains and esteros,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The LGUs will surely need extra help in ensuring the ecological cleanup and maintenance of littering and flooding hotspots in Metro Manila, especially in low-lying areas that get easily inundated by heavy rains,” he said.

“The LGUs should be able to responsibly handle the additional esources to enable them to combat littering that spurs flooding,” he further said.

“This ‘food-for-cleanup’ scheme will contribute to ongoing flood prevention and preparedness efforts as well as in keeping our esteros and surroundings clean,” he added.

“We only hope that volunteers are given adequate orientation on ecological waste management before they are duly deployed to avoid certain problems such as the unhealthy practice of burning street litter,” he pointed out.

The EcoWaste Coalition weighed in on the issue of excess rice stocks in NFA warehouses as the government prepares the guidelines for their distribution and use.

The over importation of rice has almost doubled the NFA’s current rice inventory amounting to 41 million metric tons, according to government sources.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier urged P-Noy to lead the campaign for a “litter-free Pilipinas” in view of the anticipated rains and floods during the rainy season.

10 August 2010

Toxic Watchdog: Test buys show disgusting truth about the continued sale of banned mercury-tainted cosmetics


Quezon City. It is still business as usual for vendors of imported skin lightening creams that the government had earlier tested and banned for containing high amounts of mercury, a toxic chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group campaigning for chemical safety, came to this conclusion after purchasing eight (8) brands of the proscribed skin whitening creams in various retail outlets in seven cities in Metro Manila.

“It is obvious from the result of our test buys that the ban on mercury-tainted skin whitening creams is far from being enforced. It’s high time for the government to flex its muscle, conduct stringent monitoring nationwide, and apprehend the culprits. Let us protect unsuspecting consumers from being deceived and harmed by ensuring that only pre-tested mercury-free cosmetics are sold in shops,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“In addition, we urge the authorities to test the numerous skin whitening soaps that have been proliferating in the market for possible mercury contents,” she added.

“In the meantime, we advise cosmetics consumers to check the product labels carefully, reject products listing mercury or any of its forms as ingredients and refuse those that fail to provide adequate information. Without batting an eyelash, consumers should say no to products that list ingredients in a language that they cannot understand,” she also said.

In the test purchases conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol from August 6-9, 2010, volunteers were able to buy six (6) of the 11 products that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned in June 2010, and two (2) of the nine (9) products that the agency banned in February 2010.

These were 1) Doctor Bai Skin Revitalizing Skin Brightening Cream, 2) Gemli Glutathione Hydrolyzed Collagen Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 3) Glutathione Grapeseed Extract Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 4) JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 5) Sheng Li Day and Night Cream, and 6) S’Zitang Cream, which were banned under FDA Circular 2010-011.

Also, they managed to buy 1) Jiao Li Huichusu Whitening Speckles Removal Cream and 2) Jiao Li 7-Days Eliminating Freckle AB Set, both banned under FDA Circular 2010-004.

The volunteers bought the outlawed cosmetics from food supplement shops operating in various commercial establishments in Monumento, Caloocan City (Grand Central Mall and Victory Mall), Guadalupe, Makati City (Guadalupe Commercial Center and Uni Mec Supermarket), Dagat-dagatan, Malabon City (Malabon Citisquare), Alabang, Muntinlupa City (Starmall) and Cubao, Quezon City (Farmers’ Plaza and Shopwise).

The rest were bought from Chinese medicine stores in Binondo (Ongpin and 168 Mall) and Quiapo (Carriedo), Manila, and in tiangge stalls in Mandaluyong City (Starmall) and Cubao, Quezon City (Farmers’ Plaza).

Despite pending FDA Case No. NCR-DR/CS-10-266 “for selling and offering for sale banned drug products, unregistered and misbranded cosmetic products,” Lam Kang Drugstore in Quiapo was found selling at least three brands of the banned mercury-tainted skin whitening creams (Jiao Li, JJJ and S-Zitang).

The continued vigilance of the EcoWaste Coalition against mercury-tainted cosmetics has prompted the FDA to investigate and files cases against some of the alleged violators.

Aside from Lam Kang Drugstore, the FDA has filed Case No. NCR-DR-10-334 against Five Star Chinese Drugstore in Binondo “for selling and offering for sale unregistered and misbranded cosmetic products.”

Citing information from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the EcoWaste Coalition warns that mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects, including skin rashes, discolouring and scarring, and can reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders.

Direct and prolonged exposure through the skin during repeated applications, according to UNEP, can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys.

-end-

Additional information for the media:

To ensure consumer protection against mercury-containing cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition has asked the Food and Drug Administration to:

(a) to 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;

(b) to 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.

(c) to enforce the required labeling requirements under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Consumer Protection Act, Food and Drug Administration Act and other pertinent laws.

(d) to 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.

(e) to establish a hotline where consumers can obtain recall and general product safety information as well as report violation of recall orders, and

(f) to publish detailed reports to inform the public on how recall orders were implemented.

09 August 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Urges DOT Chief to Pursue Predecessor's "Zero Tourism Waste" Policy

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog has appealed to Secretary Alberto Lim to resuscitate and enforce an environmental policy adopted by the previous leadership of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

In a letter e-mailed, faxed and delivered today to the office of Secretary Lim, the EcoWaste Coalition requested him to implement DOT Memorandum Circular No. 2005-04 signed by then Secretary Joseph Ace Durano declaring 'Zero Tourism Waste as a goal and direction for
sustainable tourism and development."

“We trust that the implementation of Zero Waste in the tourism sector will be a cornerstone of your strategy to preserve our rich cultural and natural heritage that has been attracting domestic and foreign visitors,” wrote Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Protecting our tourist attractions and destinations from waste and other forms of environmental abuse and neglect is key to any tourism development strategy that will bolster our competitive edge over our Asian neighbors,” he said.

Garbage, the group observed, will not draw tourists from near and afar. In addition to posing health and environmental risks, garbage spoils the beauty of our unique natural as well as Pinoy-made wonders and ultimately drive tourists away, the group said.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged Secretary Lim to adopt “litter-free Pilipinas” as a flagship campaign of the DOT for the entire term of the Aquino presidency.

“Under your leadership, we expect the entire tourism industry to play a high-profile role in instilling environmental awareness and responsibility among all the tourism stakeholders,” Alvarez said.

“The tourism sector will benefit hugely from tidy and waste-free surroundings. Ultimately, the biggest winner in this crusade against littering will be the environment,” he emphasized.

According to the DOT Memorandum Circular 2005-04, "tourism establishments and facilities generate significant volume of waste that can be considerably reduced to zero if a policy on waste
prevention, reduction, separation at source, recycling and composting is put in place and genuinely carried out."

The same policy document seeks, among others, the:

- promotion of education and training on ecological solid waste management (ESWM) in the tourism sector;

- inclusion of ESWM as a basic requirement for the accreditation of hotels and other tourism-related establishments; and the

- greening of tourists events and destinations.

The said policy was adopted following a seminar in November 2004 on "Zero Tourism Waste" held at the DOT and co-organized by the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the Philippine Tourism Authority.

-end-

07 August 2010

Groups Laud P-Noy’s Directive Banning Use of His Name and Image on Government Projects (call on all politicos to follow his lead)

Quezon City. President Benigno “P-Noy’ Aquino III earned praises from civil society groups for issuing a directive banning the use of his name and image in projects funded out of public funds.

The EcoWaste Coalition, Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability (COCAP) and the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) lauded P-Noy for reaffirming his sense of delicadeza and commitment to clean politics.

Ang NARS, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Krusada sa Kalikasan and Mother Earth Foundation likewise commended P-Noy for his latest directive.

They also welcomed the filing of Senate Bill 2187 by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero that will make the naming of government projects after public officials a criminal act punishable with one year imprisonment and a fine of P100, 000 to P1,000,000.

“These initiatives by President Aquino and Senator Escudero are the first steps in dismantling the patronage political system, which should have no place in a genuine democracry,” said law professor Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator, PEJC.

“This may be the destined time for the entire nation to take out from us the kind of politics that we have been so used to – concessional, contractual and gratitudinal. We should never owe it to anyone but ourselves as the power resides in us. We must put an end to subliminal messages of the olden politics that perpetuate our predicament,” sated Rene Pineda, President, COCAP.

“Public funds should be wisely spent to meet the people’s basic needs and to enforce environmental laws, especially since the national budget is extremely tight. Let us stop the practice of planting billboards and hanging tarpaulins for personal airs and political vanity that only wastes resources and aggravates the street litter and clutter. We urge our country’s political leaders to follow the lead of P-Noy,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

On Friday, P-Noy directed all Cabinet members, heads of agencies and instrumentalities and government-owned or controlled corporations not to put up tarpaulins, billboards and other propaganda materials bearing his name and image.

Senate Bill No. 2187 which Escudero filed declares as unlawful any government projects to be named or identified after government officials and other persons whose name or identity may in any manner be associated with said officials.

In a press release issued by his office, Senator Escudero said that "Filipinos have entrusted their money to the government by way of taxes, it is the people's money not the public officials'. Their
offices are merely given the authority, privilege and right to identify, administer, implement, coordinate or propose a government project. Thus, laying personal claim to it should be deemed criminal.”

-end-

05 August 2010

Group Calls for Action to Lessen Toxic Exposure of Waste Pickers

Quezon City. A waste and toxic watchdog pressed the government and the general public to show their appreciation to the very significant role of waste pickers in resource recovery and conservation by taking steps to reduce their exposure to health-damaging chemicals in waste bins and dumps.

The EcoWaste Coalition called for increased societal attention to reducing the occupational health risks faced daily by waste pickers at the first of a series of workshops on chemical safety for vulnerable sectors organized last Tuesday by the group under its Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

The workshop drew participants from waste pickers’ groups based in Pier 18 and Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila as well as Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr. and representatives of the Manila Health Department, National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) and various civil society organizations.

“Kami ay nagagalak sa unti-unting pagkilala sa aming papel sa pagreresiklo ng basura at sa pangangalaga ng kalikasan at klima. Ang pagkilalang ito ay maging instrumento nawa upang mapabuti ang aming marangal subalit peligrosong trabaho at para mapagkalooban kami ng mga batayang serbisyo para sa kapakinabangan ng aming mga pamilya,” said Ka Louie Lizano of the Nagkakaisang Mananambakan ng Dumpsite Area.

Waste pickers have to confront serious occupational health and safety risks due to the nature of their work and the hazardous working and living conditions in dumpsite communities, the workshop participants noted.

“Aside from enduring exposure to the elements such as severe heat, waste pickers have to forage for recyclables in mixed trash containing harmful chemicals, sharp objects and even infectious discards,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT.

“The growing practice of recycling electronic waste and scrap such as spent fluorescent lamps, capacitors and transformers, batteries, computers and TVs in sidewalks, homes and dumpsites can expose waste workers and their communities to extremely toxic chemicals, including mercury, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls and flame retardants, which can cause illness and death,” he added.

"We owe it to the informal waste sector to create and support conditions for recycling that will not put their health and that of their families and communities in danger," he pointed out.

Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr. who also heads the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said that “the waste pickers belong to the poorest of the poor who work in the most difficult and toxic condition to make ends meet.”

“In appreciation of their role in the recycling chain, let us do whatever is necessary to make their work more humane and less injurious to their health,” appealed the Bishop of the Diocese of Caloocan.

Both Emy Aguinaldo, officer-in-charge of the NSWMC, and Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the NSWMC, reported about the ongoing process involving the various stakeholders to respond to the socio-economic and occupational health and safety needs of the informal waste sector.

The EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT, among others, seeks to raise public awareness and action on harmful substances that can endanger human as well as community health and safety.

-end-

04 August 2010

More Public Figures Back Campaign for a "Litter-Free Pilipinas"

Quezon City. Leading political, religious and civil society personalities have thrown their weight behind a timely proposal for President Benigno “ P-Noy” Aquino III to lead a nationwide crusade to make the Philippines litter-free.

A lady senator, an elderly statesman, a prelate, a beauty queen, a former health secretary and the 13th placer in the last senatorial race have expressed support for a campaign to keep the country tidy
and healthy.

Last Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, urged P-Noy to campaign for a “litter-free Pilipinas” in view of the anticipated rains and floods due to the La Niña weather occurrence.

“Garbage thrown in public places ultimately find their way into the ocean causing untold pollution that pose grave threats to marine wildlife and also to humans. A litter-free Pilipinas will contribute to protecting the ocean and the coastal ecosystems,” said Senator Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

For Akbayan senatorial bet Risa Hontiveros, "a litter-free Pilipinas goes beyond clearing our streets and waterways of trash."

"If successfully carried out, it will mean far-reaching departure from the throw-away mindset and ecological apathy to a new people's culture of caring for our Mother Earth. This is one excellent campaign that P-Noy should be concerned about," she said.

"Reckless disposal of discards attracts rodents and pests posing health risks, especially to young children. Let's end this health-threatening habit and work for a clean and safe environment,” said Dr. Jimmy Galvez Tan, a health, wellness and environmental advocate and former health department chief.

Beauty queen-turned-environmentalist Cathy Untalan called to mind the wrath of typhoon Ondoy that ravaged our country last year.

“Now, the slightest rainfall makes many fear of another tragedy waiting to happen. The message is clear: We must learn how to manage our waste or else it finds its way back to us,” said Untalan, who acts as Executive Director of the Miss Earth Foundation.

“We urge our dear President to lead the campaign for a litter-free Philippines the same way he promises to clean up our government of corrupt officials. We painted the town yellow in testimony of our desire to make positive changes in our society. It is now time to wear the color green to symbolize the need for a more ecologically-sound Philippines,” she further said.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. emphasized that a litter-free country corresponds with the “people’s quest to enjoy a better quality of life in clean, healthy and safe communities.”

“It’s important for P-Noy to be at the forefront of this campaign against littering, which is becoming a national embarrassment that has to be eliminated just like graft and corruption,” added Iñiguez, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Statesman and former Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. agreed that "a litter-free Philippines completes a corruption-free country."

-end-

03 August 2010

Prelate Joins Call for "Litter-Free Pilipinas"

A Catholic bishop has joined the growing clamor for President Benigno "P-Noy" Aquino III to lead a national campaign towards a "litter-free Pilipinas."

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., who also heads the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said that such a campaign is in line with the ancient proverb “cleanliness is next to godliness.”

“A litter-free Pilipinas bodes well for our people’s quest to enjoy a better quality of life in clean, healthy and safe communities and mirrors our adherence to the popular adage ‘cleanliness is next to godliness,’ which is well known among Filipinos,” he said.

Bishop Iñiguez expressed sadness that the prevalent practice of dropping litter anywhere is turning to be a major national shame similar to dishonesty in public service that P-Noy has vowed to get rid of.

“It’s important for P-Noy to be at the forefront of this campaign against littering, which is becoming a national embarrassment that has to be eliminated just like graft and corruption,” he also said.

“We need to do away with this destructive practice of littering that, sad to say, shows our lack of respect for the environment, our neighbors and all God’s works,” he added.

Echoing the 2010 New Year’s message of Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Iñiguez drew attention to the ecological crisis and the need to “exercise responsible stewardship over the environment.”

“As Pope Benedict XVI told us, we need to examine our lifestyle amid the environmental degradation that we are seeing around us, rein in consumerism and promote a greater respect for nature,” he said.

Bishop Iñiguez also invited the clergy and the laity to support the call for “litter-free Pilipinas” by integrating ecological value formation in all pastoral programs and services.

The CBCP in a pastoral letter issued in November 2008 had recommended that dioceses, parishes and other institutions foster education on the protection of nature and encouraged every citizen to eliminate wasteful consumption.

On Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and toxic watchdog, appealed to P-Noy to lead a nationwide campaign for a “litter-free Pilipinas” following his call for environmental care, particularly in the ecological management of discards.

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

02 August 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Asks P-Noy to Lead Campaign for "Litter-Free Pilipinas" (calls for tough action vs littering to prevent La Niña flood woes)

Taking their cue from President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s speech commemorating the first death anniversary of his mother former President Cory Aquino where he cited the role of all citizens in fighting poverty and corruption, including “by disposing of our waste properly,” Zero waste advocates asked P-Noy to show the way towards a "litter-free Pilipinas".

As the La Niña weather phenomenon threatens the country with more rains beginning August, the EcoWaste Coalition urged P-Noy, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and other national and local officials to step up the anti-littering and anti-dumping drive to prevent city floods.

The waste and toxic watchdog pressed the authorities to act decisively against littering and flooding after the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced “above normal rainfall condition” with the onset of La Niña this month.

“We all know that littering clogs up Metro Manila’s drainage system, blocking inlets, canals and waterways and causing flooding or ponding, especially in low-lying areas,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With the participation of community groups and residents, we urge the national and local authorities to launch an all-out drive against litterbugs and pursue declogging operations before the next storm comes. Only by working together can we prevent flashfloods that are partly due to garbage-blocked drains ,” he said.

“We call upon both President Aquino and Environment Secretary Paje to lead the campaign for 'litter-free Pilipinas' and for truly clean and toxic-free communities. Littering is no small matter after all. It is the most obvious and most annoying, but often ignored, environmental crime in the country today,” Alvarez pointed out.

For her part, Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, said that “P-Noy’s fight against corruption and for a clean government should also include purging the system of wasteful practices such as littering and dumping. It was right for P-Noy to say that environmental carelessness, best exemplified by the pollution of Pasig River, is a form of corruption, too, that has to go.”

Littering, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, is a national issue that poses health risks, damages water quality, destroys wildlife habitat, creates a dirty and depressing environment, and eats lots of public funds for cleanup.

Forms of littering vary, from tossing candy wrappers, cigarette butts and spent chewing gums on the streets, disposing garbage into Pasig River and its tributaries, leaving discards along the beach, dog fouling to the discharge of spent motor oils and other hazardous liquids into storm drains and ultimately into Manila Bay, the EcoWaste Coalition explained.

Littering is, in fact, an environmental offense under Section 48 of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits the dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and establishments.

Violators upon conviction can be fined P300-1,000 or render 1 to 15-day community service, or both, according to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9003.

Local government units (LGUs) have enacted ordinances to deter littering within their geographical jurisdictions, which have gone largely unimplemented in many areas due to the lack of political will and effective public education.

To guide the national and local authorities and the citizens in preventing floods and other problems due to mismanaged trash, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with some concrete anti-littering and anti-flooding proposals.

These proposals were contributed by the Alaga Lahat, Ayala Foundation, Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives and the Mother Earth Foundation.

These include organizing anti-littering, declogging and cleanup activities, installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) in littering hotspots, partnering with the informal waste sector for the recovery of recyclables, avoiding plastic bags and other single-use disposables and enforcing ecological solid waste management at all levels.

I. For the National Government:

a. Embark on a nationwide, year-long anti-littering and anti-dumping drive led by the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), which is under the Office of the President and chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

b. Fund the installation of CCTVs in littering hotspots to identify, shame and penalize litterbugs with community service such as estero cleanup.

c. Adopt and enforce Zero Waste policy nationwide, including the implementation of best environmental practices in solid waste management minus open dumping, open burning and incineration.

II. For the Local Government Units:

a. Launch creative campaigns to rid our streets, creeks and rivers of litter that blights the environment and harm public health and the local economy.

b. Enjoin all government agencies, schools, churches, businesses and civic groups to promote and support the anti-littering campaign.

c. Enforce zero littering policy in all outdoor assemblies - be it for political, religious, commercial, health and fitness or simply fun activities. LGUs should strive to make all communy fiestas and other festive events Zero Waste.

d. Immediately start declogging operations with the involvement of concerned community groups and residents.

e. Mobilize all barangay councils in municipality or city-wide cleanup drive with resource retrieval and recycling components.

f. Partner with the informal waste sector for the systematic and safe recovery of recyclable materials from the municipal waste stream.

g. Comply with the mandatory requirements of RA 6716 for the establishment of rainwater collection and harvesting systems.

h. Initiate the transfer of toxic industries, including hazardous waste treaters, to less flood-prone areas to prevent the dispersal of harmful substances in case of flooding.

III. For Households and Individuals:

a. Set a good example for others, especially the young children, by not littering.

b. Discourage others from littering by politely explaining the consequences of their actions.

c. Avoid using plastic bags and other single-use disposable items.

d. Reduce your waste size by separating your discards at source, reusing , recycling and composting them.

e. Hold on to your rubbish such as bus tickets, food wrappers and cigarette filters until you have found a waste bin.

f. Do not throw litter out of cars. Place a litter bag in your vehicle to collect your litter until a waste bin is available.

g. Do not throw hazardous discards such as mercury-containing lamps and batteries in regular trash.

h. Do not leave your trash out by the road for collection.

i. For chewing gum consumers: “you chew it, you must bin it.”

j. For smokers: “no butts, bin it.”

k. For pet owners: “don’t give your dog a bad name, pick up after them
."

-end-