30 March 2016

Environmental Watchdog Lists Questions to Ask Presidential Hopefuls on Wastes and Toxics

http://media.philstar.com/images/the-philippine-star/nation/20160219/00-presidents.jpg


Finding their views on environmental concerns at the last presidential debate in Cebu wanting, a watchdog group today asked aspiring successors of President Benigno S. Aquino III to tell the public how really green, or grey, they are.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the electoral advocacy group Green Thumb Coalition, has prepared nine questions on some of the burning issues pertaining to wastes and toxics for the presidential hopefuls to ponder and answer. 

Among the issues covered were the closure of illegal dumpsites, the violation of the ban on waste incineration, the Canadian garbage scandal, the need for safe and secured jobs for the informal waste sector, the “plasticization” of the oceans, the health and environmental threats from e-waste, cadmium pollution, publicly access to environmental data from industrial facilities and the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

“By asking these questions, we hope to draw out the candidates’ views, as well as solutions, on some of the ‘hot’ waste and toxic issues facing our nation today,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.


“The time and space limits of the presidential debate may have restricted the panellists from asking these questions and hindered the candidates from delving on them,” she noted.

“This is a good opportunity for the presidential contenders to communicate to the voters how green or grey they are, and we hope they will respond on or before April 7,” she added.

Below are the questions sent by the EcoWaste Coalition to the presidential bets via e-mail:


1.  The Ombudsman is investigating complaints against 50 local government units for their failure to close garbage dumpsites as required by Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.  What will you do in your first 100 days to promote and secure LGU compliance to R.A. 9003, particularly with respect to the closure and rehabilitation of dumpsites?

2.  R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act of 1999 and R.A. 9003,  the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 both prohibit waste incineration in the Philippines.  However, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources continuously circumvents this prohibition (a) by coming up with a department order that allowed cement manufacturers to burn pelletized mixed waste in their plants, and now (b) by drafting a guideline for allowing burning waste-to-energy facilities.  If you are elected president, what steps would you take in your first 100 days to stem this continuing violation of the incineration ban under R.A. 8749 and R.A. 9003?  What possible initiatives would you advance in order to strengthen both laws?

3.  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?


4. The informal waste sector contributes tremendously to the reduction of wastes hauled to waste disposal facilities by painstakingly recovering useful discards that can be recycled and returned to commerce.  What is your program to ensure that waste workers are duly recognized for such positive contributions to the environment and the economy, and are provided with safe and secured jobs?

5.  A study released at the recent World Economic Forum warns that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 unless we turn the tide.  This is a disturbing scenario for a fish-eating country like the Philippines where fishing is also a major source of livelihood.  What policy measures will your administration take to stop the “plasticization” of the oceans?  For instance, will you support a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags?   Will you support a ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products?

6.  The increasing volume of waste electrical and electronic equipment, popularly known as e-waste, is a growing problem in the Philippines and other low and middle income countries given the toxicity of this waste stream and the lack of a system to ensure their environmentally sound management.  How will your administration deal with the need to reduce the health and environmental impacts of e-waste?

7.  The EcoWaste Coalition has detected toxic cadmium in campaign tarpaulins at levels that exceed the European Union’s limit for cadmium in plastics.  Used cadmium-laden tarps are often sent to dumpsites and landfills for disposal.  What do you plan to do to ensure that the ubiquitous plastic tarpaulins do not contribute to cadmium pollution that is detrimental to human health and the ecosystems?

8.  During the last several years, the mass media reported about chemical-related explosions, fires, emissions and spills from industrial facilities affecting workers and surrounding communities. Would you support a mandatory system that will require industrial and other facilities to provide accessible environmental data to the general public.  Will you support the adoption of a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) policy in line with the public's right to know?  Will you encourage and support industry switch to clean production practices?

9.  The Philippines signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in October 2013, but has yet to ratify this important global treaty that aims to prevent and reduce mercury pollution from human activities. To date, 25 countries, including Japan and USA, have ratified it.  50 ratifications are required for the treaty to enter into force.  If elected as President, will you commit to promoting the ratification of the Minamata Convention in your first 100 days in office?


-end-

29 March 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Begs Poll Candidates and Supporters to Mind Their Garbage

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A waste and pollution watchdog asked local candidates for the May 9 polls to ensure that their proclamation rallies and other campaign activities are garbage-free.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its push for eco-friendly campaigning activities after witnessing the unabashed littering at separate rallies held yesterday in Manila to proclaim the candidacy of re-electionist Mayor Joseph Estrada and former Mayor Alfredo Lim.

“We find the unchecked littering at public assemblies inexcusable,” stated Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, a non-partisan group espousing waste prevention and reduction in the escalating electoral campaign.

“There is no justification for turning our parks and streets into dumping grounds.  It’s totally unacceptable for us to litter even in the exercise of our democratic rights.  It’s not right even if we know that street cleaners will pick up after us without complaining,” she pointed out.

“It’s not too late for well-meaning candidates to literally clean up their campaign sorties.  They should use their moral influence to request their supporters to mind their garbage,” she added.

“The public should be constantly reminded not to drop any litter and every rally should end with a clean-up led by the candidates themselves,” she suggested. 

At the rally held in Liwasang Bonifacio, orange-clad supporters of Estrada who came in droves littered the park with campaign leaflets, cardboard hand fans, plastic bottles, polystyrene food containers, fast food wrappers, snack packs and fish ball sticks.  

“We found Styrofoam containers for dinner given to supporters scattered all over the place,” lamented Lucero. 

Over at Plaza Miranda, some supporters of the Daang Matuwid Coalition in yellow shirts also littered the place with campaign materials.

“While not as ‘bad’ as the trashing of the bigger rally in Liwasang Bonifacio, it’s still littering and unacceptable just the same.  The throwing of yellow confetti towards the end of the program only added to the mess,” Lucero said.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged all candidates and their camps to apply the following 5Rs towards eco-friendly campaigning:

1. REDUCE trash by not littering and not using campaign materials that are barely reused or recycled.

2.  REFUSE overspending for campaign advertisements and materials. 

3.  RETRIEVE campaign paraphernalia for reusing or recycling purposes

4.  RESPECT the trees by keeping them poster-free. 



5.  REMOVE election campaign materials immediately after the polling day. 

The EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the Commission on Elections, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Interior and Local Government to step up the drive for election trash reduction.  

Dubbed as the “Basura-Free Election 2016,”  the government-led drive seeks to promote compliance to Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, by all political parties and party list groups and their candidates and supporters in the course of the campaign 

-end-

28 March 2016

Green Groups Urge Poll Candidates Not to Torture Trees

Two environmental groups have joined forces to ask candidates for the impending polls to spare defenseless trees as the electoral campaign goes full blast across the country.

Through a joint statement, the EcoWaste Coalition and National Coalition to Save the Trees (NCST) appealed to national and local candidates “not to commit further torture on trees by nailing, pinning and tacking campaign materials on them.”

“These acts of torture could stress out the trees and make them susceptible to decay-causing microorganisms, injurious insects and diseases leading to stunted growth, shorter lifespan and early death,” said Father Robert Reyes, Chairperson, NCST.

“We need trees to supply us and other animals with clean air to breathe, to prevent deadly landslides and floods, and to protect us from global warming and climate change.  Please don’t hurt the trees to advance your political agenda,” he said.

“Poll candidates might claim they are not the ones committing these acts of torture on trees and pin the blame solely on their supporters,” noted Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“That is a lame excuse and unacceptable.  Politicians have the responsibility to ensure that their campaign does not in any way harm trees and Mother Earth,” she emphasized.  


Candidates placing campaign materials on trees would be violating Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution 10049, or the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act 9006, the Fair Elections Act, the groups said.

Under the said resolution, campaign materials should not be posted in public structures, schools, bridges, center islands, transportation terminals, waiting sheds, electric posts and wires, trees and other unauthorized places.

Harming trees also goes against Republic Act 3571, which prohibits the “cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises or in any other public ground.”

To prevent and reduce the adverse environmental impacts of electoral activities, the EcoWaste Coalition urged all political aspirants and their camps to apply the following 5Rs towards eco-friendly campaigning.

1. RESPECT the trees by keeping them poster-free. 


2. REFUSE overspending for campaign advertisements and materials. 

3. REDUCE trash by not using campaign stuff that are barely reused or recycled such as balloons, buntings, confetti and sample ballots.

4.  RETRIEVE campaign paraphernalia for reusing or recycling purposes.

5.  REMOVE election campaign materials immediately after the polling day. 

The group likewise urged the COMELEC, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior and Local Government to intensify the “Basura-Free Election 2016” drive.

The drive seeks to promote compliance to Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, during and after the election campaign by all political parties and party list groups and their candidates and backers.

-end-


Reference:


27 March 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Proposes Random Product Tests amid US Report on Cadmium and Lead Chocolates

Are chocolates sold locally safe from toxic cadmium and lead?

The EcoWaste Coalition asked this question after a US-based consumer health watchdog last March 23 reported finding higher than normal levels of cadmium and lead in 35 of 50 chocolate products tested, including Easter chocolate bunnies and eggs.

“We ask this question not to create panic among chocolate-loving Filipinos, but to encourage consumer safety groups from both the public and private sectors to have products randomly purchased and tested for toxic metals and other contaminants,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, which seeks to safeguard the public from harmful chemicals, products and wastes.

“Vigilant compliance monitoring will surely promote company adherence to good manufacturing practices, contribute to food quality and safety and protect consumer health,” he said.  

As You Sow, which is based in Oakland, California, explained that “cadmium and lead may contaminate the chocolate product at many points through the ‘bean to bar’ process; these sources may depend on the cacao growing, fermenting, processing, manufacturing, shipping, and packaging practices.”

Based on tests conducted by independent laboratories, the cadmium and lead levels found in the 35 chocolate products obtained by As You Sow from retailers across the state were above the levels set by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.   Both lead and cadmium are listed under this law as reproductive toxins.

The said law, also known as Proposition 65, requires manufacturers to put a warning label if a product contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm above the safe harbor level established by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. With the warning label, consumers can make an informed decision if they want to buy or use the product.

None of the 35 chocolate products studied by As You Sow that had high cadmium and lead levels provided legally required warning to consumers.
 
To help enforce the labeling requirement under Proposition 65, As You Sow filed legal notices against the chocolate manufacturers.

“Lead exposure is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and decreased IQ, even at very low levels. In fact, there is no safe level of lead for children,” said Eleanne van Vliet, MPH, As You Sow’s Environmental Health Consultant.

“As underscored by the Flint disaster, humans have contaminated our environment with lead, and now we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and children, who are the most vulnerable of us, from every possible exposure,” said Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine. 

The “Flint disaster” refers to the lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan, which could have exposed up to 12,000 children to drinking water with high levels of lead, the EcoWaste Coalition explained. 

As You Sow pointed out that “lead is linked to a variety of neurological impairments, including learning disabilities, seizures, and a lower IQ.”  It stressed that “developing fetuses and children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure because their brains are in critical growth and development stages.”

“Cadmium can cause damage to the kidney, liver, and bones, while also impairing neurobehavioral development,” it added.

“Lead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children,” said Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President. 

“Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products,”  she added.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.asyousow.org/our-work/environmental-health/toxic-enforcement/lead-and-cadmium-in-food/lead-and-cadmium-in-food-faqs/ (please click to see the FAQs)


http://www.asyousow.org/our-work/environmental-health/toxic-enforcement/lead-and-cadmium-in-food/ (please click to see the results)

http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/p65faq.html (please click for more information about Proposition 65)


25 March 2016

Watchdog Says “Basurapamore” Taints Lenten "Alay-Lakad" to Antipolo City for the Nth Time




















The environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition bewailed the dismal failure of many Lenten pilgrims to put the familiar saying “cleanliness is next to godliness” into practice.

The group cited the chronic littering that again sullied the roads leading to the Antipolo Cathedral that enshrines the revered Marian image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.

“For the nth year, littering reared its ugly head as tens of thousands of people braved searing heat on Maundy Thursday to perform their penitential ‘Alay-Lakad’ to Antipolo City,” lamented Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Litterbugs had a field day tossing all types of rubbish from cigarette butts, snack wrappers, plastic bags and bottles, paper cups and bowls to bamboo skewers and coconut fronds,” she said.

The places were pilgrims flocked to rest, particularly the open spaces fronting shopping malls and convenience stores and street gutters, were dotted with litter.  

“Even the hallowed grounds of the Antipolo Cathedral were not spared,” she said.

At daybreak on Good Friday, the group found the church environs and the M.L. Quezon and P. Oliveros Streets strewn with soiled newspapers and other discards.  Photos of the littered church and its vicinity can be viewed at http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

“It’s time for the faithful to seriously take to heart what Pope Francis said in Laudato Si that ‘the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth’ and ditch the dumping habit,” Lucero said. 

“Dumping defiles the environment and threatens the public health,” she emphasized.

While exasperated by the apparent lack of environmental concern of some pilgrims, the EcoWaste Coalition did not fail to admire the street cleaners from the Antipolo City Environment and Waste Management Office, who patiently picked up after the litterbugs.

“The city proper would have become a pigsty if not for the 24-hour round the clock sweeping by the city personnel,” Lucero said. 

The group likewise applauded the dozens of waste pickers who collected discarded plastic bottles and boxes to sell to junk shops.

“Their oft-ignored service for the environment has, among other things, reduced the volume of trash sent to the dump,” Lucero pointed out.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition scored the numerous election campaign posters from national and local politicians and party list groups that were attached to fences and lamp posts or plastered on the walls along Ortigas Avenue Extension and Juan Sumulong Highway.

“The political tarpaulins appeared to be competing for the pilgrims’ attention,” Lucero observed.  

“While the candidates were not physically present, their posters were all over the streets and doing exactly the campaigning for them,” she said. 

-end-

23 March 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Stages Lenten Walk to Press for the Closure of Polluting Dumpsites (Group Backs Ombudsman’s Action vs. Dumpsites, Asks Politicians to Enforce R.A. 9003)







Citizen advocates for chemical safety and zero waste today staged a “Lenten Walk for Mother Earth” to dramatize the adverse impacts of garbage dumping on the ecosystems.

 On Holy Wednesday, members of the EcoWaste Coalition and ‘running priest’ Fr. Robert Reyes, took a solemn walk from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City.

            A volunteer carrying a big wooden cross on his shoulders led the walk under the scorching sun, followed by over 80 participants, many of whom donned black veils and held banners and placards with pro-environment messages, including excerpts from Laudato Si of Pope Francis that says:  “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”

         “The cross symbolizes the suffering of our dear Mother Earth due to the failure of many localities to close, clean up and rehabilitate polluting dumpsites across the country,” said Father Robert Reyes, OFM.

           “The cross also represents our collective hope that ecological stewardship will triumph over the culture of waste and apathy that is defiling and killing God’s creation,” he added.

           “Open dumping goes against Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, burying communities with wastes and poisoning humans and other creatures with harmful chemicals,” noted Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

          “By staging this walk, we proclaim the need to end this daily ‘crucifixion’ of Mother Earth in our throw-away society by closing the dumps and adopting practices that prevent and reduce the generation of trash,” she emphasized.

           “Specifically, we hold this walk to urge the Filipino nation to rally behind the Office of the Ombudsman in its earnest efforts to protect the environment from open dumping by holding erring officials accountable,” she further said.    

             In response, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales assured EcoWaste Coalition officers that “the Environmental Ombudsman team of investigators and prosecutors are working double time to ensure that the complaints filed by the National Solid Waste Management Coalition (NSWMC) are acted upon to protect our ecosystems from the negative impact of illegal dumping activities.”

It will be recalled that last March 11, the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and Environmental Ombudsman Gerard A. Mosquera ordered more than 300 local government officials to submit an explanation on the complaints.  The local officials were given a non-extendible period of 30 days to reply and submit their Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan (SCRP) that must include a proposal to immediately close open dumpsites.   

This order came at the heels of the filing of 50 complaints by the NSWMC for violation of R.A. No. 9003 last February 10 against 600 local government officials from 13 administrative regions. The law mandated the closure of open and controlled dumpsites from 2004 to 2006. The complaints were signed by NSWMC Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo, a representative of civil society in the commission and a member of EcoWaste Coalition.

             In anticipation of the start of the official campaign period for local elective officials, the EcoWaste Coalition urged aspiring leaders to put zero waste resource management at the center of their electoral platforms.

            “We call upon all candidates for local positions to pay serious attention to the urgency of enforcing R.A. 9003 and building zero waste communities to reduce the volume and toxicity of garbage, save resources, cut back on pollution, create green livelihood, and safeguard the environment and the climate,” Lucero said.

               The NSWMC projects waste generation for 2016 to hit 9,213 tons per day in Metro Manila and 40,087 tons per day nationwide. ###

21 March 2016

Environmental and Health Groups Call for Litter-Free, Smoke-Free Holy Week Activities


 http://www.stroke.org.nz/smokefree


Two environmental and health organizations today urged the faithful to make their observance of Lent this year litter-free, as well as smoke-free.

Through a joint press release, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP) said that preventing litter and smoke during the Holy Week and beyond is good for the health and the environment.

“We appeal to the faithful to aim for zero litter as they recall the passion of Christ, seek forgiveness for past sins and renew their faith through various rites during the Holy Week,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.      

“Please avoid all forms of littering when you go on pilgrimage to churches and shrines and participate in Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) and Santo Entierro (Holy Interment) processions and the Easter Sunday pre-dawn Salubong re-enacting the meeting of the Risen Christ with Virgin Mary,” she said.

The group expressed its hope that the penitential walk to Antipolo City on Maundy Thursday will not again be tarnished by litterbugs who leave a carpet of trash along the route year in and year out. 

“We urge the faithful to turn away from cigarette smoking for their health and well-being,” said Dr. Maria Encarnita Limpin, Executive Director, FCAP.

“Please don’t pollute the Holy Week activities, including the Alay Lakad, Pabasa and the processions, with hazardous smoke that can put your health and the health of those around you at risk,” she said.

“We further advise those who are into e-cigarettes not to smoke in public as this can expose other people to secondhand emissions.  Some studies have detected carcinogenic substances like benzene, formaldehyde and tobacco-specific nitrosamines from such emissions,” Limpin, who is also a regent at the Philippine College of Physicians, added.  

Both the EcoWaste Coalition and FCAP enjoined national and local government agencies to fully enforce the relevant prohibitions against littering and smoking under Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and Republic Act 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act, respectively.

-end-

Reference:
http://www.lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2001/ra_9003_2001.html

http://www.lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2003/ra_9211_2003.html







20 March 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Appeals to MM Households and Businesses to Keep Waterways Garbage-Free


EcoWaste Coalition's File Photo: Garbage-covered Estero de la Magdalena, 2015

An environmental watchdog group today sought the cooperation of Metro Manila inhabitants in keeping all waterways trash-free ahead of the observance of the World Water Day on March 22.

The EcoWaste Coalition directed its appeal for proper discards management to households and businesses situated along the rivers and drainage canals, or esteros, crisscrossing the 17 local government units comprising the National Capital Region.

At the same time, the group urged national and local candidates for the May 9 polls to espouse sustainable solutions that will protect the country’s water resources from chemical and waste dumping and other damaging human activities. 

“We request our city dwellers, especially those with houses by the rivers and canals, to cooperate with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and concerned local government units (LGUs) in protecting our waterways from garbage,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Throwing trash into the streets, storm drains, creeks and rivers is unethical and unlawful,” she emphasized.

Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, lists the dumping of waste matters in public places as a prohibited act punishable by a fine of P300 to P1,000, or one to 15-day community service, or both.

In spite of the legal prohibition, illegal waste disposal goes on unabated, Lucero complained, citing the 288 truckloads of garbage and silt, approximately 2,989 cubic meters, that were removed by the MMDA from five of the 273 esteros and sewers in the metropolis during the agency’s “Estero Blitz” program that started on March 1.

“Among other major impacts, indiscriminate trash disposal increases flooding events that can pose serious hazard to life and property” Lucero said.

“By properly managing our discards, we prevent trash from getting into the drainage systems, blocking the drains and ultimately clogging creeks and rivers and hampering the free flow of water, which can aggravate floods and other water-related disasters,” she said.

With the general polls fast approaching, the EcoWaste Coalition challenged candidates running for national and local elective positions to make water protection an important aspect of their electoral platforms.

“As it is a crucial component of any program geared at attaining sustainable development, we find it essential for our aspiring political leaders to tackle water and sanitation issues and solutions for the benefit of all,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

-end-


17 March 2016

PH NGO Lauds Thai Government for Issuing Lead Paint Regulation


The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watchdog group in the Philippines, has lauded the government of Thailand for issuing a mandatory regulation in enamel paints that will protect children in Thailand and the ASEAN region against lead exposure.

Effective January 2017, all enamel paints used for construction and decorative purposes which are manufactured or sold in Thailand must contain no more than 0.01 % (or 100 parts per million) lead, mercury and cadmium in dry weight, and must not exceed 0.1%  (1,000 ppm)  hexavalent chromium (dry weight).

In addition, all enamel paints manufactured or sold in Thailand will be required to show a warning label about potential dangers from the product, for example, “contains toxic substance” or “keep away from children.”

“We consider this a very important step in pushing for health-protective regulation in paints as countries in the ASEAN region move towards increased economic cooperation and integration,” declared Sonia Mendoza, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We congratulate the Thai authorities for taking action and commend the civil society campaign led by the Ecological Recovery and Alert-Thailand (EARTH) for their dynamic advocacy to make this happen with support from various collaborators,” she said.

“Our steadfast multi-stakeholder effort in the Philippines to regulate lead in paints could have possibly encouraged Thailand to switch from voluntary to mandatory regulation,” she noted.

The Thai Department of Foreign Trade in February 2015 issued a statement alerting Thai manufacturers that “the Philippines values public health and safety” and that Thai paint manufacturers “should continuously improve the quality of their products” because Thailand exports as much as 616 million baht in paint products and varnishes to the Philippines each year, the EcoWaste Coalition recalled.

The DENR A.O. 2013-24 signed by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje provides for a 90 ppm limit for lead in paint and establishes a phase out period for leaded architectural, decorative and household paints by January 2017, and leaded industrial paints by January 2019.

“We hope other ASEAN countries  will decisively act and follow suit to ensure that paints produced, traded, sold and used in the region are safe from toxic lead, which can cause serious harm, especially to young children,” Mendoza said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead is a cumulative toxicant that has harmful effects on multiple body systems” and that “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe, ” especially for the unborn babies and young children.

Out of the 10 member states and two observer states of the ASEAN, only three – Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – have regulations controlling lead in paints, particularly oil-based decorative paints.

“The Thai regulation will be beneficial for children in other countries because many Thailand-based manufacturers are major exporters of paint products, particularly in the ASEAN region,” stated  Penchom Saetang, Director, EARTH.

“We hope that all manufacturers will comply with this new regulation to reduce the future burden on public health from long-lasting environmental contamination from leaded paint,” she said.

EARTH and the EcoWaste Coalition spearheaded the civil society campaign to get lead out of paints in Thailand and the Philippines as part of the IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project assisted by the European Union.

EARTH and the EcoWaste Coalition are contributing members of GAELP, a cooperative initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme and WHO, and are members as well of IPEN, a global civil society organization promoting safe chemicals policies and practices that protect human health and the environment.

-end-

Reference:

Original documents in Thai language:

January 29, 2016 - “Administrative Decree Requiring Alkyd Enamel Paints to Meet Industrial Product Standards”  http://www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th/DATA/PDF/2559/A/010/11.PDF. This national legislation refers to technical requirements specified in “Thai Industrial Standards No. 2625-2557: Safety Standard for Alkyd Enamel Paints” http://app.tisi.go.th/standard/fulltext/TIS-2625-2557.pdf

http://ipen.org/sites/default/files/documents/National_Report_Lead_In_New_Enamel_Paints_in_Thailand_June_2015.pdf (please turn to page 18, last paragraph, to see the quote from the Thai Department of Foreign Trade)

15 March 2016

Watchdog Asks Poll Bets to Bare Plans to Protect Consumer Rights

http://www.indianmirror.com/homepage-articles/World-Consumer-Rights-Day.html

A watchdog group for consumer safety and environmental health exhorted candidates for the May 9 polls to disclose to the electorate what they plan to do to protect the rights of every Juan and Juana de la Cruz as consumers.

As the World Consumer Rights Day is observed today, March 15, the EcoWaste Coalition pressed all political aspirants to come up with a “Consumer Protection Agenda” that will address the key needs of Filipino consumers.

“We expect those running for public elective positions to instigate measures that will advance the eight basic rights of consumers, especially the deprived and the poor,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the Green Thumb Coalition.

These rights, as articulated by global consumer movement, include the right to the satisfaction of basic needs, the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, the right to be heard, the
right to redress, the right to consumer education and the right to a healthy environment.

Zeroing on the right to a healthy environment, the group expressed its hope that poll candidates will come on strong in asserting the citizens’ right to clean air, safe water, renewable energy sources,
and waste-free, toxic-free ecosystems.

“We also hope that those running for Congressional or Senate seats will support amendments to strengthen the Consumer Act of the Philippines, as well as file other bills to localize the United
Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP),” Lucero said.

“Stronger consumer protection laws will prevent market abuse, ensure  fair play and justice, and safeguard the public health and the environment,” she said. 

Like the Department of Trade and Industry, the EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the adoption by the UN General Assembly last December 2015 of the revised UNGCP, which among other things, acknowledged “access to  essential goods and services, and the protection of vulnerable and  disadvantaged consumers as new consumer legitimate needs.”

According to Consumers International, “adequate consumer protection  can directly support the achievement of UN Sustainable Development  Goals relating to ending hunger and improving nutrition by supporting  access to safe, affordable and healthy diets; to health and well-being  by protecting consumers from unsafe products that cause illness or  injury and expanding access to effective pharmaceuticals.”
 

 -end-

 Reference:

http://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1163&Sitemap_x0020_Taxonomy=UNCTAD%20Home;