30 April 2016

Three Presidential Bets to Help Informal Waste Workers Rise from Poverty

Presidential aspirants Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Mar Roxas, if elected, will carry out measures to improve the plight of the country’s army of informal waste workers.

The three candidates unveiled their thoughts to help impoverished informal recyclers through the responses they provided to the questions on wastes and toxics asked by the EcoWaste Coalition, a chemical safety and zero waste advocacy group.  The other two candidates, Jejomar Binay and Rodrigo Duterte, did not respond to the questions sent.

They were asked by the group about their plans to ensure that the informal waste workers are duly recognized for their contributions to the environment and the economy, and are provided with safe and secured jobs.

As per government definition the informal waste sector includes individuals, families, groups or small enterprises engaged in the recovery of waste materials to generate income.  They work under substandard and unhealthy conditions with no social and economic security and with limited access to basic services.

“Waste workers will benefit from the grant-for work program my administration will introduce to complement the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.  Through this initiative, we will indirectly formalize waste workers by enlisting them as agents contracted by the state,” Santiago said.

“The outcome of research and development funds that we will funnel to recycling and composting innovation is also expected to create job opportunities for waste workers,” the candidate of the People’s Reform Party added.

For Poe, “the economic and social contributions of the sector in reducing collection and disposal costs must be recognized and incorporated as part of the framework of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, and Redesign (5Rs) that governs waste management at the local level.” 

“Once the waste recovery activities of the informal waste sector are integrated into mainstream waste management, it must be ensured that they are given access to health services and education, as well as protective gear such as gloves and face masks to protect them from diseases due to their exposure to various types of biodegradable and chemical wastes, through a joint circular from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” she said.

“Alternative livelihood opportunities must be provided for the informal waste sector, such as the establishment of recycling cooperatives, facilitating access to affordable finance to enable investment in micro and small enterprises, and providing skills development,” added Poe who is running under the Partido Galing at Puso.

According to Roxas of the Daang Matuwid Coalition, “the informal sector plays a very important role in recovering much of the usable portions of the waste and must be integrated into the formal solid waste management system of the  local government units (LGUs) to maximize the recovery of compostable, recyclables and reusable portions of the waste.”

“At the same time, through their integration, they will have access to health care services and other social services,” he pointed out.

“LGUs will be encouraged to make them part of the formal solid waste management program of the city/municipality and mobilize them to maximize waste recovery in the Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), which all LGUs are mandated by RA 9003 to set up,” he said.   

Roxas stressed that “budgets set aside for waste hauling should be recast to provide budgets for waste recovery instead.”


29 April 2016

Watchdog Gives Thumbs Up to Grace and Miriam for Upholding Incineration Ban, Scores Mar’s Pro-Incineration Stance

Presidential candidates Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor Santiago earned praises from a waste and pollution watchdog group for their strong positions upholding the incineration ban.

The EcoWaste Coalition lauded the two women presidential aspirants for their clear-cut stance to enforce the ban on waste incineration that is enshrined in two major environmental laws: Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act, and Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Through a questionnaire on wastes and toxics, the group asked presidential wannabes what steps they would take to stem the continuing violation of the incineration ban under the said laws, as well as the initiatives they would embark on to strengthen both laws.

In her response, Partido Galing at Puso candidate Poe, without mincing words, stated “only technologies that do not constitute incineration will be approved,” adding that she will “shut down existing incinerators that managed to circumvent the incineration ban.”

Candidate Santiago of the People’s Reform Party stated she will “immediately rescind the guideline that allows waste-to-energy facilities” to burn trash to generate electricity.  

The guideline, which is being crafted by the National Solid Waste Management Commission, drew ire of environmentalists as this will undermine the incineration ban and open the floodgates to burn technologies.  

On the other hand, the group found the response of Daang Matuwid candidate Mar Roxas disappointingly pro-incineration.

Roxas said that “as a general rule, laws must not ban technologies,” citing that “the Supreme Court decision has clarified that what is banned is incineration that emits toxic fumes,”  which  he said “must be strictly enforced.”

Contrary to his views, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed there is no such thing as a pollution-free incinerator and that such facilities, including their modern variants inevitably emit noxious and carcinogenic pollutants to the environment either via the smokestack or the ash generated by the combustion process.  

The group added that the views propounded by Roxas on the issue are exactly the same ones being used by incinerator pushers to circumvent the incineration ban.

To generate energy, Poe will “pursue energy diversification, focusing on renewables, geothermal, and natural gas, to eliminate the need for waste-to-energy facilities, reduce our dependence on coal and oil, and prevent or reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”

Poe also pledged to “strengthen the campaign for proper waste segregation (5Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Redesign) at the barangay level to achieve zero waste or reduce residual waste that will be transported to sanitary landfills.”

“Strengthening waste segregation will create opportunities to build cooperatives and enterprises around composting, recycling, repairing, reusing, and repurposing of discards, and reduce residual waste that make their way to landfills,” she explained.

Santiago added she will “pursue the use of waste for renewable energy, but will limit such efforts to biomass.”

Santiago pointed out that the “slow movement toward the goals of the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act is an implementation issue.” 

“My government will address this, first by determining baseline data to identify appropriate strategies and to more effectively monitor progress. It will also help us know the costs of planned programs, so that we can identify alternative options, if necessary,” she said.

Finally, the EcoWaste Coalition lamented the ironic absence of responses to the survey from Vice President Jejomar Binay and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte whose long experiences  running their respective cities should have given them more informed  perspectives on how to tackle the waste crisis responsibly.


27 April 2016

Green Groups Woo Voters to Back Pro-Environment Poll Bets

Green groups today asked the electorate to back candidates who will protect the public health and the environment as the May 9 poll campaign enters the home stretch.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group championing the people’s right to chemical safety and healthy environment, led the call for a “green choice” at a creative voters’ education drive at Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

Through a short play, children and  youth  belonging to Buklod Tao-Kabataan, Maskara-Green Stage Filipinas and Junior Chamber International-QC emphasized  the dire need for voters to pick candidates who genuinely care for the health of humans and the ecosystems. 

“We need women and men in public service who will stand for and defend our Mother Earth against greed, corruption, waste and pollution, as well as inaction.  Voters should rally behind them and make them win,” stated Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Please know your candidates and back those who you trust will take care of the environment,” she advised. 

“Failing to do so will make the environmental issues facing our nation, as well as their impacts to health and economy, even worse,” she warned.

Some of the issues highlighted in the play were the ever growing volume and toxicity of discards generated by the households and industries,  the illegal trash shipments from Canada and the proliferation of hazardous chemicals, products and wastes.

In the first tableau, performers were seen complaining about the widespread open dumping and open burning of trash across the country that is contaminating the environment with toxic pollutants and making people sick.

In the second tableau, performers were seen encouraging the electorate to pick for pro-environment candidates who will shut down illegal dumpsites, uphold the incineration ban, ship back the Canadian garbage and protect the people from toxic harm.

While it did not name the pro-environment candidates that the people should vote for, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to consider the results of the various civil society efforts to analyze and grade the environmental stance and track record of candidates,  especially those running for national positions.

Last week, the Green Vote 2016 Campaign, the  Green Thumb Coalition and the Luntiang Bayan released their respective environmental scorecards, particularly for  candidates eyeing the presidency.


25 April 2016

Presidential Candidates Vow to Enforce Waste Law (Grace Poe to chair first meeting of the National Solid Waste Management Commission in first 100 days of her presidency)

Three presidential contenders have revealed their immediate action agenda for the first 100 days, if elected, to address the nation’s perennial battle with garbage.

Responding to a question sent by the EcoWaste Coalition, a zero waste and climate justice advocacy group, Sen. Grace Poe, former Sec. Mar Roxas and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago vowed to initiate measures to promote and secure compliance by local government units (LGUs) to R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Candidates Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of PDP-LABAN and Vice-President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance did not respond to the group’s nine-point questionnaire on wastes and toxics.

“Since the National Solid Waste Management Commission(NSWMC) is under the Office of the President, I will co-chair its first meeting in my first 100 days in office with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and set its agenda towards effective waste prevention and reduction across the country,” declared Poe of Partido Galing at Puso.

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that a meeting of the NSWMC co-chaired by the President and DENR Secretary has never happened before since R.A. 9003 took effect in 2001 and could surely energize the work of Commission, which plays a pivotal role in the implementation of the law.  

Poe, who provided the most extensive reply among the respondents, said “the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary will, on behalf of the President, exercise its disciplinary power of general supervision over LGUs to exact compliance,” adding that “incentives and financial support will be provided as carrots to assist in compliance.”

Poe provided a sneak peek of her plan to bolster the implementation of R.A. 9003, including creating a nationwide communication strategy, establishing barangay-level materials recovery facilities, providing incentives for households that practice waste segregation, increasing the manpower and budget of the Environmental Ombudsman Team and making available the “Seal of Good Local Governance” scorecard to citizens to promote accountability among government officials.

Former Sec. Mar Roxas, the standard bearer of the Daang Matuwid Coalition said that he “will mobilize the DILG to do an audit of the compliance of LGUs to requirements of R.A. 9003, task the agency to work closely with the Environmental Ombudsman in filing the necessary charges against those found violating the law, and ensure step-in powers for the NSWMC once an LGU is unable to provide for the proper waste disposal facilities.”

Roxas added that “the existing performance evaluation systems of LGUand performance incentives being provided to LGUs must include compliance to R.A. 9003 as a criteria.

“My administration will support the prosecution of cases against LGUs that fail to close dumpsites as required by R.A. 9003," promised Santiago of the People's Reform Party. 

"But besides suing LGUs, we must also help them implement the law. The fact that 50 LGUs have failed to close dumpsites indicates either negligence on the part of local officials or impracticability of the law,” she observed. 

According to Santiago, one possible reason for the continued operation of dumpsites is the fact that many LGUs lack segregation, composting, and recycling facilities. 

“To remedy this problem, my administration will facilitate the implementation of recycling and composting programs at the barangay level,” she said. 

For her first budget proposal to Congress, Santiago will include a research and development allocation equivalent to one percent of the gross domestic product. 

“This budget will include DENR grants to barangays that can submit feasibility studies on recycling and composting innovations,” she added.


23 April 2016

Presidential Candidates Weigh In On Canadian Garbage Dumping Controversy

Presidential candidates Grace Poe, Mar Roxas and Miriam Defensor Santiago, if elected, will take specific measures to solve the long-drawn-out Canadian garbage scandal and prevent it from recurring.

In their response to the question put forward by the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog group, the three presidential aspirants specified measures that she or he will do in her/his first 100 days in office to ensure that the illegal waste shipments from Canada are sent back.

“If  elected,  I  will  invoke  the  Basel  Convention  to  force  Canada  to  take  back  the  trash it dumped on Philippine soil,” stated Santiago of the People’s Reform Party.

The Basel Convention, which the Philippines ratified in 1993, seeks to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, particularly the transboundary movements of such wastes between nations.

Santiago, who filed two resolutions at the Senate pertaining to the Canadian garbage dumping, emphasized “we must not process the waste in the Philippines, as it sets a dangerous precedent.”

“If we allow one country to turn the Philippines into a garbage dump, we are telling all other countries that they can do the same,” she pointed out.

Unlike outgoing President Benigno S. Aquino III, pro-administration “Daang Matuwid” bet Roxas was categorical in asking the Canadian government to ship back their garbage “at the soonest time possible.”

“While these were imported by a private company, they would not have reached the Philippines without clearance from concerned Canadian authorities. The Canadian government must be asked to assume equal responsibility to remove these waste materials from the Philippines at the soonest time possible,” he said.  

“We will task the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to send an official letter to Canada demanding them to take back all these containers which were imported in violation of Philippine laws and the Basel Convention,” he added.

For her part, Poe of the “Partido Galing at Puso” said her administration will “facilitate bilateral talks with the Canadian government to repatriate the wastes back to Canada.” 

She also said that she will “take immediate steps to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment to ensure clean production and no hazardous wastes are shipped from developed countries to developing countries for any reason.”

The Basel Ban Amendment is a revision to the Basel Convention that seeks to prohibit exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for final disposal, reuse, recycling and recovery.

While Mayor Rodrigo Duterte failed to reply to the question sent by the EcoWaste Coalition, the PDP-Laban candidate had strongly spoken against the illegal entry of Canadian trash.  

He had suggested to Aquino to file a diplomatic protest against Canada over the garbage shipments.

Like Duterte, Vice-President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance did not respond to nine-point questionnaire on wastes and toxics that the EcoWaste Coalition sent to the five presidential bets.

Moreover, Santiago stressed that “the task of protecting the country from illicit or unwanted shipments rests on the shoulders of the Bureau of Customs (BOC),” adding that “in a way, the issue of imported trash from Canada is a corruption issue.”

“The BOC is so corrupt that it cannot perform its functions properly. The solution there is to appoint a few good men to run the BOC and for Malacañang to stop meddling with the bureau. Corruption at the BOC will cease only if not tolerated by Palace officials,” she said.


1.  This is the question that the EcoWaste Coalition asked presidential candidates to answer  regarding the Canadian garbage controversy.  This is part of the group’s nine-point questionnaire on wastes and toxics that the group sent to the presidential bets on March 30, 2016:

Between 2013-2014, a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage disguised as scrap plastics for recycling were illegally imported from Canada.  Twenty six of these garbage-filled containers were unlawfully disposed of at a landfill in Tarlac in 2015 until halted by angry citizens and officials.  If you get elected as President, what action will you do during your first 100 days in office to ensure that the illegal waste shipments from Canada are sent back?  What will you do to ensure that such appalling dumping incident does not ever happen again?  Will you support the rapid ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment?

2.  Sen. Grace Poe also mentioned that her administration will “pursue legal measures against Chronic Plastics owner Adelfa Eduardo and the company’s customs brokers Leonora Flores and Sherjun Saldon in violation of Republic Act 6969 (“Act to Control Toxic Substances and Hazardous Nuclear Wastes” and the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) with regard to the illegal importation of waste.”

3.  Former Sec. Mar Roxas also said: “Moreover, if the Basel Ban Amendment will strengthen efforts to regulate trans-boundary transport of toxic and hazardous waste, then we will support its immediate ratification. This, however, may not be enough as it only covers toxic and hazardous waste trans-boundary shipment. Shipment of garbage materials for final disposal need to also be closely monitored by the Bureau of Customs.”

4.  In her response, Sen. Santiago cited the following provision from the Basel Convention:

“In case of a transboundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes deemed to be illegal traffic as the result of conduct on the part of the exporter or generator, the State of export shall ensure that the wastes in question are: (a) taken back by the exporter or the generator or, if necessary, by itself into the State of export, or, if impracticable, (b) are otherwise disposed of in accordance with the provisions of this Convention, within 30 days from the time the State of export has been informed about the illegal traffic or such other period of time as States concerned may agree. To this end the Parties concerned shall not oppose, hinder or prevent the return of those wastes to the State of export.”

22 April 2016

Watchdog Welcomes New FDA Advisory Reiterating Ban on Five Cosmetic Preservatives

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watchdog group promoting consumer and environmental health, welcomed the government’s latest advisory to protect consumers from five types of parabens used as preservatives in cosmetics. 

On Tuesday, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) issued Advisory No. 2016-032 reiterating the ban on  five parabens, namely: benzylparaben, isobutylyparaben, isopropylparaben, pentylparaben and phenylparaben.

The FDA’s action is in line with the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, which has added the above named parabens in the “list of substances which must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products” in November 2014.

According to the FDA, “cosmetic products found to contain any of the five identified banned ingredients pose potential health risk to the consuming public and therefore, shall not be allowed to be placed or to remain in the Philippine market starting 1 January 2016.” 

“We support FDA’s effort to have cosmetics containing banned parabens withdrawn from the market ,” declared Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.    

“Pharmacies, supermarkets and cosmetics specialty stores should cease from selling such products that can put consumer health and safety at risk,” he said.   

Despite being given sufficient grace period that ended on 31 December 2015, the EcoWaste Coalition lamented that some sectors of the cosmetics industry have failed to comply with the said prohibition.

Test buys conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on various occasions from January to April, 2016 revealed that over 35 skin care, hair care and foot care cosmetics containing isobutylparaben and/or isopropyl paraben, which are among the five banned parabens, are being sold in popular retail outlets in Metro Manila. 

Most recently, the group was shocked to find 10 types of UK-manufactured “Beauty Formulas” listing isobutylparaben as an ingredient, noting that it  would be illegal to sell these items even in UK and the European Union where the ban on the five parabens took effect much earlier in July 2015.

Under the European Commission Regulation (EU) NO. 358/2014, cosmetics circulating in Europe should not contain any of the banned parabens from 30 July 2015.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged  the FDA to watch out for any attempt to illegally dispose of remaining stocks of non-compliant products by selling them at rock bottom prices.

“The authorities should take swift action against recalcitrant manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers selling cosmetics laced with banned parabens,” the group said.




20 April 2016

DOE, PLIA Urged to Back PH Ratification of Mercury Pact

A local green coalition prodded key energy players to support the country’s ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury ahead of the observance of the Earth Day this Friday.

In separate letters sent to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Zenaida Monsada and to Philippine Lighting Industry Association (PLIA)  President Jesus Pineda, Jr., the EcoWaste Coalition urged both to support the treaty, which seeks to protect human health and the environment from toxic mercury.

Signed by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje in October 2013, the treaty intends to reduce global mercury pollution by reducing mercury supply and trade, phasing out or phasing down mercury-containing products and by controlling mercury emissions and releases.

While most agencies have provided the DENR with their respective certificates of concurrence, the DOE has yet to express its agreement with the move to get the treaty ratified, the group noted.

“DOE’s failure to issue its certificate of concurrence is slowing down DENR’s initiative to have the treaty ratified and subsequently concurred to by the Senate,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“Knowing DOE’s efforts to address mercury pollution, particularly from the improper disposal of busted fluorescent lamps, we see no reason for the department to hold back its support for the treaty ratification,” she said.

“The safe management of used fluorescent lamps is very important as these lamps can release significant amounts of mercury (including inhalable hazardous mercury vapor) when the bulb is broken, thrown in regular trash bins or disposed of in landfills or incinerators,” she pointed out.

The group noted that DOE issued a Joint Administrative Order JAO No. 2013-09-2001 with DENR establishing extended producer responsibility for mercury-containing lamps, as well as piloted a lamp waste recycling facility with mercury recovery.

The group clarified to both the DOE and the PLIA that the mercury treaty does not entirely ban mercury-containing lighting products, but seeks to phase out and ban those containing excess mercury. 

Specifically, Article 4 of the treaty provides for the phase-out by 2020 of the following lamp types above a certain limit of mercury:  compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) equal to or less than 30 watts containing more than 5 mg mercury per bulb, linear fluorescent bulbs - triband lamps less than 60 watts and containing greater than 5 mg mercury, halophosphate lamps less than 40 watts and containing greater than 10 mg mercury, high pressure mercury vapor lamps, mercury in a variety of cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) and external electrode fluorescent lamps (EEFL).

“As our country does not manufacture mercury-containing lamps, but relies solely on imported finished products, we believe fluorescent lamp importers and distributors should have no problem asking their suppliers for products that meet the teary requirements,” Lucero said.

“The local lighting industry should have no difficulty sourcing compliant products since all well-meaning lamp manufacturers who would like to stay in business are expected to follow the treaty provisions,” she said.  

“In fact,  leading lighting companies are not only reducing the mercury content in fluorescent lamps, but also expanding the production of energy- efficient lamps containing no mercury such as light-emitting diode (LED) lights,” she added.

Twenty-five countries have so far ratified the treaty, which requires at least 50 ratifications to enter into force.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1101 Quezon City, Philippines
Phone/Fax: 4411846  E-Mail: info@ecowastecoalition.org
Website: http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

18 April 2016

Archdiocese of Manila Urged to Go for Lead-Free Paints

A waste and toxic watchdog group today asked Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle to require the use of lead-free paints for church-related construction and renovation projects in the Archdiocese of Manila.

Through a letter sent today, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the Archbishop of Manila to adopt a “Lead-Safe Paint Procurement Policy” to protect young children, as well as women of child-bearing age and workers, against the harmful effects of being exposed to lead - one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” identified by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the WHO, “lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children… estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children developing intellectual disabilities every year” worldwide.

“There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” the WHO reminded.

“Recognizing your authentic concern for the health and well-being of your flock, we highly encourage you to set a clear guidance to the church engineering and purchasing departments that only certified lead safe paints will be purchased or used for all approved construction and renovation projects,” wrote Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Adopting such a policy will send a concrete message that the church leadership is taking concrete action to proactively prevent lead exposure among its employees, contractors and the general public,” she said. 

The group made the recommendation following Tagle’s issuance of Circular No. 2016-05 outlining new procedures for the construction and renovation of structures and institutions owned or affiliated with the Archdiocese of Manila.

The said directive is applicable to construction and renovation projects in parishes, chapels, diocesan schools, dormitories, formation and retreat centers, cemeteries and other properties of the archdiocese.

“Our drive to encourage major paint consumers such as churches and schools complements our effort to secure industrial compliance to the government regulation phasing out leaded architectural, decorative and household paints by January 1, 2017 and leaded industrial paints by 1 January 2020,” Lucero said.

The  phase-out deadlines for leaded paints are provided for under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24 (also known as the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds).

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the closure of two diocesan schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago, USA due to high lead levels in the school premises to justify its push for a lead-free environment in the country's educational system.

Citing reports from Chicago Tribune, the group recalled the closure of St. Elizabeth School in 2015 and the Holy Angels Catholic School in 2016 due to lead in paint and dust, which are major sources of childhood lead poisoning.

Using only lead safe paints in church projects will also make the maintenance, repair and redecoration of painted surfaces simpler and less hazardous, minimize the dispersal of lead-contaminated dust, and avoid the costs associated with lead paint abatement, the group stated. 

The group insisted that implementing a lead-safe paint procurement policy is “totally doable” because of the market availability of paints with no lead added.

The group noted that major paint manufacturers have already stopped using lead as raw material for their products, while other paint companies are transitioning to non-lead substitutes for their oil-based products.  

Water-based paints generally do not contain lead and are widely obtainable in the market, the group said.




16 April 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Finds More Cosmetics with Banned Preservative

10 of the 14 cosmetics that had isobutylparaben as listed ingredient,

The EcoWaste Coalition today reported finding more cosmetics in violation of a government regulation prohibiting the use of isobutylparaben, a preservative, in 14 cosmetic products.

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), following the decision by the ASEAN Cosmetics Committee in 2014, banned  the use of isobutylparaben and four other parabens in cosmetics effective December 31, 2015.

In a bid to help the FDA in enforcing the said regulation, the group conducted yet another round of retail market monitoring on April 10, 13 and 14 to check if cosmetic companies have recalled products containing the banned parabens as required by FDA Advisory 2015-014.

According to the said advisory, “companies or persons responsible for placing cosmetic products in the market, which are found to be out of specifications shall be subject to appropriate legal actions.”

“We have found 14 more products listing isobutylparaben as ingredient in clear defiance of the FDA directive,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The non-compliant items, mostly skin care, hair care and foot care products, are sold in legitimate, not dubious, retail outlets, he said.

“Despite the year-long grace period given by the FDA to ensure industry compliance, some cosmetics manufacturers, importers and distributors are obviously not abiding by the government regulation,” he said.

Dizon noted that 10 of the 14 non-compliant products were imported from UK, which, as a member state of the European Union, should no longer be selling cosmetics with isobutylparaben as ingredient.

“If these 10 products would be illegal to sell in Europe, why are they being sold in the Philippines?,” Dizon asked.

The European Commission in 2014 added five parabens, including isobutylparaben, in the list of substances prohibited in cosmetic products due to the lack of data necessary for their safety re-assessment.

Under the Commission Regulation (EU) NO. 358/2014, cosmetics circulating in Europe should not contain any of the banned parabens from July 30, 2015.

The EcoWaste Coalition had already reported its findings to the FDA through the Center for Cosmetic Regulation and  Research 





Additional Information:

The 14 cosmetic products with isobutylparaben as ingredient as indicated on product labels include 10 items from UK-based Beauty Formulas, namely:  Aloe Fresh Replenishing Moisture Cream, Avocado Oil Treatment Wax, Cocoa Butter Body Conditioning Cream, Deep Action Pore Cleanser, Deep Penetrating Softening Foot Lotion, Honey & Almond Facial Scrub, Honey Treatment Wax,  Oil & Shine Control Moisturiser, On the Spot Treatment, and Regenerating Hand Cream.

The other products found to contain isobutylparaben as listed ingredient were Caronia Hand & Foot Care Nourishing Crème (Green Tea Scent),  Ocean Potion Extreme Tanning Xcelerator Spray Gel, Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sea Plant Botanicals (Babies & Sensitive)  and Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sea Plant Botanicals (Kids) .

14 April 2016

Precautionary Approach Critical on Waste Containing Nanomaterials


(Geneva) – In today’s Declaration on Waste Containing Nanomaterials, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), ECOS, and the Oeko-Institut emphasize the importance of adopting and implementing preventive measures to protect people and the environment from possible hazards of manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) in waste streams. With the toxicity of nanomaterials still largely unknown, a tight control of waste containing MNMs is crucial.

Over 80 signatories worldwide from civil society groups and research organizations have endorsed the Declaration, demonstrating overwhelming support for the demand to categorize waste containing manufactured nanomaterials as hazardous waste. This is necessary to better control disposal routes of such waste in order to limit human and environmental exposure to MNM. In addition, the Declaration calls for waste reduction at the source, full producer responsibility, and the creation of a public EU nano-product register.
“From creation to use to disposal, there are far too many unknowns to flood the market with unregulated nanomaterials. The precautionary principle must be applied immediately to avoid toxic exposure from nanomaterials, including in waste streams,” says David Azoulay, Director of the Environmental Health Program at CIEL. “The risks are just too great to ignore.”
“A nano-product register at the EU level is necessary for both industry and authorities to identify the origins and destinations of waste flows of products containing MNM,” stresses Andreas Hermann, Senior Scientist at Oeko-Institut.
A report published by the OECD in February 2016, Nanomaterials in Waste Streams: Current Knowledge on Risks and Impacts, underpins the Declaration’s call to limit the potential presence of nanotechnology in waste streams.
The Declaration coincides with the standardization activities on lifecycle and waste aspects of nanomaterials underway within the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). It is also particularly relevant in the context of the Circular Economy discussions within the European Union, as well as other equivalent processes worldwide, such as 3Rs in China and the Sound Material Society in Japan.
The Declaration on Waste Concerning Nanomaterials addresses all relevant actors throughout the value chain of nanomaterials: governments, research institutions, funding agencies, and companies.  
ECOS Senior Policy Officer Doreen Fedrigo-Fazio highlights: “Nano content in waste must be taken into account by waste generators. The long delays in revising the REACH Annexes are exacerbated by the absence of waste policy addressing nanomaterials, thus multiplying the challenges.” 
The Declaration is one of the outcomes of a three-year collaboration between ECOS, CIEL, and Oeko-Institut working towards expanding the understanding of nanomaterials and bridging the gap between policy and science. It was reinforced by a workshop in Brussels in December 2015 that looked into the lifecycle aspects of nanomaterials.
The Declaration is now open to the public for additional organization sign-ons. As this occurs, an updated list of support for theDeclaration will be published in the coming months.
CIEL Media Contact:
David Azoulay, Geneva Managing Attorney & Environmental Health Program Director.
Mobile +41 78 75 78 756, or dazoulay@ciel.org .
ECOS Media Contact:
Honey Kohan, ECOS Communications Officer
Tel: +32 2 893 08 64, honey.kohan@ecostandard.org
Oeko-Institut Media Contact:
Andreas Hermann, Senior Scientist.
Mobile +49 6151 8191 158, or a.hermann@oeko.de .
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Watchdog Pushes for Lead-Safe Schools as Phase-Out of Leaded Architectural Paints Looms

A watchdog group exhorted the Department of Education (DepEd) to ensure that only lead-safe paints are used in decorating all school buildings nationwide as the yearly “Brigada Eskwela” nears.  

Through a letter sent to Education Secretary Armin Luistro, the EcoWaste Coalition urged DepEd to issue a Department Order that will make it obligatory for schools to use only lead-safe paints.

“We seek Secretary Luistro’s support to reduce, if not eliminate, major sources of lead pollution in children’s environment such as lead-containing paint and dust.  Lead is hazardous to health, it is particularly harmful for a child’s developing brain and body,” Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group’s vigorous drive towards lead-safe schools is in anticipation of the phase-out of lead-containing architectural, decorative and household paints by 1 January 2017 as per Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24.

“While the phase-out will only take effect in January next year, we find it extremely important that all schools take the deliberate decision now not to use lead-containing paints and ensure a lead-safe school environment for healthy and bright children,” Lucero said. 

“We hope that the directive will be released soon to serve as guidance for the schools and their community of donors and supporters for the Brigada Eskwela on May 30 to June 4,” she added.

The requested Department Order will be in sync with DepEd’s mission of promoting a child-friendly school environment where students can obtain quality basic education they deserve, as well as with the 15-point “Human Rights Agenda for Chemical Safety” adopted by the Commission on Human Rights,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

For the group, the Department Order should make it mandatory for schools to use only lead-safe coatings for painting and/or repainting school structures and fixtures (e.g., buildings, classrooms, offices, windows, doors and gates), amenities (e.g., libraries, laboratories, canteens, clinics, covered courts and playgrounds),  furniture (e.g., chairs, tables and cabinets) and learning materials (e.g., blackboards and teaching aids, including school supplies and toys)  used in all elementary and secondary educational institutions.

It should also apply to paints directly procured by the school, as well as those sourced by other means such as through individual, group, corporate or local government donations,” the group added.  

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. and Davies Paints Philippines, Inc. have successfully transitioned to non-lead paint production, while other companies are on their way to switching to non-lead additives for oil-based (enamel) paints in compliance with DENR A.O. 2013-14.

It added that water-based paints, which are extensively available in the market, do not contain lead additives.

Aside from directly protecting vulnerable children from being exposed to lead early in life, the proposed policy will also make the maintenance, repair and renovation of painted surfaces simpler and less hazardous and avoid the exorbitant costs associated with lead paint abatement and removal, as well as reduce the hazardous content of construction debris, the EcoWaste Coalition explained.

Citing information from the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (a joint initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization), the group pointed out that young children may inhale or ingest lead-containing paint chips, dust or soil as lead paint deteriorates over time.

The WHO has stated “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered to be safe,” stressing that “childhood lead poisoning can have lifelong health impacts, including: learning disabilities, anemia, and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial and language skills.”

Lead is one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” according to WHO.