30 July 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Filing of Smuggling Charges vs Canada Garbage Importer

An environmental watchdog group welcomed the legal action taken by customs authorities against the importer of 48 shipping containers of misdeclared plastic scraps from Canada.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) today sued Pampanga-based Live Green Enterprises for the illegal importation of heterogenous municipal garbage from Canada, a move that was welcomed by the EcoWaste Coalition, a staunch anti-dumping advocate.

“We welcome BOC’s legal action against the garbage importer that we hope will be expeditiously tackled by the proper court,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.”

“The court, we pray, should order the importer to immediately re-export the garbage to Canada and set a unequivocal ruling that will severely castigate and punish any attempt to make our country into a global trash bin,” she added.

On Thursday, BOC sued Nelson Manio of Live Green Enterprises for violation of Sections 3601 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines and the DENR Administrative Order 1994-28, or the “Interim Guidelines in the Importation of Recyclable Material Containing Hazardous Substances."

DENR A.O. 1994-28 states that “no importation of heterogenous and unsorted plastic materials shall be allowed” and that “all plastics should have no traces of toxic materials.”  

In their letter to the BOC and the Environmental Management Bureau on this matter last June 25, the EcoWaste Coalition urged both agencies “to push for the immediate return of the botched garbage shipments for environmentally-sound disposal in Canada.”

“Allowing the landfilling of Canadian garbage into our soil would send a very wrong and dangerous signal to waste traders that the Philippines, despite the legal restrictions, is an open place where the refuse of affluent societies masked as ‘plastic scraps’ can be sent for disposal,” the group said.  

Shipping back the illegal garbage imports from Canada, the group said, “will demonstrate that our government means business when it comes to protecting the public health and the environment from illegal waste trade.”

The group also urged BOC “to pay keen attention on the entry of materials described as ‘recyclable plastic scraps,’ which could be a smokescreen for the illegal entry of residual ‘wastes collected from households,’ which are also covered by the Basel Convention, along with other categories of hazardous wastes.”

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, of which the Philippines is a party, recognizes “that any state has the sovereign right to ban the entry or disposal of foreign hazardous wastes and other wastes in its territory.”


29 July 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Exposes Continued Sale of Artificial Nail Sets with Toxic Glue in Divisoria

A toxics watchdog group advised consumers to refrain from buying artificial nail sets with matching glue that contains hazardous substances such as chloroform and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).

“DBP and chloroform are among the over 1,350 substances that ‘must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products’ as per Annex II, Part I of the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.  Girls and women who are fond of art nails should be wary of potential health hazards due to exposure to these chemicals in some glue products,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon urged consumers to exercise precaution after his group procured nine brands of artificial nail sets in Divisoria, Manila that come with a little tube of glue containing DBP as indicated on the label.

These brands include Art Nails, Design Nail, Fashion Nail, Hong Lin Fringed Iris Art Nail, Keke Designer Nails Set, Meijiaer, Miss Seven Nail Art Set, New Air Art Nail and Yu Yao Nail Art Beads Set, which the group bought last Monday for P3 to P80 per set at cosmetics shops in 168, 999 and Lucky Chinatown shopping malls.

The above products lacked complete labeling information and the required product notification from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

“Almost six months after the government warned against artificial nail sets with DBP-containing adhesive glue, we still find them in the market as if they are legal to sell,” lamented Dizon.

Last February 2015, the FDA  warned  against allergic effects from DBP that “can cause the immune system to respond to chemical exposures with immunological reactions that are harmful, varying from hives to life threatening responses such as anaphylactic shock, where low blood pressure and breathing difficulties can result in death.”

The EcoWaste Coalition also warned against a type of nail glue that was recently banned in Denmark for containing excessive amount of chloroform, which can cause skin irritation and damage a person’s health if ingested or inhaled.

The Danish health authorities further warned that “exposure to chloroform fumes can cause damage to internal organs, mainly the liver and kidneys, as well as risk of cancer.”

During its recent market monitoring in Divisoria, the group managed to buy a nail glue for P8 per bottle that bears a close resemblance to the one that was ordered withdrawn from the market by the Danish government.

To avoid potential exposure to chloroform and DBP in nail glues, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to patronize nail products with proper FDA Certificate of Product Notification and marketed by FDA-licensed manufacturer, importer or distributor.






28 July 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Waste Disposal Facilities and Surrounding Communities to Take Part in Earthquake Drill

An environmental watchdog group urged waste disposal facilities and surrounding communities to actively participate in the metro-wide earthquake drill this coming Thursday.

“The participation of all sectors is essential to avoid loss of life, lessen damage to property and reduce contamination of the environment due to earthquake-induced shaking of the ground,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Landfills and other waste disposal sites and their host communities are not exempt from the devastating effects of a strong quake and thus the need for emergency readiness,” she said.

“We hope that disposal facilities for Metro Manila’s wastes, including those located outside the metropolis, will take part in the MMDA-led earthquake drill for better disaster preparedness,” she added.

Metro Manila’s wastes,  according to the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission.  are dumped in various sites such as the Payatas landfill for Quezon City’s garbage; Navotas landfill, which receives waste from Malabon, Manila and Navotas; and the Rizal Provincial Landfill in Rodriguez, Rizal that serves  Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Marikina,  Muntinlupa, Parañaque,Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan and Taguig local government units (LGUs).

Other landfills in operation or under construction in adjacent LGUs include those in Norzagaray, Obando and San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and in Rodriguez and San Mateo, Rizal.

A study  by the Environmental Protection Administration of Taiwan, which like the Philippines is located in a seismic and typhoon belt,  states that  “natural disasters inflict damages on main structures and peripheral engineering” of  landfills.

According to the Taiwan EPA’s analysis of damages associated with 921 quake incidents, “earthquake magnitude 5 and over can damage landfill sites that are located in a fault or its surrounding areas.”

“Depending on the extent of damage of storage facilities (retaining walls), collapse, crack and incline of the foundation, retaining walls can get washed out, affecting the safety and leading to secondary pollutions,” the study said.

“Our analysis clearly indicates that for landfill sites struck by disasters, damages are accumulative and chain reactive; moreover, the potential hazard factors can still exist after the landfill sites are recovered,” the study pointed out.



27 July 2015

QC Health Department and Shopping Mall Lauded for Action vs Dangerous Contraband Goods

The EcoWaste Coalition commended the Quezon City Health Department and the Ever Gotesco Commonwealth Center for taking action to curb the sale of banned products that can put consumer health at risk.

In response to the complaint lodged by the watchdog group, Quezon City health personnel inspected six exhibition booths at the said mall on July 20, and confiscated items banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and those sold without market authorization.

The EcoWaste Coalition alerted the mall management about the illegal sale through a letter sent on July 14, with photos of the contraband goods on store shelves attached as evidence.

In their follow-up letter to the mall management on July 20, the EcoWaste Coalition said:  “please ensure that the products are properly confiscated and disposed of so that the same do not re-enter
the retail market again.”

“We laud the joint effort by the QC health department and the mall management that led to the seizure of contraband goods, many of which can cause life-threatening damage to health,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We hope that other shopping facilities will follow suit and join forces with our food and drug regulators and health advocates to ensure that only safe and duly registered products are sold within their premises,” he said.

Last Monday, Quezon City food and drugs regulation officers with assistance from the mall management through Assistant Mall Operations Manager Francisco Tan and Mall Detachment Commander SO Pepito Tañon conducted the inspection that netted five boxes of prohibited goods.

Among the items seized were illegal herbal medicines, skin whitening cosmetics and slimming products, including banned mercury-containing Jiaoli and S’zitang facial creams, Sehat Badan herbal drink, Leisure Burn Body Fat Orange Juice and other weight-loss products.

In her report, food and drug regulation officer Jeanette Dacanay advised the mall management “to have a proper protocol regarding products to be sold by their (concessionaires) to undergo inspection.”

According to Tañon, the exhibitors were duly reminded not to engage in selling items prohibited by the FDA, “but such advice was not seriously considered”  resulting to the confiscation of the illegal products.

“The product confiscation should serve as a clear warning against unscrupulous traders who continue to defy FDA’s product advisories and health warnings,” Dizon said.


26 July 2015

SONA 2015: EcoWaste Coalition Hopes P-Noy Will Pull A Surprise and Send Garbage Back to Canada

For anti-garbage dumping advocates, hope springs eternal.

For the EcoWaste Coalition, President Benigno S. Aquino III’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) tomorrow may yield a pleasant surprise as regards the Canadian garbage controversy if only the chief executive would listen to his bosses.

The country has been embroiled in a prolonged controversy over Canada’s refusal to re-import illegal garbage sent to the Philippines dating back to June 2013 with the influx of 55 shipping containers of mixed trash disguised as “plastic scraps”  consigned to Valenzuela City-based Chronic Plastics Inc.

Wastes from 26 of these 55 containers have been illegally dumped at a privately-owned Metro Clark landfill in Capas, Tarlac, the home province of President Aquino, provoking protests from the provincial and local government authorities and from Tarlaqueños themselves.  Metro Clark is only authorized to receive domestic wastes from Tarlac and a few areas, and not foreign wastes.

“It’s not too late for the President to correct this environmental injustice that has allowed a foreign country to dump their garbage into our territory with the consent of our customs and environmental authorities in brazen disregard of public health and safety and stubborn violation of national and international laws,” said Rene Pineda, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“At his last SONA, the President can tell the Filipino people, his bosses, that it was wrong to dump Canada’s garbage in Tarlac and that no more garbage imports will be disposed of in any landfill, incinerator or cement kiln anywhere in the country under his watch,” he suggested.

“The President can then order the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources and Finance, particularly the Environmental Management Bureau and the Bureau of Customs, to send the garbage back to Canada by all legal means,” he said.  

“It will only take a minute for the President to assure his bosses that he is with them in asserting that our country is not a global trash bin,” he pointed out.

A presidential directive calling for the return of Canada’s garbage to its origin would surely draw cheers not only from environmental justice defenders, but from all sectors of the society, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

To further assure the people that such incident would not be repeated, the EcoWaste Coalition urged P-Noy to also order a comprehensive review of existing regulations to make the importation requirements and procedures tighter for so-called recyclable materials and  proactively prevent garbage dumping from overseas. 

Private traders and  government regulators must ensure that only clean and properly sorted recyclable waste materials are sent to our country for non-toxic recycling, and not for disposal purposes, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The group also insisted that the government should ratify the 1995 amendment to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and Their Disposal, a global treaty that seeks “to protect, by strict control, human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from the generation and management of hazardous wastes and other wastes.”

The Basel Ban Amendment, as it is called, prohibits the export of hazardous waste from developed countries to developing countries.  The ban applies to export for any reason, including recycling.



25 July 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Launches First-Ever Filipino Children’s Storybook on Toxic Lead

The EcoWaste Coalition, a not-for-profit advocacy group for public health and the environment, has come up with a new tool --  a storybook -- to inform children about the dangers of toxic lead.

At the National Children’s Book Day Book Fair held today at the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University, the group launched the first-ever Filipino children’s storybook that discusses the lead hazards in a child’s environment and what can be done to avoid exposure to lead.

The pretty storybook entitled “ Ang Makulay na Bahay” (The Colorful House) was written in Filipino by Dr. Luis P.   Gatmaitan, a medical doctor and an award-winning author of children’s books, stories and essays, illustrated by graphic artist Gilbert F. Lavides and retold in English by Richard P. Nollen.

Troy Lacsamana of the Quezon City Library and Information Center dressed as “Heneral Basa,” a superhero championing a reading culture among kids and adults, read the story with gusto before an enthusiastic crowd of over 200 people, including children from poor communities.

“This storybook tackles lead poisoning, a serious global public health issue, in a simple and stimulating way from the lens of a typical Filipino family that is unaware of the chemical hazards to children’s health,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“It tells the story of how Nanay Nida’s eldest son Mardee got exposed to lead in paint and dust and how it affected his ability to learn, pay attention and interact with others, and what she and her husband Simon did to remedy the situation,” he said.

Through a story succinctly told and creatively illustrated, the storybook managed to inform how a child can get lead poisoning, particularly by playing with and biting toys that have lead in them, by sucking on their fingers after playing in the dirt or crawling on the floor, or by eating paint chips or soil that contains lead, Dizon said.

“We hope that this storybook will be widely read at homes and schools to generate public awareness on the need to consciously remove preventable sources of lead exposure in our children’s environment,” he said.

The storybook, the EcoWaste Coalition stated, will  hopefully contribute to the implementation of the government’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which among other provisions, prohibits the use of lead in the production of toys and school supplies, and phases out leaded decorative paints by 2016 and leaded industrial paints by 2019.

According to the World Health Organization, “at lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious  symptoms and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury that causes loss of cognition, shortening of attention span, alteration of behaviour, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs.”

“At high levels of acute exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death,” the WHO said. 

The storybook ends with a fact sheet on lead and lead poisoning prevention for the guidance of parents and teachers, and an activity page to help the child in identifying potential sources of lead exposure at home.

The publication of the “Ang Makulay na Bahay” was made possible through the financial assistance from the European Union, IPEN (a global civil society network for a toxics-free future) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.




22 July 2015

Groups Ask DENR to Junk “Garbage Diplomacy,” Pursue Legal Action to Compel Canada to Re-Import Its Trash

Amid a hail of brickbats and stones against the government’s handling of Canadian garbage dumping on our shores, environmental health and justice groups pressed the Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) to take legal action to oblige Canada to get back their reeking trash. 

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy urged the DENR to ditch what has been ridiculed as “garbage diplomacy” after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)at a news briefing yesterday said the DFA would support a legal action against Canada if the DENR decides to do so.

DFA spokesperson Charles Jose confirmed that the DFA sent a note verbale in 2014 to the Canadian Embassy conveying that the shipment of wastes from Canada as stated by the DENR constituted a violation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

“As DFA is clearly passing the buck and attempting to pin the blame on DENR, that leaves the latter the duty to explain to the nation why it had to decide to act inimical to the interest of the nation,” said Rene Pineda, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“DENR should refrain from arguing from the perspective of diplomacy as it is not its mandate and function, and DFA has a contrary position.  As the lead agency for environmental protection, we ask the DENR to stop mouthing a diplomatic argument and insist that our country is not Canada’s dumpsite,” he pointed out.

“We would prefer fighting and even losing for our right as a sovereign nation than suffer the dire consequences of potential hazards to health and life and be the laughing stock of the world for easily giving up our right,” he emphasized.

For her part, Dr. Angelina Galang, President of Green Convergence, said: “The ball is now in the DENR.  We urge Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to map out a robust legal strategy to get rid of the illegal garbage imports from Canada that President Benigno Aquino III can announce at his State of the Nation Address on Monday.” 

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, had earlier proposed that the government should consider the Basel Convention in negotiating with the Canadian authorities over the illegal garbage imports, saying that “the arduousness of complaint or arbitration mechanisms before an international tribunal should not hinder the government from asserting that the export of wastes from Canada violates the Basel Convention.”

To stop the recurrence of garbage dumping from overseas, the EcoWaste Coalition, Green Convergence and other environmental groups reiterated the need for the Philippine government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which seeks to prohibit exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for final disposal, reuse, recycling and recovery.


Environmental Groups Denounce Dumping of Toxic Wastes in Amadeo, Cavite

The Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition today urged the government to penalize to the full extent of the law the parties behind the dumping of 429 drums of toxic wastes in a private lot at Barangay Pangil, Amadeo, Cavite.

“We expect Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje to order the Environmental Management Bureau to file charges against VYA Trading (the transporter) and its cohorts for breach of  Republic Act 6969 as well as Republic Act 9003,” said Ochie Tolentino, Coordinator of the Cavite Green Coalition.

R.A. 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act and R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, are two of the country’s major environmental laws governing the management of wastes, including their disposal.

R.A. 6969, in particular, seeks "to monitor and regulate the importation, manufacture, processing, handling, storage, transportation, sale, distribution, use and disposal of chemical substances and mixtures that present unreasonable risk or injury to health or to the environment.”

“As this is not the first toxic waste dumping incident in our province, we urge the national and local authorities to ensure that those responsible for the foiled dumping of huge quantities of hazardous wastes in Amadeo will receive maximum fines and penalties to serve as warning to others,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino recalled that in 2011, over 60 drums of toxic wastes were illegally dumped in a private lot in Barangay Langkaan, Dasmariñas, Cavite.

Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, echoed the Cavite Green Coalition’s call for environmental justice, reiterating that “no community deserves to be poisoned.”

“The culprits should be held liable to the full extent of the law to send a clear message that environmental crime does not pay,” she said.

Both the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition commended the Amadeo local government and police authorities for their swift action that led to the discovery of the botched dumping operation.

Both groups requested all citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance to thwart attempts to dump hazardous wastes onto their communities.

“Be on the lookout for any suspicious movement of waste materials in your neighborhood and promptly report it to the authorities,” the groups suggested.


20 July 2015

Environmental and Health Watchdog Finds Toxic Lead in Kiddie Art Stickers

Stickers with lead content.
Stickers with low or non-detectable lead content.

Not all cute stickers that kids use for art and craft projects as well as for personal accessories are suitable for children due to their lead content.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health watchdog  group,  issued this observation after detecting lead, a brain-damaging chemical, in 9 out 32 sets of colorful kiddie stickers that it recently bought and checked for lead.

As part of its continuing drive to promote children’s safety from harmful chemicals, the group purchased 32 sets of stickers that are marketed for children’s leisure activities from retailers in Quiapo, Manila and Cubao, Quezon City.

The stickers feature assorted pretty designs such as popular cartoon figures, superheroes, animals and flowers, costing from P7 to P40 per set.  Each set contains from four to as much as 116 stickers.

The stickers were screened for toxic metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

“The XRF device detected lead in the range of 508 to 670 parts per million (ppm) in some of the samples way above the regulatory limits,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, art materials designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger must comply with the 90 ppm limit on lead in surface coatings and 100 ppm limit on lead in a product’s substrate.

The Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources prohibits the use of lead in the production of children’s products such as toys and school supplies.

“As there is no level of lead exposure that is deemed ‘safe’ for kids, it’s important that all preventable sources of exposure are minimized if not altogether eradicated,” Dizon.

Dizon expressed concern that young children may bite, chew or swallow the very attractive stickers and directly ingest the lead and other chemical substances present on the stickers.

“While some of the samples contain choking hazard warning, none of the samples provided lead hazard warning on the label,” he noted.

As the stickers lack chemical labeling information that should help guide consumers in picking non-toxic ones, Dizon emphasized the importance of adult supervision when children use such art materials.

According to doctors, young children are very susceptible to lead exposure due to their immature immune systems, higher metabolisms and their small size.

Their tendency to chew objects they come in contact with, including non-food items, make them at greater risk of ingesting lead.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “at lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury that causes loss of cognition, shortening of attention span, alteration of behavior, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs.”

“For the most part, these effects are permanent. They are irreversible and untreatable by modern medicine,” the WHO said.





18 July 2015

Groups Push for Food Safety Vigilance Amid String of Poisoning Incidents

In a bid to stop the series of food poisoning incidents due to the ingestion of tainted candies to school snacks, environmental and health groups called for food safety vigilance to ensure quality and safe food for all.  

“We call upon the government to uphold the safety and welfare of the consuming public by the full implementation of laws that govern the safety of food,” said Rene Pineda, President of Consumer Rights for Safe Food.

Pineda specifically pointed to the need to accelerate the effective enforcement of Republic Act 10611 and its recently promulgated Implementing Rules and Regulations.

Also known as the Food Safety Act of 2013, R.A. 10611, among other measures, aims to “establish policies and programs for addressing food safety hazards and developing appropriate standards and control measures.”

“The rise in food poisoning cases affecting young children, the most vulnerable population group, warrants the speedy implementation of R.A. 10611, including the establishment of the Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board, which is tasked to prepare crisis management plan and lead food control activities,” he added.

For his part, toxicologist Dr. Romy Quijano, President of the Pesticide Action Network – Philippines underscored the need for “vigorous public education, multisectoral dialogues on food safety issues, and the conduct of continuing monitoring programs for food manufacturers and food business operators” to prevent food poisoning incidents.

EcoWaste Coalition Coordinator Aileen Lucero identified immediate action steps that should be carried out to promote food safety vigilance among government, business and consumer stakeholders.

“We suggest that all flag-raising ceremonies across the country this coming Monday be used by government and school authorities to drum up personal and collective consciousness and action towards food safety.  It’s a good platform to disseminate policies and measures to prevent food poisoning,” she stated.

“Next week, we also hope that government officials from Health Secretary Janette Garin down to local mayors will go into the streets and conduct on-the-spot food safety inspections.  We need to see them in public to assure our people that every step is being done to guarantee public access to safe food,” she said.  

“The government should also ensure that no stone is left unturned to resolve recent food poisoning cases and that the culprits are duly penalized,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged local health departments to organize food safety seminars targeting all food business operators, including cottage food industries, school canteens, restaurants and street vendors to reiterate safe and hygienic food manufacturing and handling practices,” she added.


15 July 2015

Groups Back Tarlaqueños; Buck Canadian Garbage Disposal in Capas

Zero waste and chemical safety advocates lauded Tarlac provincial authorities and citizens’ groups for questioning the disposal of the controversy-ridden imported Canadian garbage in a landfill facility in the town of Capas.

To manifest their solidarity with the Tarlaqueños, the EcoWaste Coalition has forged links with the Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Bamban and has organized a delegation comprised of concerned environmental groups to observe the Tarlac Provincial Board meeting scheduled on Thursday.

“We stand in solidarity with the Tarlac government and people in their efforts to stop a precedent-setting disposal of illegal trash from Canada and ensure the protection of the public health and the environment.  Canada cannot simply bury the evidence of this case of gross environmental injustice in our soil and get away with it,” said Rene Pineda, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of over 100 public interest groups.

Tarlac Governor Victor Yap on Monday suspended the dumping of the illegal garbage imports from Canada at the Capas landfill owned by the Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. until the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has submitted a certification on the results of the Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS) conducted by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in November 2014. 

According to a DENR-provided summary of the WACS conducted on three of the 50 container vans, 63.94% of the Canadian garbage shipments were residuals, 33.25% recyclable mixed plastics, 2.35% recyclable mixed metals, 0.24% electronic waste and 0.23% glass bottles.    

Based on the WACS results, the DENR and the Canadian Embassy had both insisted that the controversial trash shipments “are neither toxic nor hazardous.”

Tarlac Vice-Governor Enrique Cojuangco, Jr. stated in a TV interview aired yesterday that “whether toxic or not, it is not good if another country dumps its trash in our country.” 

“We urge the Tarlac local authorities not to swallow the questionable WACS results hook, line and sinker and to reject the findings for being inconclusive in terms of giving full assurance as to the ‘safety’ of the waste materials for landfill disposal,” Pineda said.

Aside from the limited sampling size, Pineda pointed to the failure of the WACS to accurately characterize the composition of the controversial Canadian garbage.

Quoting from the government-issued “General Guidelines/Procedures in Conducting Waste Characterization Survey/Study,” Pineda said that “when analyzing solid waste composition, it is necessary to obtain the following information: total quantities of waste, bulk (density), moisture content, and composition (physical and chemical).”

The said WACS guidelines form part of Appendix A of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which also prohibits the importation of toxic wastes misrepresented as “recyclables” or with “recyclable content.”

“The most that the WACS did was to describe the physical composition of the waste samples, albeit rather limitedly.  That’s obviously inadequate to ascertain the ‘safety’ of the samples.  No assessment was done on the biological and chemical properties of the samples and their associated hazards to human health and the environment, including their potential impact to surface and ground water,” he explained.

“The heterogenous nature of the Canadian garbage shipments, which include food discards, soiled diapers, e-waste and plastics, may lead to the formation of toxic leachate later on that can pose adverse effects on health and the environment,” he pointed out.  
A study on plastics published in 2014 by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in cooperation with the EcoWaste Coalition and other environmental groups from Bangladesh, India and South Africa stated that “environmental pollutants in the form of various types of plastic additives, monomers and decomposition products risk polluting surrounding land and water.”

Among those going to Tarlac to support the provincial board meeting include Ban Toxics, Cavite Green Coalition, Consumer Rights for Safe Food, Freedom from Debt Coalition-Cebu, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Miriam PEACE, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat. 



Statement from Vice-Governor Enrique Cojuangco, Jr.:

Plastic Report:
http://www.naturskyddsforeningen.se/sites/default/files/dokument-media/rapporter/Plastic-Report.pdf (see page 37, landfill section, no.2)
Additional information re toxic leachate:
“When liquids continue to be present – or when precipitation later reenters the site – leachate is formed that drains out of the waste load, carrying with it toxic substances such as vinyl chloride, benzene and toluene which are ubiquitous in household and commercial trash.  There, at the bottom of the landfill, the dangerous effluent is poised to leak through any breaches in the liner into the underlying water table, which all too often connects to our drinking water supplies.” (Lanier Hickman, Jr., “Principles of Integrated Solid Waste Management, pp 411-412)


14 July 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Deplores Sale of FDA-Banned Products at QC Mall

Quezon City.  The EcoWaste Coalition scored tiangge stalls at a shopping mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City for selling contraband goods that have been banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to protect the public health.

Last Sunday, the group found beauty and health product stalls at Ever Gotesco Commonwealth Center  selling FDA-proscribed items such as skin whitening cosmetics, slimming and anti-obesity products and a type of cure-all herbal drink – all with no market authorization from the FDA.

The group had posted photos of the errant stalls at http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

“We find the unrestrained sale of FDA-banned products by tiangge vendors in the shopping mall very disturbing and should be halted at once,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“The mall management cannot turn a blind eye to this appalling trade of smuggled products that could cause serious harm to consumer health,” he emphasized.

“They can avoid being tagged as a silent accomplice in such illegal trade by taking immediate action,” he emphasized.

Among the banned products being offered for sale at the tiangge stalls were Jiaoli and S’zitang skin whitening facial creams, Leisure Burn Body Fat Orange Juice and several other types of slimming coffee and juice, and Sehat Badan herbal drink.

Jiaoli and S’zitang were banned for containing toxic mercury; Leisure and dozens of slimming juice and coffee products were  banned  for containing unauthorized substances such as  sibutramine, which may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke; and Sehat Badan was banned for containing diclofenac sodium, ibuprofen and paracetamol.

To curb the illegal trade, the group urged the mall management to instruct their tenants to comply with the directives issued by the FDA and desist from selling cosmetics, food supplements, medicines and weight-loss products that are not notified or registered with the FDA.

“If the stall owners choose to ignore such instruction, the mall management has the option of canceling the lease or rental agreement and reporting the stall’s non-compliance to law enforcement agencies,” Dizon said.

The EcoWaste Coalition also requested the Quezon City Health Department to undertake necessary activities that will support the implementation of FDA’s directives in their area of jurisdiction, including disseminating health warnings to stakeholders and conducting regular surveillance in both formal and informal markets.


13 July 2015

Quiapo Shoppers Warned vs. Buying Cheap Imported Food Items with Tampered Expiry Dates or Damaged Labels

Amid the spate of food poisoning incidents during the recent weeks that downed over 2,000 child victims across the country, the EcoWaste Coalition cautioned bargain shoppers against buying imported food items with dubious expiry dates or torn labels that are sold in Quiapo, Manila at rock-bottom prices.

The group, which has been raising public awareness about hazardous products and wastes and pushing for policy and law enforcement actions, issued the warning as health authorities announced a food poisoning outbreak in the Caraga Region in Mindanao due to the consumption of tainted durian candies.

“Our market monitoring in Quiapo over the weekend, particularly in Villalobos Street, shows that some vendors are selling manufactured food products with tampered expiry dates or damaged labels at incredibly low prices. Bargain hunters should exercise caution when buying cheap but adulterated or mislabelled food items that could put the health of family members, especially the kids, at grave risk," stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

For example, the manufacturing and expriry dates on the wrapper of a milk chocolate coated biscuit made in France has been erased.  The product is sold for just P20 per box of six packets.

A small pack of a popular brand of chewing gum costing P31.50 in supermarket is sold for P5 only.  However, the discounted product bears no machine-printed expiry date unlike the one sold at a formal retail store.

Another example is a pudding snack made in Taiwan that is sold for P20 per bag of 12 jelly cups with its original “best before” sticker removed.

“We also found nougat candies from Canada, mint-flavored chewing gums from China, chocolate cookies from Indonesia and fruity chews from Thailand without the automated machine-printed expiry dates,” Dizon said.

“We fear that the authenticity and safety of such food products with expiry date stickers generated from a mere tagging device could not be fully relied on and that consumers may be mistakenly consuming adulterated foods that can cause food poisoning,” he added.

“A food shall be deemed adulterated if it has passed its expiry date” under Article 23 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

“We also saw other suspicious food items such as bottled oyster sauce with its label removed, canned fruit and soup with torn labels, as well as repacked chocolate and fruit powder and three-in-one coffee with zero labelling information,” he said.

Article 40 of the Consumer Act prohibits “the adulteration or misbranding of any food” and “the alteration, mutilation, destruction, obliteration, or removal of the whole or any of the labelling of” (the product) “and results in such product being adulterated or mislabelled.”

“To prevent potential poisoning cases due to the consumption of adulterated or mislabelled food items, we urge the Manila Health Department to look into this matter and take urgent law enforcement action.  It’s best to take action now than be sorry later,” Dizon suggested.

Violators of the law’s Article 40 shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned from one to five years, or fined P5,000 but not more than P10,000, or get jailed and fined as decided by the court.




11 July 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Urges DepEd to Strengthen Food Safety Policy and Awareness in School Community Following Food Poisoning Outbreak in Mindanao

Williamor Magbanua/Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation, Kidapawan City

The food poisoning outbreak that downed over 1,600 pupils in Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and North Cotabato should trigger a thorough review of existing food safety regulations and practices within and outside the immediate school premises.

“The poisoning of hundreds of young students in Mindanao, which got wide coverage in local and international press including the CNN and New York Times, justifies the strengthening of national and local food safety regulations and their enforcement, as well as the provision of more effective food safety education targeting members of the school community,” said Sonia Mendoza, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watchdog group promoting a healthy and safe children’s environment.

Citing report from the Department of Health in Caraga Region, Mendoza said that 1,665 public elementary and high school students fell ill last Friday after consuming tainted durian candies sold by ambulant vendors.

She also cited food poisoning reports last week affecting 44 students from Kidapawan City Pilot Elementary School and 16 students from Dualing Elementary School in Aleosan, North Cotabato who experienced vomiting and abdominal pains after eating durian candies and siopao, respectively.

From June 7 to July 10 this year, close to 2,000 food poisoning victims across the country, mostly students of public elementary schools, were rushed to hospitals after consuming adulterated, contaminated or expired food and beverage, noted the EcoWaste Coalition.

 address this alarming wave of food poisoning episodes involving young children in public elementary schools, we urge the Department of Education to update its current food safety guidelines in line with Republic Act 10611 and to conduct food safety awareness programs in coordination with other national government agencies and with local government units, barangay councils and parent-teacher associations,” Mendoza suggested.

Considering the number of student victims during the last two months, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested that DepEd should consider undertaking massive food safety awareness-raising activities at the start of the academic year for all stakeholders.

R.A. 10111, or the Food Safety Act of 2013, seeks to strengthen the food safety regulatory system in the Philippines in order to, among other objectives, “protect the public from food-borne and water-borne illnesses and unsanitary, unwholesome, misbranded or adulterated foods.”  The law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations were adopted in February 2015. 

DepEd Orders No. 52, Series of 2008, No. 7, Series of 2007 and No. 14, Series of 2005 could be strengthened and even broadened to promote and ensure children’s access to safe, healthy, nutritious and affordable foods being offered for sale to school children, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“As we wait for the issuance of strengthened DepEd’s food safety regulations and guidelines, we appeal to food business operators, consignees and vendors to stick to basic food safety rules and prevent food poisoning events from happening again,” Mendoza noted.


09 July 2015

“Stop Payatas dump operation and expansion,” QC told

9 July 2015. Quezon City. A day before the 15th year commemoration of the ill-famed tragic Payatas trash slide, zero waste advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition and the Payatas-based Alyansa ng mga Samahang Nagkakaisa sa Payatas (ASNP) told the Quezon City government to stop the landfill’s operation and expansion.

Leonita Panoy, President of the ASNP, said in her own tongue that “Everyday tons and tons of mixed wastes are dumped in Payatas creating what is now a mountain of trash that lets out into the air and into our homes the stinking smell that we are very familiar with since it was still called an open dump.”

Panoy, better known in their community as Ka Nita, is one of the survivors of the disastrous Payatas trash slide in July 2000, which took almost 300 lives and rendered 300 more missing and thousands homeless.

“Our constant exposure to this mountain of garbage is giving us headaches, stomach aches, skin ailments, and diarrhea, among many other health issues,” she added.

Panoy also said that quarrying by the landfill contractor in the area to obtain soil cover had resulted in the cutting of more or less 150 trees adding to the degradation of the environment and increasing the risk of another trash slide, seeing that the country is now experiencing typhoons.

For his part, Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo, EcoWaste Coalition Steering Committee member and NGO representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, said “If QC will only pursue honest ecological solid waste management aimed at genuine intensified waste diversion in all of its barangays, then we should see a decrease in the volume of waste entering Payatas dump, a.k.a. sanitary landfill. In that case, QC’s business would have to be on its closure and not expansion.”

“Waste diversion”, according to RA 9003, refers to “activities which reduce or eliminate the amount of solid waste from waste disposal facilities.”

“An increase in waste diversion rate; that’s what Quezon City should bear in mind for it is the intent of Republic Act 9003, known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” explained Hidalgo.

Section 20 of RA 9003 directs LGUs to increase waste diversion rate every 3 years from the initial 25% diversion rate during the first 5 years of the law’s implementation which took effect almost 15 years ago.

EcoWaste Coalition maintained that “Dumping, in whatever form will merely perpetuate the throwaway culture which even no other than Pope Francis abhors.”

“On the other hand, RA 9003 directs the country toward diversion of waste from disposal sites, which could be accomplished through waste avoidance and minimization, segregation at source, composting, reusing, recycling, and the listing and phasing out of non-environment-friendly products and packaging,” continued the coalition.

The Payatas dumpsite infamy grew to heights when on 10 July 2000, a wall of trash from the mountain of mixed garbage avalanched burying peoples and homes underneath the city’s refuse.

Since then, the dump was renamed controlled disposal facility. In recent years, QC government extended the disposal site and called it sanitary landfill.