29 April 2011

Groups Praise UN Ban on Endosulfan, Urge P-Noy to Ensure Safe Disposal of Endosulfan



30 April 2011, Quezon City. Environmental health and justice groups lauded the decision of the international community to impose a global ban on endosulfan, a highly hazardous pesticide, that became “infamous” in 2008 with the sinking of M.V. Princess of the Stars off Sibuyan Island.

At the same time, the groups asked the government to waste no time in ensuring the safe disposal of some 10 metric tons of endosulfan retrieved from the ill-fated vessel, which are currently stored in a private warehouse in Bulacan.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, both members of “Bantay Endosulfan” (Endosulfan Watch), pressed the Aquino administration to immediately constitute an action team that will ensure the environmentally-sound disposal of the banned pesticide stocks.

The fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which ended Friday, agreed to include endosulfan in Annex A of the treaty for global elimination, subject to specific exemptions.

“We applaud the decision of COP5 to finally ban endosulfan as a huge triumph for health and justice, and we honor the governments and citizens behind this historic verdict, especially the pollution victims, the Pesticide Action Network and the International POPs Elimination Network," said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA.

"Now that the cat is out of the bag, we ask P-Noy to urgently deal with our own stockpile of the exceedingly toxic agrochemical,” he said.

“We have repeatedly reminded both the Arroyo and the Aquino administrations about the looming global action to ban endosulfan under the POPs treaty and the need for swift action to ship back the pesticide to its manufacturer,” recalled Calonzo.

“From day one, we have pushed for ‘return to sender’ knowing our country’s lack of appropriate facility where endosulfan can be disposed of in such as manner that it is destroyed or irreversibly transformed,” he added.

Calonzo, quoting a letter to Bantay Endosulfan dated September 11, 2008 by then DOTC UndersecretaryMaria Elena Bautista, said that “Del Monte Phils., as consignee and supposed owner of the cargo intends to ship back said chemical to its manufacturer in Israel.”

“However, inasmuch as there is an on-going court case between the Sulpicio Lines and Del Monte Phils. Concerning the shipment, the chemical shall be put to the custody of the Regional Trial Court as evidence while it is being litigated,” wrote Bautista, then concurrent head of the government-formed Task Force Princess of the Stars.

Another letter by Bautista to the group dated November 20, 2008 said “that the endosulfan is now under the custody of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (which) has been ordered to return the endosulfan to its owner Makhteshim Chemicals Ltd.”

As confirmed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau with the EcoWaste Coalition, the endosulfan stocks are stored in the Vertical Fertilizer Chemical Corp. warehouse located in 72 Camalig Road, Meycauayan, Bulacan.

Comprising Bantay Endosulfan are the Pesticide Action Network-Philippines, Cavite Green Coalition, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm and the Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment.








-end-

28 April 2011

Cavite Eco-group celebrates 10th year


28 April 2011, Cavite. The public network Cavite Green Coalition (CGC) recently celebrated a decade of advocacy and environmental work. Composed of groups from the civil society, academe and the ecumenical movement, the CGC has been successful in pushing for environmental reforms in the province, in closing toxic facilities such as incinerators and dumpsites and in providing capacity-building trainings for local government units and institutions to enable them to implement Zero Waste solutions in their respective areas.
Photo courtesy of Allan Rosarda

EcoWaste Coalition Promotes Picture Warnings to Keep Workers Safe from Chemical Exposure

A toxic watchdog has made a pitch for workers’ safety from dangerous chemicals through the promotion of internationally-recognized pictograms.

At a workshop held today on the eve of the “World Day for Safety and Health at Work,” members of the EcoWaste Coalition took time off to get acquainted with the United Nations-prescribed labelling requirements for chemicals such as chemical hazard symbols.

“Familiarizing ourselves with chemical classification and labelling standards is essential in empowering workers to know what types of chemical they handle, the dangers involved in handling such substances and the precautionary steps that they should observe,” said Aileen Lucero, chemical safety campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The pictograms, in particular, are useful tools that provide workers with visual warning on hazardous chemicals that can endanger their health,” she said.

To emphasize the importance of chemical hazard symbols, EcoWaste members displayed nine pictograms as prescribed under the GHS, or the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

The nine GHS pictograms, which visually convey the hazardous properties and hazard severity of a chemical, are for chemicals that are described as “corrosive,” “explosive,” “flammable,” “acutely toxic,” “acutely aquatic toxic,” “carcinogenic,” “ irritant,” “gas under pressure,” and “oxidizer.”

GHS National Coordinator Angelita Arcellana from the Department of Trade and Industry-Board of Investments noted the ongoing effort of the government to implement the GHS locally.

She cited the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) issued on May 25, 2009 to formally adopt and implement the GHS in the country by eight government departments, including the Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Finance, Health, Interior and Local Government, Labor and Employment, Transportation and Communications, and Trade and Industry.

GHS, according to Arcellana is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labelling of chemicals.

Citing information from the JAO, Arcellana said that GHS is a logical and comprehensive approach to:

a. Defining health, physical and environmental hazards of chemicals;
b. Creating classification processes that use available data on chemicals for comparison with the defined hazard criteria; and
c. Communicating hazard information, as well as protective measures, on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).


Reference:

Joint DTI-DENR-DA-DOF-DOH-DILG-DOLE-DOTC Administrative Order No. 01, Series of 2009:
http://www.boi.gov.ph/image/joint%20administrative%20order%20no.%201%20series%20of%202009%20-%20%20the%20adoption%20and%20implementation%20of%20ghs.pdf

25 April 2011

Government Delegation to Geneva Conference Urged to Take Firm Actions vs. Toxic Chemicals

Environmental groups today appealed to the Philippine delegation to a major intergovernmental assembly in Switzerland this week to “keep the promise”of protecting humans and the ecosystems from very dangerous chemicals.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) called for “strong and active” Philippine participation at the fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which will commence today, April 25, and last until April 29, in Geneva.

POPs are very toxic chemicals that can cause cancer and other adverse health problems. They are known as “poisons without passports,” travelling vast distances via air and water, persisting in the environment for a long time and bioaccumulating in humans and animals.

In a letter sent to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), the groups expressed hope that the Philippines will join other countries in guaranteeing that the goal of the Stockholm Convention, also known as the POPs treaty, is “faithfully kept and advanced at COP5.”

“We appeal to our delegates to keep the promise of the POPs treaty of protecting the public health and the environment from extremely harmful chemicals through their strong and active participation in the crucial meeting of parties,” said Manny Calonzo, representative of both the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA.

Leading the government delegation to COP5 are Ambassador Evan Garcia of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to UN in Geneva and Renato Cruz, Chief of the DENR-EMB Air Quality Division.

“We specifically urge our country to actively back the proposal to list endosulfan, a highly hazardous pesticide, in Annex A of the treaty for global elimination,” said Calonzo, who is also the Co-Hub of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) for Southeast Asia.

“We further hope that our delegation will take the right decision to support the recommendations on the elimination of POP-BDE from waste and recycling streams,” he added.

BDEs, or brominated diphenyl ethers, are chemical flame retardants targeted for eradication under the Stockholm Convention such as octabromodiphenyl ether, pentabromodiphenyl ether and hexabromodiphenyl ether.

A global expert panel known as the POPs Review Committee (POPRC) has recommended that BDEs be eliminated from waste streams before recycling or disposal operations as “failure to do so will inevitably result in wider human and environmental contamination and the dispersal” of this POP.

The Committee also recommended that countries in a position to do so urgently establish and apply screening techniques and separation of materials containing POP- BDE in order to stop the recycling of these materials and to safely store indicative POP-BDE-containing materials and/or articles when screening and separation techniques are not readily available.

Being a developing country with a thriving informal recycling sector, removing BDEs from products such as electronic and electrical equipment, home and office furniture, drapes and carpets from the waste and recycling streams would help in reducing occupational and environmental risks among recyclers and their communities, the groups said.

Citing the “San Antonio Statement on Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants” by prominent scientists, the groups said that “there is a lack of capacity to handle electronic waste in an environmentally-sound manner in almost all developing and transition countries, leading the release of hazardous substances that cause harm to human health and the environment.”

“Flame retardants with POP characteristics should not be permitted to be subjected to disposal operations that may lead to recovery, recycling, reclamation, direct reuse, or alternative uses of the substances,” the scientists said

“It is our hope that COP5 will take decisive actions to implement the Stockholm Convention more forcefully to make sure that the present generation as well as the succeeding ones will no longer suffer from POP exposures, injuries and diseases,” Calonzo emphasized.

-end-

Reference:
UN powerpoint presentation re COP5: http://chm.pops.int/Convention/COP/hrMeetings/COP5/tabid/1267/mctl/ViewDetails/EventModID/870/EventID/109/xmid/4351/language/en-US/Default.aspx

San Antonio Statement on Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants:
http://greensciencepolicy.org/node/269

24 April 2011

Malabon and Navotas Barangays to Implement "Plastic Bag-Free Day" Every Wednesday







Officials of five barangays in Malabon and Navotas Cities are taking action to cut plastic garbage and promote ecological values among their constituents by proclaiming every Wednesday as “Plastic Bag-Free Day.”

In joyful observance of Easter and Earth Day, officials of Barangay Hulong Duhat, Flores, Bayan-Bayanan and Dampalit of Malabon City and Barangay Tanza of Navotas City today signed a timely declaration that will ban the use of plastic carry bags in their areas every Wednesday.

The signing of the “Pledge of Commitment” was held today at the Hulong Duhat Public Market where 100 complimentary “bayong” (native basket) donated by Malabon City Mayor Canuto Oreta were also given free of charge to market goers.

Among those who took part in the combined Easter-Earth Day event were the members of the Dioecese of Caloocan Ecology Ministry, Malabon Metro Tennis Club and the EcoWaste Coalition.

Diocese of Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. lauded the initiative of the participating barangays of Malabon and Navotas Cities as he encouraged other barangays to follow suit for a cleaner and greener environment.

“We welcome this action by concerned barangay leaders to address our pervasive problem with waste. By encouraging our constituents to shift away from using plastic bags to using bayong and other reusable bags and containers, we can reduce the volume of our waste and help prevent plastic pollution in the CaMaNa area,”said Bishop Iñiguez.

CaMaNa refers to the area covered by Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas Cities.

“Plastic bags are one of the major pollutants that clog our waterways. Reducing plastic use will help ease our problem with flooding as well as prevent pollution of our water bodies. It will also cut government spending for the costly cleanup of our canals and rivers. Funds saved can be used to pay for basic services for the poor,” he said.

“I invite other barangays in the country to implement their own plastic-bag free days. This is our share for the healing of our ailing planet,” stated Bishop Iñiguez.

According to Romy Hidalgo, Head of the Ministry on Ecology of the Diocese of Kalookan and EcoWaste Coalition, the anti-plastic “Pledge of Commitment” jibes well with the ongoing effort by the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas Cities to adopt strong ordinances that will regulate the sale and use of plastic carry bags.

“The barangay-level ‘plastic-bag free day’ to combat plastic pollution only shows that local officials and residents can take action for the environment despite the absence of a national policy to prevent and reduce plastic bag waste and pollution,” he said.

Hidalgo noted that many local government units, including Muntinlupa City, have enacted bans on plastic bags notwithstanding the failure of the National Solid Waste Management Commission to draw up a robust pro-environment policy against plastic bags.

Senators Loren Legarda and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. have introduced bills regulating the production and consumption of plastic carry bags, Hidalgo further said.

-end-



23 April 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Laments "Alay-Kalat" Penitential Walk to Antipolo City

A waste and pollution watchdog has decried the unchecked littering that marred the “Alay-Lakad” penitential walk of thousands of Catholic faithful last Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, which incidentally was the 42nd Earth Day.

“We are saddened by the seemingly apathetic pilgrims who spoiled the penitential trail to Antipolo Cathedral with plastic rubbish and other garbage,” said “Basura Patroller” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“While we’re delighted to see families and friends walk together to fulfill their sacrificial vows, we could not help but moan about the uninspiring environmental indifference of some pilgrims as if Mother Earth does not matter,” he said.

“Littering was so extensive even though it is banned by R.A. 9003 and related local environmental laws,” he added.

The long stretch of Ortigas Avenue Extension, which traverses Pasig City, Cainta and Taytay Rizal and Antipolo City, was littered with assorted trash such as clear plastic bags for drinking water and “palamig” (coolers), plastic straws, cups and bottles, chips wrappers, paper scraps, cigarette butts and food leftovers, observed the EcoWaste Coalition.

The Antipolo Cathedral, home to the miraculous icon, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, was “carpeted” with scattered newspapers used by pilgrims that kept church caretakers very busy on Earth Day.

According to a parish personnel interviewed by the EcoWaste Coalition on Friday morning, the 15 staff assigned to clean up the church compound were likely to consume the 150 big garbage bags set aside for the massive occasion.

Outside the church, yellow-clad “Clean and Green” personnel of the Antipolo City government swept up the roads leading to the Cathedral as small trucks hauled the garbage to a disposal site.

Also, enterprising child and adult wastepickers were seen painstakingly retrieving recyclables left behind by the pilgrims.

The garbage collected from the church and the streets of Antipolo would then be dumped at the city’s waste disposal facility located in Tanza I, Barangay San Jose, while the recyclables would be sold to junk shops.

“While disappointed with what we saw, we remain optimistic that future pilgrimages to Antipolo will treat Mother Earth more kindly. Next time, please abide by the law and don’t litter,” reiterated the EcoWaste Coalition.

R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, lists littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in public places as prohibited acts under the law’s penal provision.

Antipolo City, which produces 139 tons of trash daily, has enacted Ordinance 2008-287, also known as the “Basura Code,” which prohibits littering, while Ordinance 2009-370, bans plastic bags and polystyrene containers.

For next year’s “Alay-Lakad,” the EcoWaste Coalition has proposed that local government units (LGUs) deploy “litter-busters” all throughout Ortigas Avenue Extension and other major roads leading to Antipolo Cathedral to apprehend environmental offenders, “only then will litterbugs start to break the dirty habit.”

Some of the photos taken by the EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrol can be viewed at www.ecowastecoalition.org

-end-

22 April 2011

"Alay-Lakad" turned "Alay-Kalat": Bad for the Environment




























Photos taken on 22 April 2011, Good Friday, which is also the Earth Day, at Pasig City, Cainta and Taytay, Rizal and Antipolo City (Manny Calonzo).

20 April 2011

Pakiusap sa mga Maglalakad Patungong Antipolo: Huwag Pong Magkalat

20 Abril 2011, Lunsod ng Quezon. Isang panawagang pangkalikasan ang ipinapaabot ng EcoWaste Coalition, isang environmental watchdog, sa libu-libong kabataang lalahok bukas, Huwebes Santo, sa taunang “Alay-Lakad” papuntang Antipolo City.

“Kami po ay umaapila sa mga kabataang maglalakad at mamamanata sa Antipolo ngayong Semana Santa na panatilihin ang kalinisan ng ating kapaligiran, laluna ang mga daan at simbahang daraanan,” pakiusap ni Roy Alvarez, Pangulo ng EcoWaste Coalition.


“Huwag naman po sanang maging ‘Alay-Kalat’ ang ‘Alay-Lakad’ na hindi lamang pangit sa paningin kundi tahasang paglapastangan rin kay Inang Kalikasan,” pahayag niya.


“Iwasan po natin ang pagkakalat ng anumang panapon tulad ng mga balat ng kendi, balutan ng tsitsirya, plastic bag, upos ng sigarilyo at iba pa upang ang ating panata ay maging kalugod-lugod sa Panginoong Maylikha,” dagdag ni Alvarez, isang batikang aktor na kilalang luntiang aktibista rin.


Inilabas ng EcoWaste Coalition ang kanilang paalala para sa walang basurang pamamanata upang himukin ang mga kabataan na isagawa ang kanilang paglalakad na walang perwisyong idudulot sa kapaligiran.


Tuwing Huwebes Santo, libu-libong mga kabataan mula sa iba’t ibang panig ng Metro Manila at mga karatig na lugar ang pangkat-pangkat na naglalakad patungong Antipolo na may bansag na “Pilgrimage City.”


Sa mahabang paglalakad ay madaraanan nila ang maraming simbahan na kanilang isa-isang dadalawin para doon ay mag-alay ng mga taimtin na panalangin. Magwawakas ang pamamanata sa simbahan ng “Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage” sa kabayanan ng Antipolo na kung saan ay marami ang doon na nagpapalipas ng gabi.


“Sa kahanga-hangang pagsasakripisyo ay maipamalas rin sana ninyo sa madla at sa Poong Maykapal ang sinserong pagmamalasakit kay Inang Kalikasan at ang paghahangad sa mapabuti ang kanyang kalagayan,” wika ni Alvarez.


Umaasa ang EcoWaste Coalition na hindi mag-iiwan ng mga kalat ang mga magsisilahok sa “Alay-Lakad” gaya noong mga nakaraang taon na kung saan ay sangkaterbang kalat ang naiwan ng mga kalahok, laluna sa mga pangunahing daan tulad ng Ortigas Avenue Extension, Marcos Highway at Sumulong Highway.


Para sa makaiwas sa pagkakalat, ipinapayo ng EcoWaste Coalition ang mga sumusunod:
1. Pansamantalang ilagay sa bulsa o bag ang anumang panapon at huwag ikalat sa daan;


2. Iwasan ang paninigarilyo upang walang upos na itatapon at makaiwas sa paglikha ng maruming usok;


3. Magbaon ng sariling tubig sa “reusable container” upang makaiwas sa pagbili ng “bottled water” o “palamig”na nakalagay sa “plastic cup” o “plastic bag;” at


4. Magdala ng “reusable bag” para paglagyan ng mga bibilhing panalubong sa mga mahal sa buhay tulad ng suman, kalamay, kasoy at iba pa.

19 April 2011

Mercury Vapors Detected in Lamp Waste Recycling Sites




Quezon City. Groups concerned with occupational and environmental health today pressed the government and the industry to introduce a system for the environmentally-sound management of mercury-containing lamp waste for households and small businesses and institutional users.

The groups renewed their appeal for action after the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol detected disturbing levels of mercury vapor in lamp waste recycling sections of the Pier 18 Garbage Transfer Station in Tondo, Manila.

The toxic investigation was held in double observance of the Earth Day on April 22 and the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28.

Comprising the investigative team were the representatives of Ban Toxics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm and the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat.

“The informal recycling of CFLs is done in the most archaic way where spent lamps are first collected and stored in heaps or kept in old rice sacks and then individually smashed with a hammer to retrieve the recyclable parts,” said Thony Dizon, chemical safety project coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We need to emphasize that it is not only the lamp waste recyclers who bear the brunt of toxic pollution. The mercury vapor escapes as the glass tubing is broken and travels around, exposing the workers, their children and the environment to this toxic metal,” he added.

“The data we collected should serve as a warning signal of toxic danger in our midst. Our investigation, we hope, would prompt government and business leaders into enforcing mercury pollution prevention measures such as a practical system for collecting lamp waste and ensuring their safe management,” he said.

Using a hand-held instrument called “Jerome J-405,” an ambient air analyzer, the toxic patrollers today visited and obtained mercury vapor data from places where the breaking of mercury-containing compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs is taking place.

During the investigation, 14 used CFLs of different brands and wattages were tested in two different CFL breaking sites. One product recorded an excessively high and dangerous mercury vapor at 502.40 micrograms per cubic meter (mcg/m3). The average reading for the 14 tested products was 117.20 mcg/m3.

To show the gravity of the mercury pollution documented, the groups cited the “permissible exposure limit” for mercury vapor as set by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is 0.1 milligram per cubic meter (or 100 mcg/m3) of air, warning that “a worker’s exposure to mercury vapour shall at no time exceed this ceiling level.”

A case study prepared by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives concluded that “the woeful lack of a deliberate system for collecting and managing CFLs after their useful lives means that spent mercury-containing lamps are simply thrown into regular trash, which is not only irresponsible, but also unlawful” as these are classified as “special waste” requiring separate handling and treatment.

A focus group discussion held as part of the study shows that 80% of the respondents are not aware of the various routes of mercury exposure, 70% work as waste pickers seven times a week, working for an average of 10.5 hours per day, 90% break CFL tubes without nose covering, 80% recycle CFLs wearing no protective clothing, and 60% break lamp waste with bare hands.

Improper lamp waste disposal adds mercury into the waste stream and exposes waste workers to mercury from lamps broken during the process of collection, transportation, dumping and recycling in unregulated conditions, the case study revealed.

According to the case study, spent CFLs not reclaimed by enterprising recyclers such as dumpsite and itinerant waste pickers as well as “paleros” (garbage crew of trucks collecting trash) would normally end up being dumped in dumpsites or landfills, which could lead to the discharge of elemental mercury that can easily contaminate the water supply and bioaccumulate in the food chain as organic mercury.

Data from the Philippine Efficient Lighting Market Transformation Project (PELMATP) show that 88% of households, 77 % of commercial establishments, 33% of hospitals, 9% of offices and .83% of schools surveyed disposed of their mercury-containing lamp waste as domestic waste.

The same data indicate that 67% of mercury-containing lamp waste from hospitals are sold to junk shops, while 15% from schools, 9% from offices, 3% from commercial establishments, and 1% from households do the same.

A government-published guidebook on “Mercury-Containing Lamp Waste Management” warns that “mercury and its compounds are highly toxic especially to the developing nervous system, which is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Exposure to high levels of mercury can cause permanent brain damage, central nervous system disorders, memory loss, heart disease, kidney failure, liver damage, vision loss, sensation loss, and tremors.”

-end-

Reference:

Guidebook on the Management of Mercury-Containing Lamp Wastes:

http://www.doe.gov.ph/pelmatp/LWM%20Guidebook_final.pdf


Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for Mercury Vapor:

http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthguidelines/mercuryvapor/recognition.html

18 April 2011

Climate Action and Justice Groups Vow to Block "Waste-to-Energy" Incinerators

Quezon City. Climate action and justice groups vowed to throw out incinerator schemes masquerading as "renewable energy" sources as these are undermining the country's ban on waste incineration, while causing toxic pollution and reduced employment in the recycling sector.

In a campaign launch held yesterday (April 17), the groups, led by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), lamented the influx of “waste-to-energy” or WTE schemes, which cover a broad range of technologies that directly generate energy from burning waste.

Other campaign participants include the Ang Nars, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Cavite Green Coalition, Focus on the Global South, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Mother Earth Foundation, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan and Zero Waste Philippines.

WTE incineration schemes include a wide range of burn technologies, including gasification, plasma, pyrolysis and mass burn incinerators, some of which, according to the groups, have already secured clearances and permits to operate.

"It is anomalous that incinerator pushers are using the climate issue as an additional platform to peddle their polluting technologies. Worse, our government agencies and officials are falling for this ruse at great expense to the health of communities and the environment," said Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, GAIA.

"The Philippines does not need incinerators as there are safer and more practical waste management options available that can best serve the goals of the country in mitigating climate change, in protecting the environment, and in generating green jobs and enterprises," said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

According to the book "False Solutions to Climate Change," the incineration industry has rebranded itself and is selling new types of expensive incinerators with fancy names, which often create more greenhouse gases and toxic byproducts than traditional incinerators.

From a climate standpoint, waste prevention is the most practial carbon emissions reduction scheme complemented by reusing, recycling and composting, the groups said, while landfilling and incinerating waste are deemed the worse options.

From the perspective of resource conservation, phasing out residual waste (the waste that remains after reusing, recycling or composting) is the best means to ensure all discards are reusable, recyclable or compostable, the groups stated.

Waste separation, reusing, recycling and composting,, the groups pointed out, generate far more jobs and safer working conditions than landfilling and incinerating waste.

The groups also scored using landfill gas-to-energy projects to justify and perpetuate the practice of mixed waste landfilling to supposedly curb the production of methane, a greenhouse gas 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

Keeping compostable organics out of landfills helps avoid methane releases far more successfully than burning landfill gas for energy, the groups asserted.

In lieu of WTE, the groups are calling for investments in waste prevention and reduction, source separation, extended producer responsibility, informal recycling sector and other initiatives that will lead to a progressive reduction of the volume and toxicity of waste sent for disposal.

The Clean Air Act of 1999 bans the incineration of municipal, biomedical and hazardous wastes, which process emits toxic and poisonous fumes, while the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 requires the adoption of best environmental practices in ecological waste management excluding incineration.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.risingtidenorthamerica.org/wordpress/2010/07/06/hoodwinked-in-the-hothouse-false-solutions-to-climate-change-available-now/

14 April 2011

Earth Day Appeal: "Put to Death” Acts that Harm Mother Earth

An environmental watchdog has urged Christian Filipinos to quietly mark the upcoming Earth Day on April 22 with a commitment to “put to death” destructive practices not only on Good Friday, but all throughout the year.

“We need not hold any bazaar, concert, symposium, protest or parade to commemorate the Earth Day, which falls on a Good Friday,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“What is needed is a quiet personal reflection about the state of Mother Earth’s health and an earnest commitment to ‘put to death’ practices that are contributing to her ailment, destruction and demise,” he pointed out.

“Practices that cause environmental degradation are acts that both disrespect and diminish the integrity of God’s creation,” he added.

Being a day of fasting, prayer, contemplation and atonement, the upcoming Good Friday offers a rare opportunity to draw attention to the frequent “crucifixion” of Mother Earth that is happening all over the country 24/7, Alvarez emphasized.

“We ‘crucify’ Mother Earth every time we recklessly exploit, consume and terminate the natural gifts of the planet without any thought about the needs of current and future generations,” he explained.

“We ‘crucify’ her whenever we misuse the planet’s finite resources and when we unashamedly defile and contaminate the ecosystems with garbage and toxic residues,” he added.

Some of the often-ignored “bad” practices that harm Mother Earth and that caring Filipinos should refrain from doing include:

-ignoring the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) in our daily lives and thus adding to the garbage woes;

- thoughtlessly using and disposing plastic bags that choke rivers and the marine environment;

- dumping cigarette butts on sidewalks and other spots that do not only worsen street and marine litter, but also cause chemical contaminants in the filter to disperse;.

- dropping litter anywhere even in the most sacred religious occasions;

- open burning trash that yields toxic byproducts of combustion such as dioxin, particulate matter and other emissions;

- insensitively driving smoke-belching vehicles that emit health-damaging carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other pollutants.

"We invite everyone to acknowledge the myriad ordeals being faced daily by Mother Earth because of our uncaring practices. We need to put such practices to death in order to attain new beginnings for our nation and planet as Christ has shown the way to resurrection through his agony and death,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

-end-



Visiting Indian NGO leader urges PH to back global ban on endosulfan


A visiting advocate from India against the use of hazardous pesticides in agriculture has requested the government of the Philippines to vigorously support a looming global ban on endosulfan.

Jayakumar Chelaton of Thanal, an environmental health organization, based out in the state of Kerala in southwestern India, specifically urged the authorities to support the official listing of endosulfan in Annex A of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) for elimination with no specific exemptions.

Chelaton, who is also a recognized Zero Waste champion in the global south, is in Manila at the invitation of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) to attend a regional campaign strategy meeting to combat waste incineration. “I appeal to President Aquino and other officials to actively support the banning of endosulfan in the Philippines and across the globe to bring to a just end the decades of untold human affliction and irreparable ecological harm caused by endosulfan,” he said.

Chelaton cited the tragic experience of villages in the Kasaragod district, Kerala who were subjected to continuous exposure to endosulfan, which was aerially sprayed on cashew plantations three times every year for 25 years, contaminating human bodies and the surrounding ecosystems. Some 4,300 people out of the over 9,000 endosulfan poisoning victims that have been identified in Kasaragod are bedridden and 526 victims are recognized as having died due to endosulfan poisoning, Chelaton lamented. A fact sheet published by Thanal and the Pesticide Working Group of the International POPs Elimination Network cited reproductive health problems, congenital birth defects, neurological and mental diseases, loss of immunity and cancers as some of the health problems seen among the villagers, which were directly linked to endosulfan exposure.


Over 200 diseases have been associated with endosulfan poisoning and the Kerala government is spending one billion Indian rupees (over US$22 million) to start the remediation and relief in 2011 alone and is expected to spend 200 million rupees (almost US$4.5 million) annually to continue the relief work.

In November 2010, the Pollution Control Board of the Kerala government prohibited the use of endosulfan throughout the state, which has a population of over 30 million people.

Last Monday, over 150 groups and individuals led by the EcoWaste Coalition, GAIA and the Pesticide Action Network-Philippines petitioned the government through the Department of Agriculture and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority to impose a permanent ban on endosulfan under the Stockholm Convention.

The Stockholm Conventin is a legally binding global agreement that the Senate of the Philippines ratified in 2004 to protect human health and the environment from very dangerous chemicals known as POPs, which are toxic to both human beings and wildlife.

Also known as the POPs treaty, the agreement requires parties to take action to eradicate the production of POPs, reduce unintentional sources, and safely manage and clean up remaining stockpiles and wastes.

The fifth Conference of Parties of the Stockholm Convention will take place on April 25 to 29 in Geneva, Switzerland with Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna and Renato Cruz of the Environmental Management Bureau representing the Philippines.

-end-

Thanal website:
http://www.thanal.co.in/

11 April 2011

Civil Society Petition Letter for National and Global Ban on Endosulfan

11 April 2011

Hon. Proceso J. Alcala
Secretary, Department of Agriculture

Hon. Augusto C. Canlas
Director, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority

CC:
Hon. Ramon J. P. Paje
Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Hon. Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna
Director, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau
Philippine Delegate, COP5, Stockholm Convention on POPs
Mr. Renato Cruz
Chief, Environmental Quality Division, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau
Philippine Delegate, COP5, Stockholm Convention on POPs
Mrs. Angelita Brabante
Chief, Chemicals Management Section, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau

Dear Secretary Alcala and Director Canlas,

URGENT APPEAL TO BAN ENDOSULFAN

We are writing with urgency to appeal to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) to impose a national ban on endosulfan and to back a global ban of this highly hazardous organochlorine pesticide under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) of which the Republic of the Philippines is a party.

The national ban on endosulfan will bolster the “temporary ban” on its importation, distribution and use under Memorandum Circular 2009-02 issued by then Environment Secretary Jose L. Atienza “to protect the public health from any undesirable risks (and) hazards on the use of endosulfan.”

The global ban will be in concurrence with the recommendation made by the POPs Review Committee (POPRC) of the Stockholm Convention in October 2010 to add endosulfan, after a rigorous process for evaluating the said chemical, to Annex A of the treaty as a new POP for worldwide elimination.

The FPA, of which you are the Chair of the Board of Directors, is empowered by P.D. 1144 “to restrict or ban the use of any pesticide.. upon evidence that the pesticide is an imminent hazard, has caused, or is causing widespread serious damage to crops, fish or livestock, or to public health and environment.”

Copious assessments of the human health and ecological risks of endosulfan by governments, academics and citizens’ groups, including testimonies from pollution victims, have confirmed the toxic, bio-accumulative and persistent characteristics of endosulfan, providing the agency with a solid basis to act with resolve.

We therefore urge your office to please expedite a process that will lead to the adoption of the above two-fold policy in time for the upcoming fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the Stockholm Convention in Geneva, Switzerland on April 25-29, 2011.

The decision to ban endosulfan in the Philippines should be easy, non-contentious and defensible as the country has no registered use at all for endosulfan following the decision by Del Monte and Dole pineapple companies not to renew their license to import and use the highly toxic pesticide since 2008. The companies have shifted to alternative pesticides in the aftermath of the deadly M.V. Princess of the Stars maritime tragedy where some 10 metric tons of endosulfan also went down with the ill-fated passenger ship.

For your information, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2010 announced its action to terminate all uses of endosulfan because it “poses unacceptable risks to agricultural workers and wildlife, and can persist in the environment.” Also, over 80 governments, including the state governments of Kerala and Karnataka in India, the 27-country European Union and the governments of Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea and Sri Lanka, have taken decisive steps to protect human health and the environment by phasing out and banning endosulfan.

We hope that through your wise and able leadership the Philippines will rise to this global public health and environmental challenge and join the community of nations towards "eliminating endosulfan from the face of the earth.”

Please send in your response through the EcoWaste Coalition at Unit 329, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1101 Quezon City (phone/fax: 4411846).

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,


Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition

Manny C. Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Dr. Romy Quijano, President, Pesticide Action Network-Philippines


Also signed by:

Fr. Max Abalos, Action for Nurturing Children and Environment
Che-Anne Matriz, Akbayan Party – Youth
Josua Mata, Alliance of Progressive Labor
Angelina Ludivice Katoh, Alternative Center for Organizational Reforms and Development, Zamboanga City
Atty. Marlon Manuel, Alternative Law Groups
Jaybee Garganera, Alyansa Tigil Mina
Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Ang Nars
Jeanna Panganiban-Mejia, Angkan ng Mandirigma
Velvet Roxas, Arugaan
Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics
Batong Sandigan Development Foundation, Cavite
Barangay Yakal Materials Recovery Facility, Silang, Cavite, Cavite
Danilo Remoroza, Building Alternative Rural Resource Institution and Organizing Services, Gen. Santos City
Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao
Buklod Tao –Youth
Catechesis Ministry of St. Joseph Parish, Cavite
Catholic Women’s League, Nueva Ecija
Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
Nicky Perlas, Center for Alternative Development Initiatives
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Center for Leadership and Governance, University of Makati
Children's Helper Project, Cavite
Elsie Brandes-De Veyra, Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Rene Pineda, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Daisy A. Langenegger, Citizen Volunteer for the Environment
Jun Salaveria, Cycling Advocates
Ecology Ministry of Candelaria Parish, Cavite
Damas de la Virgen Divina Pastora, Nueva Ecija
Ecology Ministry of Resurrection Parish, Cavite
Ecology Ministry of St. Joseph Parish, Cavite
Antonio Claparols, Ecological Society of the Philippines
Rommel Arriola, FCTC Alliance Philippines
Dr. Maricar Limpin, Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control Alliance – Philippines
Milo Tanchuling, Freedom from Debt Coalition
Tito Villagonzalo, Jr., Freedom from Debt Coalition - Davao
Ines M. Basaen, Global Quality Education Providers
Go Organic Davao City (GoDC)
Tina Delima, Go Organic Mindanao (GOM)
Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Patria Gwen M.L. Borcena, Greenresearch
Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Merci Ferrer, Health Care Without Harm
Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, Health Futures Foundation, Inc.
Engr. Fernando Salise, Human Ecological and Economic Development Foundation, Agusan del Sur
Ines M. Basaen, Informatics International College - Diliman Campus
Egad Ligon, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services, Inc.
Nariman Ambolodto, Institute for Strategic Initiatives, ARMM
Eileen Sison, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives
Jo Quianzon, Institute of Primary Health Care
Lia Jasmin M. Esquillo, Interface Development Interventions Inc.
Philip Beda, Iranun Development Council (IDC), Maguindanao
Isaiahville Home Owners Association, Cavite
Lidy Nacpil, Jubilee South - Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development
Sr. Angie Villanueva RC, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission – AMRSP
Ray Abanil, Kaisampalad, Inc.
Mitzi Chan, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya
Betty T. Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc.
Koro ni San Jose, Cavite
Catalina Jocson, Krusada sa Kalikasan
George Dadivas, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation
Lay Minister of the Word St Joseph, Cavite
Likhang Kalikasan, Cavite
Junalyn Gayak-Sumlay, Magungaya Center for PALMA, North Cotabato
Rosanna Palma, Malayang Tining ng Kababaihan sa Komunidad
Vhinz Saladino, Malikhaing Landas na Magpapaybong sa Sining at Kultura, Cavite
Movement for the Advancement of Sustainable Agriculture - Philippines, Inc.
Albert Gavino, MASKARA-Green Stage Filipinas
Alla Tura, Makabayan para sa Bata
Tessa Oliva, Miriam P.E.A.C.E.
Catherine Y. Untalan, Miss Earth Foundation
Froilan Grate, Mother Earth Foundation
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation
Ninian S. Sumadia, Movement for the Advancement of Student Power
Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Maguyam – Cavite
Louie Lizano, Nagkakaisang Mananambakan ng Dumpsite Area
Honey Beso, National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace
Romeo Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
Nueva Ecija Women’s League Coalition
Louise Lampon, PAKISAMA-Mindanao
Edwin Mayormita, Pagdumala Inc., Davao City
Andres C. Tionko, Panay Rural Development Center, Inc.
Roy Cabonegro, Partido Kalikasan
Victoria Segovia, Partnership for Clean Air
Arturo Nuera, People’s Alternative Study Center for Research and Education in Social Development, Inc.
Anna Cabrera, Philippine Animal Welfare Society
Andres C. Tionko, Philippine Network of Rural Development Institutes, Inc (PhilNet-RDI)
Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Philippine Earth Justice Center
Obet Verzola, Philippine Greens
Dr. Helen Mendoza, Philippine Network on Climate Change
Isagani Serrano, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
Victor Parra Jr., People's Alternative Development Center, Davao Oriental
Donel Fernandez, People's Reform Advocates thru Participatory Good Governance, Iligan City
Ben Galindo, Sagip Pasig Movement
Christine Ann Malo, PNU-SUMSOC
Joyet Castor, Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay Cooperative
Marie Marciano, Sanib-Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan
San Lorenzo Ruiz Association, Cavite
Bro. Martin Francisco, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc.
Kokoy Gan, Samahang Pagkakaisa ng Tindera sa Talipapa
John Lanuza, Sanlakas-Youth Cebu
Pangging Santos, Sarilaya (Kasarian-Kalayaan)
Fr. Pete Montallana, OFM, Save Sierra Madre Network
Tom Villarin, Siad Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development
Jean Yasol, SEARice
Rodne Galicha, Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment
Bang Palacio, Sining Yapak
Sr. Susan Esmile, SFIC-CFS JPIC
Jonathan Cortez, Solidarity for Peace, Empowerment and Equity-led Development, Cotabato City
Shoreline Kabalikat sa Kinabukasan, Inc., Cavite
Fr. Glenn Melo, Sustainable Agriculture Apostolate-Diocese of Tandag, Surigao del Sur
Rolando P. Lacanaria, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines-Visayas
Ternatenos Against Landfill Association, Cavite
Maria F. Delos Santos, Vicariate of Our Lady of Grace, Diocese of Caloocan
Rolly Ilacad, Vicariate of San Bartolome, Diocese of Caloocan
Ruby Panti, Vicariate of Sacred Heart, Diocese of Caloocan
Ester Daliada, Vicariate of San Roque, Diocese of Caloocan
June Barloso, Vicariate of San Jose, Diocese of Caloocan
Fr. Archie Casey SX, Xaverian Missionaries
Young Men Christian Association
Ofelia Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines
Dr. Bessie Antonio
Harvey B. Balibay
Marose Borromeo
Ruben B. Corpuz
Floro Elloso
Ayesa Enrile
Rudy Galang
Sandra Itchon
Vin Lava
Fr. Harvey Legarse, SCF
Mayor Ronnel Lim, Gubat, Sorsogon
Malou Maniquis
Atty. Armand H. Mejia
Maria Dolores Mendoza
Dr. Dea Millora
Dr. Metodio Palaypay
Maria Teresa D. Pascual
Jose Aaron Pedrosa, Jr.
Toti Prospero
Antonia Roxas
Elma Solis-Salamat
Imee J. Siador
Peging Sur
Paul Tobiason
Antonio E. Tambuli
Sr. Maria Aida Velasquez, OSB

Renato Banas, Negros Organic Agricultural Movement

Ruperto Aleroza, Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan

Isagane Fernandez, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement – Negros Occidental

Edwin Balajadia, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement – Negros Occidental

Joel Alapar, People’s Agricultural Plan for the 21st Century

Over 135 Groups Ask Sec. Alcala to Ban Highly Toxic Pesticide



Over 135 public interest groups today asked the government to impose a permanent ban on endosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, and to actively back a global move to have it eliminated for good to protect the public health and the environment.

Through a petition letter, the groups, led by the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN), urged tough action against the said pesticide ahead of a crucial intergovernmental meeting that is expected to seal the fate of endosulfan.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) will meet on April 25-29 in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss matters related to the implementation of the treaty, including the recommendation by a panel of scientific experts to ban endosulfan.

The UN POPs Review Committee (POPRC) last year recommended to add endosulfan, after a rigorous process for evaluating the said chemical, to Annex A of the treaty as a new POP for worldwide elimination.

The "AlerToxic Patrol" volunteers of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats) brought the petition letter to the Department of Agriculture (DA) where a picket was also held.

The petitioners, which include a broad set of environmental health, climate justice and sustainable development advocates, asked Secretary Proceso Alcala to be in step with nations who will soon make a historic decision of adding endosulfan to the POPs treaty, which will eventually lead to its elimination from global use.

Among the signatories were the “greenest” 2010 presidential candidate Nicky Perlas, former health chief Dr. Jimmy Galvez Tan, Mindanao statesman Sen. Nene Pimentel, actor and playwright Roy Alvarez, toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio, pulmonologist Dr. Maricar Limpin, human rights lawyer Marlon Manuel, labor leader Josua Mata, climate campaigner Dr. Helen Mendoza, Sierra Madre advocate Fr. Pete Montallana, zero waste pioneer Dr. Met Palaypay, educator Dr. Leah Paquiz, Philippine Greens convenor Obet Verzola, and beauty queen Cathy Untalan.

“It is imperative for the Philippine delegation to bring to the meeting a strong policy position banning endosulfan, which has been linked to neurological disorders, mental retardations, congenital physical deformities, and deaths among community farmers and residents in developing countries,” said toxicologist Dr. Romy Quijano, President of PAN-Philippines.

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the health and environmental hazards caused by endosulfan. It's time for our country and the world to terminate this acutely toxic chemical pesticide," said Manny Calonzo, representative of both GAIA and the EcoWaste Coalition.

Numerous assessments of the human health and ecological risks of endosulfan by governments, academics and citizens’ groups, including testimonies from pollution victims, have confirmed the toxic, bio-accumulative and persistent characteristics of endosulfan, the groups said.

A formal ban on endosulfan, the groups insisted, will bolster the “temporary ban” on the importation, distribution and use of endosulfan under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Memorandum Circular 2009-02 “to protect the public health from any undesirable risks (and) hazards on the use of endosulfan.”

The groups told Secretary Alcala that the decision to ban endosulfan should be “easy, non-contentious and defensible” as the Philippines has no registered use anymore for endosulfan.

Del Monte and Dole pineapple companies, the only two entities previously permitted to import and use endosulfan, have already switched to alternative pesticides following the deadly M.V. Princess of the Stars maritime tragedy in 2008 where some 10 metric tons of endosulfan also went down with the ill-fated passenger ship.

The groups reminded Secretary Alcala that Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), of which he is the Chair of the Board of Directors, is empowered under P.D. 1144 “to restrict or ban the use of any pesticide... upon evidence that the pesticide is an imminent hazard, has caused, or is causing widespread serious damage to crops, fish or livestock, or to public health and environment.”

Over 80 governments, including the state governments of Kerala and Karnataka in India, the 27-country European Union and the governments of Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea and Sri Lanka, have taken decisive steps to protect human health and the environment by phasing out and banning endosulfan.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2010 has announced its action to terminate all uses of endosulfan because it “poses unacceptable risks to agricultural workers and wildlife, and can persist in the environment.”

-end-

Please visit www.ecowastecoalition.org to view the petition letter and list of signatories. Thanks!

10 April 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for "Green" Holy Week, "Good Earth Day" on Good Friday

Quezon City. An environmental network promoting Zero Waste and sustainable living is calling for a “green” Holy Week as Christian Filipinos prepare to mark the last week of Lent from April 17 to 24.

“We are inviting the faithful to celebrate the Holy Week with a pledge to cut back on garbage and pollution as part of our spiritual works of penance, charity and reconciliation,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Abstaining from wasteful consumption during the holidays and beyond augurs well for both Mother Earth and the future of our climate change-threatened nation,” he pointed out.

“The fact that Earth Day this year falls on Good Friday is indeed good for the environment as this should mean less cars on the streets, less energy use in malls, less noise, less non-essential consumption and less garbage. Let Good Friday be a Good Earth Day as well,” he added.

Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. has concurred with the group's call for a green Holy Week as it complements the theme of this year’s “Alay Kapwa” (a lenten evangelization-action program of the Catholic Church): “Our Neighbor and Environment, Our Responsibility.”

“A green Holy Week is a timely call in response to the wastefulness and greed that is blatantly trashing our fragile environment. I encourage everyone to plan for an earth-friendly and spiritually-nourishing week,” the Bishop of Kalookan said.

“As stewards of God’s Creation, it is our shared responsibility to respect and preserve Mother Earth and protect her ability to support and perpetuate life,” he added.

“Let our Christian faith radiates in the way we relate and nurture the environment,” stated Bishop Iñiguez, who also heads the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Permanent Committee on Public Affairs.

To inspire and guide all citizens in observing the Holy Week with the planet in mind, the EcoWaste Coalition has released 12 down-to-earth suggestions for a greener observance of the death and resurrection of Christ the Redeemer.

1. No littering please. Ensure that nothing is wasted nor littered as you accomplish your vows to the Most High. Youth pilgrims, for instance, who will trek to Antipolo City on Maundy Thursday should keep Marcos Highway, Sumulong Highway and Ortigas Avenue Extension litter-free. Please pick up litter along the “Alay-Lakad” trail and never leave trash behind. Remember: “Do not defile the land in which you live and in the midst of which I dwell.” (Numbers 35: 34)

2. Shun disposables. Avoid single-use items such as plastic bags, water bottles and beverage cups as you perform your Lenten plans Be guided by this timely reminder from our bishops: “eliminate wasteful consumption” (CBCP Statement “Upholding the Sanctity of Life,” November 2008).

3. Power down. Drive less to cut fossil fuel use and slash greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming and climate change. Walk, cycle or take the public transportation. For planned “Visita Iglesia” (church visitations), consider doing your pilgrimage online at http://visitaiglesia.net

4. Call off expensive, non-essential long distance trips and consider giving the money saved to the “Alay-Kapwa” program (http://caritasmanila.org.ph/alay-kapwa) or to your favorite charitable causes.

5. If you are planning a family or “barkada” (circle of friends) outing to the mountain, lake or the sea, please abide by the eco-creed "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time."

6. Say no to plastic carry bags. Cut your consumption of wasteful plastic bags by bringing your own “bayong” or reusable shopping bags.

7. Save trees. Bring your own handkerchief or towel to limit the use of disposable tissue while you battle the heat during the “Via Crucis” (stations of the cross), penitential services and liturgical celebrations.

8. Go for tobacco-free and alcohol-free “Pabasa” (chant reading of the Passion of Christ). Keep the “pabasa” a healthy neighborhood spiritual affair by making the “kubol” (makeshift structure) and its immediate vicinity a “no smoking, no drinking” zone.

9. Say no to “Styro.” Choose reusable over disposable cups, plates and cutlery for meals and drinks served to "pabasa" readers; offer native “kakanin” or vegetarian meals served with plain water, throat-soothing "salabat" (ginger tea), "buko" juice, a natural isotonic beverage, or melon "palamig" (coolers).

10. Avoid overdoing the "carrozas" (floats) for the Good Friday “Santo Entierro” (holy burial) procession, enhancing them only with biodegradable stuff like sampaguita and other natural flowers and plants.

11. Go for simple, eco-friendly Easter "Salubong" sans firecrackers and confetti to commemorate the heavenly encounter between the risen Christ and “Mater Dolorosa” (sorrowing mother). Let us learn from the "Salubong" firecracker accident that injured churchgoers in Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Sampaloc, Manila last year. Paper and plastic confetti can be substituted with petals and leaves, which can be composted after the event.

12. If you are planning to do Easter egg hunt, only use natural ingredients or dyes to color the eggs. Promote a healthy and balanced diet by not giving kids junk food treats.

-end-