31 August 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Cosmetics Giant's Phase Out Plan for Toxic Chemicals

A toxics watchdog campaigning for consumer access to information on chemicals in products and for safer consumer goods has lauded a historic move by a transnational company to remove certain chemicals of concern in their product line.

The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the announcement made by Johnson & Johnson, a global market leader, to reformulate its cosmetics and personal care products for babies and adults by the end of 2015 that will eventually replace certain ingredients considered as carcinogens and endocrine disruptors with safer alternatives.

“Johnson & Johnson's phase out plan for sinister chemicals will be beneficial for human and environmental health that should be emulated by both local and foreign cosmetics companies, perhaps at an even faster pace,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We hope that our policy makers will see Johnson & Johnson’s action as an opportunity to establish stringent regulations that will phase out dangerous chemicals in cosmetics, oblige the use of non-toxic substances, and require the full disclosure of ingredients,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged manufacturers, as part of their corporate social responsiblity, to find ways to minimize the environmental impact of their packaging, including a retrieval or take back program for spent packets and sachets that often become residual garbage, filling up dumpsites, blocking waterways, causing flash floods and polluting the marine ecosystems such as the Manila Bay.

Johnson & Johnson is best known for a number of cosmetics and personal hygiene products, including Aveeno, Clean and Clear, Neutrogena, and a wide range of Johnson’s products such as baby shampoo, bubble bath, bar soap, head to toe wash, lotion, oil, powder and wipes, to name a few.

Johnson & Johnson’s shift to safer chemical ingredients was prompted by the sustained advocacy by the US Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and its allies,“citing the health of consumers, including children, as well as the health of the employees who make the products were at risk from exposure to the known toxins.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics brings together over 175 non-profit groups in US to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.

As culled by the EcoWaste Coalition from the Johnson & Johnson's ingredient policies as stated in its website, the company will:

1. Reduce traces of 1,4 dioxane to 1 to 4 parts per million (ppm) in baby products and to below 10 ppm in adult products;

2. Phase out formaldehyde-releasers from baby and adult products;

3. Phase out the use of all parabens from baby care products, and limit parabens in adult products to methyl-, ethyl- and propyl-;

4. Phase out triclosan in adult products (infant or baby products no longer contain triclosan);

5. Phase out Diethyl Phthalate (DEP) from all adult products (baby products are now phthalate-free); and

6. Phase out animal derived ingredients, nitromusks and polycyclic musks, tagetes, rose crystal and diacetyl from fragrances, with priority given to baby products.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane cause cancer in animals, and formaldehyde was recently classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

Phthalates, parabens, triclosan and polycyclic musks are all considered to be likely hormone disruptors and have been linked to a variety of health problems ranging from birth defects to diabetes, obesity and breast cancer, the group further said.

“This is a major victory for public health,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund, a co-founder of the campaign. “We applaud Johnson & Johnson for its leadership in committing to remove cancer-causing chemicals from its products. We will be vigilant in making sure it meets its commitments and will continue to encourage it to remove other ingredients of concern.”

In addition to the product changes, Johnson & Johnson has launched the website www.safetyandcarecommitment.com to bring more transparency about its products to its retail and wholesale customers. The site covers the origin of the ingredients, as well as the environmental and human safety risks for each of the company’s products.

“Consumers today expect more information and greater transparency than ever before and we’re always listening to the people who use our products," said Susan Nettesheim, Vice President of Product Stewardship & Toxicology for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. in a company-issued press release.

"On this site, we’ll do our best to explain how we make the choices we make, and to show how our plans incorporate consumers’ feedback. We want all consumers to see for themselves how and why every one of our products can be used with peace of mind,” she said.






29 August 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics in Las Piñas and Muntinlupa

A toxics watchdog has uncovered the unlawful sale of imported mercury-laden skin whitening products in Las Piñas and Muntinlupa Cities not far from the headquarters of the government agency that has banned some of them.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which has been relentlessly tracking the illicit trade of mercury-tainted cosmetics, made the shocking discovery after being able to buy two skin whitening products already recalled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2010, and three other products containing excessive levels of mercury.

“Unlike other contraband goods which are usually sold under-the-counter, mercury-laden cosmetics are openly offered for sale, making a mockery of FDA’s recall orders aimed at safeguarding consumer health and safety,” stated Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“The FDA, with support from the city and mall management, should waste no time in deploying field inspectors to confiscate the recalled products and apprehend the violators,” she emphasized.

“We request the agency to issue a new advisory recalling mercury-containing skin whitening products and warning consumers about the health ramifications of exposure to mercury,” she added.

The FDA last month affirmed the presence of elevated amounts of mercury in 14 skin whitening products submitted by the Ecowaste Coalition for confirmatory analysis.

For test buys conducted on August 26 and 28, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol was able to procure Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, S’Zitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set, Feique Rose Refining Nourishing Set Cream, Forever Beauty 10-Day Special Cream and Long Dian Tu Glutathione Pearl Natural Whitening Essence Cream.

Jiaoli and S’Zitang were among those banned by the FDA in 2010 for containing mercury above the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm).

The products, costing from P100 – P250, were obtained from small stores selling beauty products and health supplements in shopping malls such as the Starmall Alabang in Muntinlupa City and in RFC Mall, Starmall Las Piñas and Uniwide Metromall in Las Piñas City. Starmall Alabang is a stone’s throw away from the FDA headquarters, while the other malls are just a short ride away.

Subsequent chemical analysis of the five products by the EcoWaste Coalition on August 29 using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer indicated high concentrations of mercury up to 23,100 ppm.

Feique Rose Refining Nourishing Set Cream tested highest in mercury with 23,100 ppm, followed by Forever Beauty 10-Day Special Cream with 18,900 ppm, S’Zitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set with 8,754 ppm, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream with 4,779 ppm and Long Dian Tu Glutathione Pearl Natural Whitening Essence Cream with 3,660 ppm.

Citing information from the “Mercury in Products and Wastes” booklet published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the EcoWaste Coalition warned that exposure to mercury in cosmetic products can cause adverse health effects.

Some of the effects of mercury exposure to the skin include blotchiness, discoloring, rashes and scarring. Exposure can also reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin infections.

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





27 August 2012

US Study Triggers Fresh Call for PH Ban on Phthalates in Children's Products

A brand new US report has revealed that toxic plastic chemical additives linked to infertility, birth defects, asthma, obesity, diabetes, early puberty and other health problems were found to be rife in children’s vinyl school supplies.

The report “Hidden Hazards: Toxic Chemicals Inside Children’s Vinyl Back-to-School Supplies” published by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) in Virginia and the Empire State Consumer Project in New York found high concentrations of phthalates in 15 of the 20 items analyzed.

“Our investigation found elevated levels of toxic phthalates widespread in children’s school supplies. Unfortunately, while phthalates have been banned in children’s toys (in US), similar safeguards don’t yet exist to keep them out of lunchboxes, backpacks and other children’s school supplies,” said CHEJ’s Mike Schade, author of the new report.

Released yesterday, August 26, at a press conference in New York with Senator Chuck Schumer, the report quickly caught the attention of the EcoWaste Coalition, fuelling the toxics watchdog’s renewed call for a ban on the use of phthalates in children’s products such as toys, school supplies and childcare articles. The EcoWaste Coalition has co-released the report in partnership with CHEJ.

“Local health policy makers and advocates should pay attention to these latest available data on phthalates in school supplies and initiate concrete steps that will prevent children’s exposure to these harmful chemical additives. It’s high time that the government bans the use of phthalates in the manufacturing of children’s products,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Phthalates (pronounced as “THAL-ates) are a class of toxic industrial chemicals that are hazardous at even low levels of exposure. As plasticizers, phthalates are used to make plastics, particularly polyvinyl chloride (PVC), softer, more flexible and durable. DEHP, DNOP, DMP, and DBP were among the phthalates detected in the school supplies sampled.

Since the phthalates are not chemically bound to the vinyl, they can migrate from within the products to the surface. Children may be exposed to elevated levels of these toxic substances by using these school supplies. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children face the highest exposure to these hazardous chemicals.

CHEJ detected elevated levels of toxic phthalates in 75% of the sampled Disney, Spiderman, and Dora branded school supplies, including vinyl lunchboxes, backpacks, 3-ring binders, raincoats, and rainboots. All of the products were purchased during the 2012 “back-to-school” shopping season in US.

One product tested, the Amazing Spiderman Lunchbox, contained an estimated 2.79% of the phthalate DEHP, a suspected carcinogen. If this product were a children’s toy, it would be over 27 times the US federal limit for toys.

CHEJ’s study also showed that 55% of children’s back to school supplies sampled contained more than one phthalate, indicating children are exposed to multiple phthalates from vinyl back to school supplies.

None of the products sampled contained labels indicating the products contained phthalates.

"It is disturbing that millions of young children are being exposed to these toxic chemicals with no regulations to protect them," said Judy Braiman of the Empire State Consumer Project, co-publisher of the report.

The results of the CHEJ’s study were similar to the findings of the EcoWaste Coalition, which has twice commissioned independent laboratory analyses for phthalates in PVC school supplies.

In 2012, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that four out of five samples of PVC school supplies it had sent to the laboratory for analysis were found to contain excessive amounts of phthalates. A Dora the Explorer pink PVC raincoat had 35.86% of the phthalate DINP; a metal ruler with a rubberized part containing Smileys had 0.534% DNOP and 0.285% DINP; a red PVC plastic envelope with images of Angry Birds had 1.89% DINP, 2.21% DEHP and 2.86% DIDP; and a Princess Mica PVC lunch bag had 2.57%, 0.280% DBP and 0.189% DINP.

In 2010, all five samples of PVC school supplies that the EcoWaste Coalition sent to the laboratory were found to contain elevated quantities of phthalate DEHP. A green long PVC plastic envelope had 19.881% DEHP; a PVC plastic book cover had 18.997% DEHP; a PVC notebook cover had 18.543% DEHP; a PVC plastic lunch bag had 17.120% DEHP; and a PVC backpack had 17.120 DEHP.

The results, which got publicized in the local media, prompted Sen. Lito Lapid to file a resolution calling for an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the proliferation of school supplies containing phthalates that pose serious health risks to school children.

Also at the Senate, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed Senate Bill 1596, which seeks to prohibit the sale of toys and other children’s articles to children three years of age and below “if it contains any measurable amount of phthalates.”

At the House of Representatives, Rep. Susan Yap had introduced House Bill 321 specifically banning the sale of toys and childcare articles containing phthalate BBP, DBP, DEHP, DIDP, DINP or DNOP in excess of 0.1% by mass.


Please log on to http://chej.org/2012/08/backtoschool2012/ to see the report and the photos of school supplies that CHEJ tested, as well as the CHEJ’s “Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies” featuring a listing of safer alternatives to phthalate-laden vinyl products in over 40 different product categories, from backpacks and binders to lunchboxes and electronics.

23 August 2012

Groups Seek Faster Phase Out Period for Leaded Paints

(Photo from ehow)

"There is no compelling reason to extend the phase out period for lead-added paints to six years.”

Over 115 civil society groups and individuals hammer home this message to environment officials and regulators as the government mulls over a long delayed phase out policy on paints containing lead, one of the oldest known chemical poisons.

“We appeal to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to correct this clear case of chemical oversight and injustice by requiring paint companies to transition from lead to non-lead additives at the shortest time possible,” said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator of the EcoWasteCoalition, a non-profit citizens’ group campaigning for chemical safety and zero waste.

“Environment Secretary Paje, we hope, will seize this opportunity to make a huge impact in securing our children’s health and future against preventable lead exposure,” he added.

A draft chemical control order (CCO) for lead and lead compounds, first introduced in 2007, is currently being finalized by theDENR-EMB following stakeholders’ consultations last year.

The CCO, once approved by Secretary Paje, will set a mandatory total lead limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for decorative paints, a standard at par with that of the United States.

While commending the DENR-EMB for adopting the “practically achievable” 90 ppm lead limit, the groups were quick to reject the proposed phase-out period of six years for leaded paints.

Through a open letter sent today to DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, Environmental Management Bureau Director Juan Miguel Cuna and staff in charge of chemicals management, the groups described the proposed six-year phase out period “as extremely long and totally questionable from the public interest point of view.”

The groups sought a more rapid implementation of the proposed ban on the use of lead in paints, particularly in decorative paints and other paints most likely to contribute to childhood lead exposure, including anti-corrosive and anti-rust paints sold for consumer use or for use in playgrounds and other locations frequented by children.

While expressing preference for a phase out period of one year or less, the groups alluded to the possibility of an 18-month phase out period, citing the phase out provision for leaded gasoline under the CleanAir Act of 1999.

Exposure to lead, a toxic metal, can have deep and lasting health effects on developing fetuses and young children who are most at risk to lead-induced neurological harm, including developmental delays, mental retardation, intelligence quotient (IQ) shortfalls, poor school performance, attention deficit disorder, aggression and other behavioral problems.

Health specialists have identified no “safe” level of lead exposure inchildren.

“The conspicuously extended phase out period of six years goes against the urgency of phasing out lead-added paint, which is globally recognized as “the world’s most common source of significant childhood lead exposure,” the groups said.

“We believe that unless the government and the society swiftly eliminate the addition of lead in paint formulations, we will end up with more individuals, particularly young children, women of child-bearing age and workers,unwittingly exposed to this chemical poison,” the groups warned

Information obtained by the EcoWaste Coalition from Prof. Scott Clark, a senior environmental health expert from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, shows that millions of American children have been poisoned in the past and currently 300,000 children are still over exposed at levels where detrimental effects occur.

The groups also said “that unless lead-added paints are removed from the market at the earliest time feasible, we will end up with more homes, schools,playgrounds and facilities contaminated with lead that will require expensive remediation measures.”

According to Clark, partial lead hazard control intervention in the US often costs an average of $10,000 per housing unit.

To show that the 90 ppm limit is “practicallyachievable,” the groups pointed out that paints with no detectable levels of lead or with lead below 90 ppm are already available for sale in the domestic market.

33.3%of the 15 enamel paint samples from the Philippines that the EcoWaste Coalitionsent to India for analysis in 2008 were found to contain lead below 90 ppm,with one product containing 3.4 ppm. The average lead content for samples exceeding the 90 ppm threshold was 28,354 ppm,with one product having 189,164 ppm of lead.

For the 35 enamel paint samples that the group sent to the USA for laboratory analysis in 2010, 31.4% had lead levels below 90 ppm,with one product having 4.5 ppm of lead. For this batch of samples, the average lead level for those with more than 90 ppm of lead was 27,504, with one product containing 161,651 ppm of lead.

Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the EcoWaste Coalition in March 2012 detected lead above 90 ppm in 17 out of 25 enamel paint samples, with one product having 70,200 ppm of lead. Eight of the samples had no detectable levels of lead.

If approved, the CCO will also ban several uses of lead, including its use in the manufacturing of toys, school supplies and cosmetics, as a food and drink preservative, as a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) stabilizer, as glaze on food and beverage containers and utensils, and as ammunition slags, among other prohibitions.


19 August 2012

Toxics Watchdog Finds Mercury-Laden Cosmetics in QC Stores

Skin whitening products containing mercury, a highly toxic chemical, are still being sold in Quezon City despite a government-issued recall order.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an independent toxics tracker, revealed the unrelenting sale of mercury-tainted skin whitening creams after obtaining 10 samples from stores located in the Araneta Center in Cubao and in Ever Gotesco Commonwealth Center along Don Mariano Marcos Avenue on August 17 and 18.

The samples, with prices ranging from P90 to P250, were subjected to mercury analysis on August 18 using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer that found excessive mercury, from 349 ppm to 11,200 ppm, in 90 percent of the samples.

The limit for mercury in cosmetics under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, to which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) subscribes to, is one ppm.

“We cannot close our eyes to the deplorable sale of mercury-laden cosmetics that could harm our women and the environment,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We urge Quezon City’s public health and safety officials, in collaboration with the FDA, to go after the importers, distributors and sellers of these dangerous products. It's time to get tough with traders of poison cosmetics,” she added.

Of the 10 samples bought from food and health supplements shops, tiangge (flea market) stalls and one Chinese drug store, nine were found to contain mercury above the allowable limit.

Of the nine mercury-laden products, six were among the 50 brands recalled under the FDA Advisory 2011-012 issued on August 4 last year.

“The (recalled) products pose imminent danger or injury to the consuming public and the importation, selling or offering for sale of such is in direct violation of Republic Act 9711 or the FDA Act of 2009,” the advisory stated.

These six banned skin whitening products are JJJ Magic Spot Cream (with 11,200 ppm of mercury), S’zitang (6,164 ppm), Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set (6,117 ppm), Lan Mei Rou 12 Days Whitening and Speckle Removing Suit (4,858 ppm), Jiaoli Miraculous Cream (3,738 ppm), and Beauty Girl Ginseng and Green Cucumber Essence 10 Days Double Whitening, Speckles Removed (3,635 ppm).

The other three products with high concentrations of mercury are “Special Cream” double (1,828 ppm), “Special Cream” single (1,254 ppm) and Fruit and Lovely Quick Acting Whitener and Speckle Remover Package (349 ppm).

The samples were incompletely or wrongly labeled and none of them listed mercury as product ingredient, Lucero noted.

Mercury in skin lightening products such as soaps and creams, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), can damage the kidneys and cause skin discoloration, rashes and scarring and also reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

Mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish. Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children, cautioned the WHO.

Irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, memory problems, depression and numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around mouth are some of the signs and symptoms of mercury poisoning.

Mercury, one of the 48 chemicals in the Priority Chemcials List of the Philippines, is considered by WHO as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.





18 August 2012

Green Groups Join the Fray, Press Congress to Pass FOI Bill

Environmental groups have joined the fray to have the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill enacted by the 15th Congress.

The groups are one with FOI advocates, including enlightened legislators, academicians, media practitioners and the civil society, in asking Congress not to waste the historic chance of passing a law “that could help end the culture of government secrecy and corruption.”

“There are many reasons why the FOI should be enacted. Chief among them is the belief that with greater transparency, there would be less corruption in the government. Our view is that corruption translates to more environmental pollution,” said Von Hernandez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“In the spirit of fostering transparency and greater public participation, we support the swift passage of this measure,” he said.

“We wish however that the public right to know provisions of the bill also specifically extend to community disclosure requirements involving dangerous and toxic chemicals and materials used or disposed of by industries and other pollution sources,” he clarified.

“Information that may impinge on public health and the environment should not be kept secret and regarded as confidential,” he pointed out.

For her part, Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator of the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC), said that “if enacted, the FOI bill will make it easy for impacted communities and their allies to get hold of and scrutinize vital documents such as waste contracts entered into by local and national authorities, including the minutes and transcripts of relevant official meetings.”

“Public access to procurement and service contracts will deter crooked politicos, bureaucrats and influence peddlers from engaging in fraudulent transactions to the disadvantage of the people and the environment,” she added.

Aside from the EcoWaste Coalition and the PEJC, the passage of the FOI bill is supported by other green groups such as Ang NARS, Arugaan, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Lingkod Tao Kalikasan, Krusada para sa Kalikasan, Miriam PEACE, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Philippine Network on Climate Change and Zero Waste Philippines, among others.

The FOI bill, if approved, will implement the constitutional right of the people to information on matters of public concern as well as the state policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving the public interest, the groups asserted.

Furthermore, the FOI bill, according to environmentalists, will help to "institutionalize public participation in the development and implementation of national and local integrated, comprehensive and ecological waste management programs" as required under R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

It will further "encourage the participation of an informed and active public in air and water quality planning and monitoring” as provided for in R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act and R.A. 9275, the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Air Act specifically recognizes "the right of access to public records which a citizen may need to exercise his or her rights effectively under this Act."



http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno9003.htm {Article 1, Section 1, (i)}

http://www.chanrobles.com/philippinecleanairact.htm {Article 1, Section 3 (d); Section 4 (f)}

http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno9275.htm {Article 1, Section 2 (h)}

16 August 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Appeals to the People to Heed the President's Warning against Improper Waste Disposal

The warning aired by President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) against litterbugs who dump their discards in waterways causing flood control equipment to slow down or conk out has received strong support from advocates for a “litter-free Pilipinas.”

Yesterday, August 15, Aquino urged Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Manila Rep. Zenaida Angpin, during a visit to the Binondo Pumping Station, to impose stringent penalties to dissuade those who throw their refuse in waterways.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network pushing for sustainable solutions to waste and pollution woes, commended the chief executive for taking a strong stance against the dumping of garbage in waterways – an illegal act under Section 48 of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“We are one with the President in seeking the cooperation of all citizens in putting an end to the irresponsible disposal of garbage in public areas, particularly in streets and waterways, which interferes with the flow of water as well as with the efficient operation of pumping stations, and thus causes awful floods during heavy rains,” said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Let us pay sincere attention to the President’s plea for ecological waste management to mitigate flooding in Manila and elsewhere, which is for the common good,” he emphasized.

“Having proven himself successful in silencing abusive wang-wang (sirens), we know that P-Noy can be a victorious basura buster. He can be the zero waste champion that our nation needs,” he added.

Alejo pointed out that “an honest-to-goodness enforcement of R.A. 9003, led by P-Noy and supported by his bosses (the Filipino people), will have a tremendous effect in restoring our degraded ecosystems, in preventing resources from being destroyed, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from wastes that are dumped, landfilled or incinerated and in minimizing flooding.”

"It will also save large amounts of taypayers' money used to pay for waste disposal and for costly dredging operations of clogged storm drains and waterways," he said.

Politicians led by Senators Chiz Escudero and Loren Legarda have likewise pressed for the stricter implementation of R.A. 9003 to curb the flood and garbage problems following the incessant torrential rains that submerged 80% of Metro Manila last week, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

R.A. 9003 unequivocally prohibits the littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and other public places.

R.A. 9003 also bans the open burning and open dumping of garbage.

The law, signed by Aquino’s predecessor, ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, on January 26, 2001, further prohibits the establishment and operation of open dumps for waste disposal.

In lieu of open burning and open dumping, the law provides for “the formulation and adoption of best environmental practices in ecological solid waste management excluding incineration.”




09 August 2012

Green Groups to the Public: "Recover, Reuse, Recycle"

(Garbage woes at Barangay Damayang Lagi, Quezon City, 9 August 2012)
Environmentalists today appealed to the public to salvage whatever useful discards they can as citizens switch to the cleanup mode following the widespread floods in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces due to days of heavy monsoon rains.

“We urge everyone to be mindful of what they dispose of as the massive cleanup in affected communities is set to begin anytime now that the monsoon floods have started to subside,” said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It’s very tempting to just throw anything into the piles outside our homes and wait for the dump truck to come. Out of sight, out of mind,” he added.

“Please make efforts to recover, reuse and recycle discards that can be put to good use and keep them from ending up in dumpsites and incinerators or, worst, in waterways and into the oceans, which can exacerbate flooding and marine pollution,” he pleaded.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network championing zero waste, emphasized that society's discards should not end up in the streets, dumpsites, incinerators and the oceans where they could pose serious health and environmental hazards.

Reckless garbage disposal, the group pointed out, pollutes the rivers, seas and oceans with all types of waste, especially from single-use, non-biodegradable disposable products and packaging materials.

“Let’s not forget the trashing of Roxas Boulevard in the wake of the monsoon surge last week. What we arbitrarily dispose of will haunt us and even the next generation,” Alejo said.

The EcoWaste Coalition, Miss Earth Foundation and Mother Earth Foundation have come up with some suggestions to minimize the flow of garbage from homes to garbage disposal sites and to the oceans.

“Reduce your consumption of non-biodegradable items such as plastics and styros. Cut the waste you produce each day by segregating your discards at home and enticing relatives and neighbors to do the same and recycle together,” advised Alejo.

“Go for reusable bags and products instead of disposable ones. Buy in bulk to minimize packaging waste. Recycle and use your own junk to augment your income,” recommended Cathy Untalan, Executive Director, Miss Earth Foundation.

“Families in evacuation centers should observe proper waste management. Plastic bags for relief goods should not be carelessly thrown and should be properly managed,” suggested Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson, Mother Earth Foundation.

In light of extreme weather disturbances due to climate change, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its call for the government to initiate a participatory process to draw up a management plan for disaster debris.

Disaster debris will include household debris (appliances, furniture, household goods), building debris (wood, concrete, metal, drywall) and vegetative debris (tree limbs, garden and farm waste).

“As you can see not all disaster debris is the same. There are ‘problem waste streams’ that will require special handling to avoid physical harm, bacterial contamination or chemical exposure among residents and waste workers,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


07 August 2012

Government Urged to Check Conditions of Dumpsites after Continuous Rains

A waste and pollution watchdog has asked concerned national and local government agencies to conduct immediate inspection and assessment of waste disposal facilities following persistent rains in many parts of the archipelago, particularly in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and local government units hosting garbage transfer stations, dumpsites or landfills to fully assess the physical conditions of the facilities amid the inclement weather.

“The site inspection is crucial as garbage disposal facilities are prone to flooding, soil erosion, leachate spillage, ‘garbageslide’ and other health and environmental hazards as we have seen in the past,” said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It is possible that the monsoon rains may have softened the soil and caused undetected damage to the facilities, particularly the retention walls of dumpsites and landfills,” he said.

Alejo recalled that the Payatas dumpsite tragedy in Quezon City on July 10, 2000 occurred after days of nonstop rains, which triggered a 50 foot wall of trash to collapse and bury hundreds of people alive.

More recently, heavy rains caused the retaining wall of the Irisan dumpsite in Baguio City to give way on August 27, 2011, killing five persons.

“As the health and safety of the people and the environment is at stake here, we propose that such inspection be conducted in an open and transparent manner involving residents, barangay officials and civil society representatives. The public have the right to know,” he emphasized.

The Pier 18 Garbage Station in Tondo, Manila and the dumpsites and/or landfills in Payatas, Quezon City, in Antipolo City, Rodriguez and San Mateo, Rizal, in Tanza, Navotas City, in Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan, and even the one being constructed in Salambao, Obando, Bulacan are located in environmentally-critical areas, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

While site inspection is indeed necessary, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that garbage disposal facilities, including the so-called engineered landfills, can never be entirely safe even with the most expensive liners and pollution mitigation measures.

The group echoed a warning by experts that “today’s state-of-the-art landfills are expected to be threats to groundwater quality for hundreds to thousands of years after closure.”

Instead of being fixated with garbage disposal through landfills or incinerators, the EcoWaste Coalition proposes investments on effective programs that will prevent and reduce waste volume and toxicity, including clean production, product redesign, toxics use reduction, reduced packaging, eco-friendly consumption, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting.

This will require the honest-to-goodness enforcement of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, including the closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of dumpsites and their replacements with community-driven materials recovery facilities or ecology centers.


Reference re number of years that state-of-the-art landfills would remain a threat to groundwater quality:
“Three R’s Managed Garbage Protects Groundwater Quality” by G. Fred Lee, P.E. and Anne Jones Lee, Ph.D. (www.gfredlee.com/plandfil2/htm) and “Landfills are Dangerous” by Peter Montague (www.rachel.org)

06 August 2012

Toxics Watchdog Slams Unconcealed Sale of Banned Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics in Baclaran (10 of 10 Skin Whitening Creams Loaded with Mercury Poison)

Some skin whitening creams that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned for containing elevated amounts of mercury, an extremely toxic chemical, are being sold like ordinary products in Baclaran.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, made the discovery after conducting its latest round of test buys to find out if the FDA Advisory 2011-012, issued on August 4, 2011, recalling 50 brands of skin lightening products for containing mercury above the "allowable limit" of 1 part per million (ppm) was being enforced or not.

The 50 listed products “pose imminent danger or injury to the consuming public and the importation, selling, or offering for sale of such is a violation of Republic Act 9711 or the FDA Act of 2009,” the FDA advisory warned.

“Our investigation shows that we could still obtain some of the forbidden mercury-laden products in the market one year after the FDA came out with the list,” stated Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It’s toxic cosmetics galore, particularly in Baclaran, where the recalled products are traded in the open, along with other personal care products of dubious safety and quality,” she said.

"We call on our food and drug regulators, together with the city governments of Parañaque and Pasay, to flex some muscles, confiscate the contraband goods, and file charges against erring stores and their proprietors,” she added.

Last Saturday, August 4, 2012, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol went to Baclaran and managed to buy six FDA-banned products such as 1) Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 2) Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 3) Miss Beauty Magic Cream, 4) Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (gold, blue and purple color), 5) Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (gold, brown and old rose color), and 6) S’Zitang.

The group also purchased four other skin whitening products with incomplete or misleading labels in violation of R.A. 9711 as well as R.A. 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines such as: 1) Panive 7-Day Whitening Speckle Removing Series (no information on manufacturer or distributor), 2) Qian Mei (product label and insert in Chinese, Russian and Thai), 3) Spring Return Ginseng and Pearl Natural Pure Plants Whitening Cream (supposedly from “New York, USA”), and 4) TVC Spot Removal Cream (allegedly from “Mexico,” but “made in P.R.C.”).

“These deceivingly unhealthy products bragged their herbal or natural extracts such as garlic, ginko biloba and ginseng, but none listed mercury as an ingredient,” Lucero noted.

Mercury analysis conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on August 6, 2012 using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device showed excessive mercury levels in all the 10 products, with Miss Beauty Magic Cream registering the highest level of mercury at 12,700 ppm.

According to the “Epidemiological Alert: Mercury in Skin Lightening Products” issued by the World Health Organization in June 2012, “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”

“Mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy,” the WHO said.

Citing information from the WHO, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that the disposal of mercury-containing cosmetics is both a health and environmental issue since mercury is eventually released into the wastewater.

“The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish. Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children,” the WHO said.


Skin whitening products and their mercury levels based on the XRF screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on August 6, 2012 (enclosed in parentheses is the place of purchase and the cost of the item):

1) Miss Beauty Magic Cream, 12,700 ppm (Store SF 80-81, Baclaran Terminal Plaza; P150)

2) TVC Spot Removal Cream, 9,971 ppm (Good Year Chinese Drug Store; P150)

3) Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 7,243ppm (Store K-9, Baclaran Terminal Plaza; P100)

4) Spring Return Ginseng and Pearl Natural Pure Plants Whitening Cream, 6,667 ppm (Baclaran Chinese Drug Store; P100)

5) Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 4,630 ppm (Store D02-04, Baclaran Terminal Plaza; P70)

6) S’Zitang, 4,125 ppm (Store SF-48, Baclaran Terminal Plaza; P80)

7) Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (gold, blue and purple color), 1,437 ppm (Store C-47, Baclaran Terminal Plaza; P220)

8) Panive 7-Day Whitening Speckle Removing Series, 695 ppm (Store SF, Baclaran Terminal Plaza; P120)

9) Qian Mei, 430 ppm (Store SF, Baclaran Terminal Plaza; P120)

10) Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (gold, brown and old rose color), 199 ppm (Store C-47, Baclaran Terminal Plaza; P220)




03 August 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Alerts City and Barangay Officials about Lead-Tainted Play Equipment in San Andres, Manila

5 August 2012. A toxics watchdog has revealed that it has detected a high prevalence of lead, a toxic chemical, at a children’s park in Manila that recently got a makeover, courtesy of Hollywood actress Rachel Weisz of the soon to be shown movie “Bourne Legacy.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for the elimination of lead in paint and consumer products, disclosed that 73% of the play equipment and painted surfaces that the group analyzed at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila had lead up to over 100,000 parts per million (ppm).

The US regulatory limit for paint is 90 ppm and this applies to paints and other similar surface coatings, certain furniture, toys and other articles intended for use by children, including playground equipment.

The said sport and recreation center served as base for the production team of "Bourne Legacy," which shot action-packed scenes in San Andres early this year.

Weisz made upbeat news when she donated an undisclosed sum of money for the rehabilitation of the playground.

“We admire Rachel Weisz’s generosity and we do not intend to cast any doubt about her sincerity to help the children of San Andres. With their well-being close to her heart, we know Rachel would never want the children to be exposed to lead, a potent brain poison, particularly in a place where they ought to play and enjoy,” affirmed Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The usual wear-and-tear of play equipment with lead and the surface erosion due to exposure to the sun, rain and moisture will cause the paint coatings to break off over time, creating chips and dust that children unknowingly ingest as they put their hands in their mouths and thus present a lead poisoning hazard,” said Dr. Bessie Antonio, a pediatric toxicologist at East Avenue Medical Center.

According to the UN-sponsored Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, "childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year."

It is globally recognized that lead is much more dangerous to children than adults, and that lead-containing paint is a major source of childhood lead exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

“Our latest findings make it all the more urgent for the government to adopt and enforce an accelerated phase out of lead-added paint to protect children from being exposed to this preventable source of exposure. Private and public entities should specify the use of certified unleaded paint in their procurement policies,” Lucero added.

Equipped with a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemicals analyzer, the EcoWaste Coalition went to San Andres on Tuesday, July 31, and screened the play equipment and other painted surfaces on site.

On August 3, the group notified the Manila City Government about the results through Sally Refulgente, Acting Chief of the Recreation Division. Digna Pascua, officer-in-charge of Barangay 704, Zone 77, was likewise personally informed.

Among those that showed elevated levels of lead were the merry-go-round (now broken and kept in a storeroom with 93,700 ppm of lead) and see-saw play equipment (with over 100,000 ppm of lead), which were bought out of Weisz’s donation.

The swings, slides and the various monkey bar sets were likewise found laden with excessive amounts of lead, particularly the yellow painted parts with average lead amounting to over 58,281 ppm.

Also, the EcoWaste Coalition found traces of lead in some of the playground protective rubber mats.

As a precautionary step, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Manila City Government, together with the local barangay council, to periodically assess the state of the playground equipment to minimize their health and safety risk to child users.

Any lead paint remediation or removal measures should strictly follow the prescribed procedures such as keeping dust to a minimum, keeping children away from the work area, ensuring proper disposal of lead-containing waste, and ensuring workers wear proper respiratory protection for lead dust and that they don’t take dust home, the group stressed.

The group also called on the parents to ensure that kids wash their hands after playing outdoors, especially before meals, to wash off lead and other harmful substances that may have gotten on their hands.


02 August 2012

Garbage Surge in Roxas Boulevard Kindles Plea for Ecological Waste Management (EcoWaste Coalition Pushes Full Enforcement of R.A. 9003)

(Photos by Rene Sandajan/Manny Calonzo)

The blast of garbage in the promenade along Manila Bay due to the stormy weather has again put a spotlight on improper waste disposal.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog,described the chaos in Roxas Boulevard due to monsoon surge, flood and garbage as Mother Nature’s indictment of throw-away culture that runs through all levels of the society.

Yesterday, 1 August, tons of garbage from the bay carpeted portions of the baywalk creating an instant dumpsite right next to the US Embassy.

At the other end of the promenade, garbage gathered at the Manila Yacht Club, especially last Tuesday, turning the area into a “white beach” due to the plastic and styro flotsam.

“Binalik ng dagat ang lahat ng basura mula sa lupa na parang sinasabi sa mga matitigas ang ulo na kung ano ang tinapon mo ay babalik sa iyo” (The sea sent back the garbage from the land as if telling off pigheaded people that whatever you throw will return to you), said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

An ocular inspection by the EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrol found plastic bags and scraps, food wrappers, polystyrene materials, slippers, cigarette butts, plant and wood discards as among the most visible in the garbage piles.

Discarded plastic bottles and other recyclable plastic and tin containers were quick to disappear from the piles as enterprising wastepickers collect and even fish them out of the sea with their improvised net trap, the group noted.

The EcoWaste Coalition lamented that despite the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy in 2009 and the just as devastating incidents of flooding after it year after year, many Filipinos - from all walks of life - have yet to unlearn the bad habit of indiscriminate disposal.

“Improper waste disposal anywhere is a threat to human health and the environment everywhere. It’s more than an eyesore. It’s a precursor for other societal problems such as poor hygiene and sanitation, infectious diseases, chemical exposures, contamination of surface and ground waters, marine pollution, bleak tourism and even economic losses,”said Alejo.

In lieu of “waste mismanagement,” the EcoWaste Coalition urged the entire society, including the people, government, church, mass media, business and industry, to actively work for the full enforcement of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The ecological management of discards will require a switch from the prevalent “buy,consume, dispose of, dump or incinerate” mentality to a sustainable way of living that embraces environmental protection and care beginning with waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting.

To assist the public in making the switch, the EcoWaste Coalition drew up a list of 13 practical “Bawas Basura” tips, which, if carried out, will promote ecological consumption choices as well as avert the disposal of useful discards in streets, waterways, waste dumps and burners.

A shift to ecological waste management will reduce the nation’s burgeoning waste estimated at nearly 13 million tons yearly, put an end to the outmoded practice of littering, burning and dumping of discards, and shut down and rehabilitate the over 1,000 illegal dumpsites all over the country, the group said.

Citing information from the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the whole country produces some 35,000 tons of waste daily, of which 8,400 tons come from Metro Manila.

Of the 12,775,000 tons of waste generated annually, some 40 to 70 per cent are collected and thrown in 1,205 waste disposal facilities, of which 55 are “sanitary” landfills and 1,172 are open or controlled dumpsites long forbidden under R.A. 9003.

Recognizing the central role of local government units in the implementation of R.A. 9003, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to all concerned public servants to earnestly enforce the law, combining sustained information, education and other value-formation efforts with steadfast programs to prevent and reduce waste.



1. Reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose, segregate at source,recycle, compost and never litter your discards. Commit to diverting useful discards away from dumpsites, landfills, incinerators and cement kilns.

2. Discourage others from dropping or dumping trash;courteously explain how litter ruins the environment and damages public health and welfare.

3. Make it a habit to bring your own drinking water in are fillable water tumbler or jug. For coffee drinkers, always bring your refillable coffee mug/tumbler.

4. Don’t toss cigarette filters on the ground; work hard to quit smoking.

5. Carry a personal litter bag or hold on to your rubbish such as bus tickets, food wrappers and cigarette butts until you have found a bin.

6. Never throw litter out of cars; keep a litter bag in your vehicle to collect your trash until a bin is available.

7. Don’t dispose hazardous waste such as mercury-containing lamps, batteries and thermometers in regular trash.

8. Be a smart consumer, small is beautiful and less is more. Say no to plastic bags, make eco-bags your lifetime companion and always keep reusable/foldable bags in your purse or pocket for your needs.

9. Avoid buying in plastic sachets and “tipid-packs,” buy in bulk as much as possible and choose items in reusable or recyclable containers.

10. Bring empty ice cream or biscuit containers or small buckets when going to the market. You can use them for wet goods such as fish, poultry or meat before putting them into the basket or reusable bag.

11. Make it a practice to carry reusable food containers with you. This would come handy for take outs as well as leftovers from restaurants.

12. Shun drinking straws. Remind waiters not to give you one when you place your order and explain why. Drink straight from the bottle or use a cup instead.

13. Refrain from consuming single-use, throw-away stuff and opt for reusable ones such as cloth table napkin and cover instead of disposable ones, handkerchief in place of tissues, native fans in lieu of plastic fans.


01 August 2012

Environmentalists Cite Manila City Council for Early "Christmas Gift" to Mother Nature

(Froilan Grate)

Zero waste advocates gave a resounding thumbs up to the Manila City Council for pulling the plug on unchecked consumption and disposal of plastic bags and polystyrene containers.

On Tuesday, July 31, the City Council approved on third and final reading City Ordinance 7393 banning the use of plastic bags for dry goods and regulating their use for wet goods, while also banning the use of polystyrene and similar materials for food, produce and other products.

As soon as the presiding officer, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, banged the gavel and announced the adoption of the ordinance, representatives of the EcoWaste Coalition, Mother Earth Foundation, Zero Waste Philippines and Bukluran, proudly carrying some bayong, honored and thanked the councilors with a standing ovation.

They later gave the handwoven bayong made of palm leaves and water hyacinth to Vice Mayor Moreno and the councilors as token of their appreciation for Manila’s environmental action.

Sponsored by Councilors Jocelyn Dawis-Asuncion, Cristina Isip, Numero Lim and Ma. Sheilah Lacuna-Pangan and co-sponsored by 34 other councilors, the ordinance will take effect one year after Mayor Alfredo Lim has signed it.

“We congratulate the people of Manila and their elected representatives for passing the ordinance, which is undeniably an early Christmas gift to Mother Nature. By nipping wasteful consumption in the bud, we give a new lease of life to our plastic-strewn surroundings, creeks and rivers and to Manila Bay itself,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson of the Mother Earth Foundation.

For his part, Edwin Alejo, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “City Ordinance 7393 will greatly reduce the volume of plastic and polystyrene garbage that fills the bins and dumps, clogs our drainage, renders our water bodies biologically dead, and poses danger to humans and animals, too. Hats off to the Manila City Council for seriously advocating for environmental stewardship through waste avoidance and reduction.”

Alejo added that consumers should really rethink their use of plastic bags to protect the environment from further degradation.

“If one consumer will stop using plastic bags and use reusable bags instead, he or she can save over 20,000 plastic bags in his/her lifetime. Aside from helping protect the environment, this would also mean greater financial savings for consumers and taxpayers who unknowingly pay for every plastic bag used and discarded, including the costs for their cleanup and disposal.”

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the success of Las Pinas City in reducing their waste volume by 37% through the strong-willed implementation of their “Plastic Regulation Ordinance,” combined with values formation campaign on the benefits of waste reduction, segregation at source and recycling.

For Ofelia Panganiban of Zero Waste Philippines, City Ordinance 7393 has the potential of unleashing people’s ingenuity and creativity in finding ecological replacements for the ubiquitous plastic bags and styro containers.

“The ban, we hope, will lead to a greater awareness about our shared responsibility to protect our environment and boost the culture of creatively reusing what we have and reducing what we throw away to the bare minimum,” she said.

Panganiban noted that convenient carry bags can be fashioned out of used shirts and pants, old bed sheets, blankets and pillow cases, empty flour and rice sacks and even retired school bags.

City Ordinance 7393 has tasked the city government to promote a “Bring Your Own Bayong/Bag,” or BYOB campaign, and the use of indigenous materials for plastic bag replacements.

The ordinance also prohibits business establishments from offering or selling plastic bags as primary or secondary packaging for dry goods, and further disallows barangay collection of discarded plastics unless these are first cleaned and dried.


Note: According to http://www.plasticpledge.org/, each individual uses 22,176 bags in an average lifetime.