12 September 2017

Stop the Killing... of the Oceans: Help Put a Stop to Plastic Pollution

Amid calls to end drug-related killings, a waste and pollution watch group has called attention to another type of “killing” that has to stop now. 

The EcoWaste Coalition, in observance of the National Cleanup Month, asked the government, industry and the citizenry to stop the killing of the world’s oceans, citing the dumping of millions of tons of plastic waste that is contaminating the marine ecosystems and lethally threatening aquatic organisms.

To prevent plastics and other discards from spilling from land to water courses and bodies, the group advocating for a zero waste and a toxic-free Philippines called for the genuine enforcement of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The group pressed for the active implementation of R.A. 9003 as the Manila Bay Coastal Cleanup and Brand Audit organized by various green groups gets underway from September 11 to 20 at the Freedom Island in Parañaque City.

The nine-day cleanup and audit is organized by the Break Free from Plastic Movement, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Samahan ng mga Nananambakan sa Dumpsite Area,  Samahan ng Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and other groups.

“As we help in picking up the garbage along the polluted coastline of Manila Bay, we want to call attention to the urgent need to enforce R.A. 9003 in all local government units (LGUs) and component barangays to curb global plastic pollution that is killing the oceans,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coaltion.

R.A. 9003, among a long list of prohibitions, forbids and penalizes littering, open burning, open dumping, the manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials, and the importation of toxic wastes misrepresented as “recyclable.”

“The national and local governments, businesses and industries and all other waste generators, including the households, must strive for the ‘adoption of best environmental practices in ecological solid waste management excluding incineration’ as required by R.A. 9003 and as recommended by the United Nations,” she emphasized.

“A national legislation banning single-use plastic bags and mainstreaming eco- alternatives is one of the key environmental policies that the country needs to adopt,” she pointed out.  

The United Nations Environment Assembly, which includes the Philippines as represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), had pointed out that “(waste) prevention and the environmentally sound management of waste are keys to long-term success in combating marine pollution.”

The UN Environment (formerly the United Nations Environment Programme) had also recommended a ban or phase-out of thin film, single use plastic bags that choke marine life.

The EcoWaste Coalition lamented that the 16-year old R.A. 9003 remains poorly enforced with many LGUs failing to halt acts prohibited under the law from the ubiquitous littering to the non-closure of polluting dumpsites, and falling short of higher waste diversion targets.

For example, Metro Manila, which spends billions of pesos for garbage hauling and disposal, has a waste diversion rate of only 37%.  Waste diversion covers activities such as segregation at source, recycling, composting and other practices that reduce or eliminate the amount of wastes sent to disposal facilities.  

According to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the metropolis  produces 9,499 tons of waste per day with per capita generation estimated at 0.265 to 1 kilo/person daily.  

Metro Manila’s waste is comprised biodegradable (44.32%), recyclable (31.64%), residuals (23.68) and special (0.36%) wastes. 

Plastics constitute 17.86% of waste generated in Metro Manila as per the MMDA’s Waste Analysis and Characterization Study.

-end-

Reference:

http://mmda.gov.ph/images/Home/Solid-Waste-Management-in-MM-2017.pdf

http://www.unep.org/gpa/infocus/countries-pass-second-resolution-marine-litter

http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1993/09/03/proclamation-no-244-s-1993/


http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2003/09/15/proclamation-no-470-s-2003/

10 September 2017

Groups Push for Toy Safety with the Start of the ‘Ber’ Months


As the countdown to Christmas gets underway with the start of the “ber” months, the EcoWaste Coalition (a health and environment group) and Laban Konsyumer, Inc. (a consumer protection group) jointly urged the authorities to ensure consumer access to duly labeled safe toys in the market.

The groups’ appeal came on the heels of the latest toy sampling conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition revealing extensive non-compliance to Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013.

Out of the 65 toy samples recently purchased from discount shops in Divisoria and in legitimate toy stores for P20 to P180 each, 63 were found to contain inadequate labeling information, which by law will make them “misbranded” or “banned hazardous substance.”


Laban Konsyumer, Inc. and the EcoWaste Coalition have repeatedly urged the health and trade departments to issue the Implementing Rules and Regulations for R.A. 10620, which have yet to be issued four years after the law was approved on September 3, 2013 by then President Benigno Aquino III.

“The long delay in the promulgation of the IRR does not serve R.A. 10620’s goal of promoting children’s right to safe toys, especially their right to accurate and complete product labeling to facilitate informed choice,” said Atty. Victorio Dimagiba, President,  Laban Konsyumer, Inc.


The EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer pressed for toy safety law enforcement action to ensure that kids are protected against potential dangers to their health and safety from misbranded and hazardous toys.

Some toys may pose various hazards, including blunt force injury, burn, chemical, choking, electrical, eye injury, falling, ingestion, laceration, poisoning, puncture and strangulation hazards, the groups warned.

“We appeal to the authorities to remove misbranded and hazardous toys from store shelves in line with the country’s toy regulations,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

As per R.A. 10620, toys that fail to comply with the required labeling requirements “shall be considered a misbranded or banned hazardous substance.”

“A rigorous crackdown on unsafe toys ahead of the peak season for toy shopping in December is needed to protect our children who are very vulnerable to injuries and chemical risks,” Dizon added.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, toys and childcare articles with the required product notifications should contain the following labeling requirements: license to operate (LTO) number, age grade, cautionary statements/ warnings, instructional literature, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor.

An examination of the product labels revealed that out of 65 samples, only 23 have the required License to Operate (LTO) number on the label.  The authenticity of the LTO numbers provided has yet to be determined.

Of the 65 samples, only 7 provided information about their manufacturers or their local importers or distributors.

Only 2 samples were found to be completely compliant with the government’s labeling requirements for toys.

R.A. 10620 states that non-compliant toys and games “shall be withdrawn from the market at the expense of the manufacturer or importer and shall not be allowed to be distributed, sold or offered for sale in the Philippines.”

The law requires the Department of Trade and Industry to “regularly publish every six months the list of all manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers who failed to comply with the requirements” of R.A. 10620.

It further requires the Department of Health to “publish every six months the list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances the sale, offer for sale and distribution of which shall not be allowed” under R.A. 10620.

-end-

Reference:


08 September 2017

Group Tells Parents and Kids to Steer Clear of Lead-Laced Art Materials


The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes, urged the public to shun art coloring products containing lead, a dangerous substance, especially for young children.

The group issued the statement after finding a lead-containing water color set on sale in the market despite being banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Last August 31, the FDA through Advisory No. 2017-26 warned the public against buying and using  Ultra Colours Jumbo Crayons and Xiao Yiren Water Color for containing lead above the maximum allowed limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

This is the second time that the FDA banned a water color product for containing lead.   In 2014, it banned Artex Water Color for its excessive lead content as reported to the agency by the EcoWaste Coalition.

In test buys conducted on September 7, the group managed to purchase Xiao Yiren Water Color from a retail establishment in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

“We urge the public to steer clear of art coloring products laden with lead, a substance that is banned in the production of school supplies,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We also appeal to concerned manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers to strictly observe the country’s regulatory policy that seeks to protect children from preventable sources of lead exposure,” he said.

“We further appeal to all local government units and law enforcement agencies to assist the FDA in ensuring that the banned products are not sold in their areas of jurisdiction,” he added.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, prohibits the use of lead in the manufacture of school supplies, toys, and other products.  It further sets a 90 ppm limit for lead in paint and provides for the phase-out of paints exceeding such limit.

According to the advisory signed by FDA Director General Nela Charade Puno, “lead is dangerous even at low exposure levels  producing a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems.”

“Lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased anti-social behavior, and reduced educational attainment,” the FDA warned.

“Their hand-to-mouth behaviors, as well as their innate curiosity, predisposed them to put objects in their mouth resulting to unintended exposure to multiple hazardous substances such as lead,” the FDA said.

The FDA has strongly advised the public to buy and use art coloring products and school supplies that are registered/notified with the agency, supplied or distributed by FDA-licensed establishments and sold by legitimate outlets. 

Republic Act No. 9711 (the FDA Act), as well as Republic Act No. 7394 (Consumer Act of the Philippines), prohibit the manufacture, distribution, sale or offering for sale or use, advertisement, promotion, and transport, among others, of health products that are unregistered, adulterated or misbranded.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/458304-fda-advisory-no-2017-260

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories/14-cosmetic/162436-fda-advisory-2014-044

06 September 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Slams Illegal Sale of Misbranded and Hazardous Toys in the Market (Health and Safety Advocacy Group Urges Government to Crack Down on Dangerous Toys)


As the Christmas countdown commenced with the start of the “ber” months, a health and safety advocacy group urged the authorities to crack down on dangerous toys in the market.

“We appeal to the authorities to remove misbranded and hazardous toys from store shelves in line with the country’s toy regulations,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“A rigorous crackdown on unsafe toys ahead of the peak season for toy shopping in December is needed to protect our children who are very vulnerable to injuries and chemical risks,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition pressed for toy safety law enforcement action to ensure that kids are protected against potential dangers to their health and safety from misbranded and hazardous toys.

Some toys may pose various hazards, including blunt force injury, burn, chemical, choking, electrical, eye injury, falling, ingestion, laceration, poisoning, puncture and strangulation hazards, the group warned.

The group’s appeal came on the heels of its latest toy sampling revealing extensive non-compliance to Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013.

As per R.A. 10620, toys that fail to comply with the required labeling requirements “shall be considered a misbranded or banned hazardous substance.”

Out of the 65 toy samples purchased from discount shops in Divisoria and in legitimate toy stores for P20 to P180 each, 63 were found to contain inadequate labeling information, which by law will make them “misbranded” or “banned hazardous substance.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration, toys and childcare articles with the required product notifications should contain the following labeling requirements: license to operate (LTO) number, age grade, cautionary statements/ warnings, instructional literature, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor.

Based on the group’s scrutiny of the product labels, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that out of 65 samples, only 23 have the required License to Operate (LTO) number on the label.  The authenticity of the LTO numbers provided has yet to be determined.

Of the 65 samples, only 7 provided information about their manufacturers or their local importers or distributors.

Only 2 samples were found to be completely compliant with the government’s labeling requirements for toys.

R.A. 10620 states that non-compliant toys and games “shall be withdrawn from the market at the expense of the manufacturer or importer and shall not be allowed to be distributed, sold or offered for sale in the Philippines.”

The law requires the Department of Trade and Industry to “regularly publish every six months the list of all manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers who failed to comply with the requirements” of R.A. 10620.

It further requires the Department of Health to “publish every six months the list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances the sale, offer for sale and distribution of which shall not be allowed” under R.A. 10620.

The EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer, Inc. have repeatedly pressed the health and trade departments to issue the Implementing Rules and Regulations for R.A. 10620, which have yet to be promulgated four years after the law was approved on September 3, 2013 by then President Benigno Aquino III.

-end-

Reference:


04 September 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Imported Kiddie Furniture Coated with Lead Paint, Urges Government to Seize Dangerous Products to Avoid Children’s Exposure to Lead



A watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes, today urged the authorities to stop the illegal sale of imported children’s chairs due to violations of the country’s lead paint standard.

The EcoWaste Coalition said the yellow surface paint on the metal frame of the children’s furniture in question contained high concentrations of lead in excess of 90 parts per million (ppm), a violation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24.

The group obtained the imported products on September 2 and 4  from discount stores in Caloocan and Pasay Cities for P180 for a chair with backrest and "SpongeBob SquarePants" design and P125 for a folding chair with a "Fiore" design.

The totally unlabeled products lack the required market authorization from health authorities in the form of toy and childcare article (TCCA) notifications.

As per the group’s screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the yellow paint on the metal tube frame of the chair with backrest had a total lead content of 1,171 ppm, while that of the folding chair had 1,256 ppm.

“We urge the authorities to seize these chairs marketed for children and have them returned to their manufacturer at the expense of their importer or distributor,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of  the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“At the same time, we remind consumers to exercise their rights to be informed and to be protected against hazardous goods that may expose young children to health-damaging chemicals like lead,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition warned that the leaded paint on the metal frame will break or chip over time, spreading hazardous flakes and dust in the surroundings that children can ingest through their usual hand-to-mouth behavior.

DENR A.O. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, prohibits total lead content above 90 ppm in architectural, decorative and household paints. 

Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Memorandum Circular 2016-010 further clarified that the use of paints with more than 90 ppm of lead in toys and children’s products, including home furnishings like chairs, shall be prohibited by December 31, 2016.

According to a report on “Childhood Lead Poisoning” by the World Health Organization (WHO), “the  consequences  of   brain  injury  from  exposure  to  lead  in  early  life are  loss  of   intelligence,  shortening  of   attention  span  and  disruption  of  behavior.”


“The  human  brain  has  little  capacity  for  repair,  these effects  are  untreatable  and  irreversible.  They cause diminution in brain function and reduction in achievement that last throughout life,” the WHO pointed out.

The WHO has warned that “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage,” stressing “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”

-end-

Reference:

http://chemical.emb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MC-2016-010.pdf
http://server2.denr.gov.ph/uploads/rmdd/dao-2013-24.pdf

http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/childhoodpoisoning/en/

02 September 2017

Group Laments Five-Year Delay in the Enforcement of Manila’s Plastic Bag Ordinance


The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, bewailed the delay in the implementation of a key environmental measure that could have helped the City of Manila in reducing its garbage woe.

“This year marks the fifth anniversary of 
Manila’s plastic bag ordinance, which regrettably remains unimplemented to this day,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Manila City Ordinance No. 8282 was signed on September 3, 2012 by then Mayor Alfredo Lim.  The city government imposed a
 one-year moratorium on its implementation  to enable businesses to make the needed adjustments.

The ordinance prohibits 
the use of any form of plastic bags on dry goods and regulates their use on wet goods.

It also bans the use of polystyrene and similar materials for food, produce and other products.


“We call upon Mayor Joseph Estrada to give Ordinance 8282 the chance to help the city in cutting its plastic waste, in unclogging the esteros, and in reducing the money spent for cleanup and disposal,” appealed Alejandre.


According to 2013 Commission on Audit year-end reports, Metro Manila spent P4.221 billion in combined garbage hauling expenses, with Manila spending over P512 million.


“The unrestrained sale, use and disposal of 
plastic bags in the city contributes to the destruction of Manila Bay, which the government is striving to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2008,” he noted.

“Enforcing the plastic bag ordinance will stir Manile
ños into shifting to reusable bags and containers, which will help in restoring Manila Bay and other  polluted water bodies,” he added.

Waste audits conducted at the Manila Bay in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2016 by the EcoWaste Coalition, 
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Mother Earth Foundation and other groups revealed alarming quantities of plastic marine litter in the bay.

The waste audit conducted in 2016, for example, collected 1,482 kilos of trash, 79 percent of which were assorted 
plastic materials, comprising of junk food wrappers and sachets (20 percent), plastic bags (17 percent), composite packaging (12 percent), food packaging (9 percent), polystyrene containers (7 percent), diaper liners (7 percent), hard plastics (4 percent), drinking straw 1 (percent) and plastic twine (1 percent).

-end-

30 August 2017

Thousands to Join Pope Francis in Praying for the Care of Creation

http://www.gipl.org/event/world-day-of-prayer-for-care-of-creation/

Thousands of Filipino Catholics are expected to converge at the grounds of Burnham Green, Luneta Park this Friday, September 1, from 4:00-8:00 am, to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation as instituted by Pope Francis. The event will be highlighted with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 4:30 am, to be presided by His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Dubbed as “Walk for Creation,” the event hopes to gather all people of goodwill to pray for and with creation, to encourage each other to live a simple lifestyle and to advocate to care and protect Earth, our Common Home.

The event is organized by the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM)-Pilipinas in cooperation with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-NASSA, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, Council of the Laity of the Philippines, Couples for Christ, Fellowship for the Care of Creation Association, Inc.,  Our Lady of Remedios Parish- Malate, Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., Student Catholic Action of the Philippines,  Alyansa Tigil Mina, EcoWaste Coalition, Green Convergence,  Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and other faith and ecology groups.  Universities and schools like the  Adamson University, La Consolacion College Manila, Perpetual College, Philippine Women’s University and the St. Theresa’s College are also co-organizers of the event.

“We aim to promote and raise awareness about September 1 as ‘a significant occasion for prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles’ as enunciated by Pope Francis in response to the ecological crisis that affects us all,” said Fr. John Leydon, Convener of GCCM-Pilipinas.

“It is our hope that this celebration will bring about unity, inspire one another and amplify the people’s commitment to take bold action together to hear both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor,” he added.

According to the Holy Father, “the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

The observance of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015 to mark the opening of the Season of Creation on September 1 as  has been the custom in the Orthodox Church since 1989.

This Friday’s “Walk for Creation” is a “zero waste” event.  As such, the organizers enjoin all participants to be mindful of their discards, which should be segregated and placed into their proper bins.

-end-


http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2015/documents/papa-francesco_20150806_lettera-giornata-cura-creato.html


23 August 2017

Groups to ASEAN: Act on plastic pollution, push Zero Waste in the region


MANILA, PHILIPPINES – On the 50th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) celebrated this month, environmental groups urged the regional body to act on plastic pollution in the region.

“ASEAN member countries can stop plastic pollution and protect our oceans by instituting policies that will reduce the use of single-use disposable plastics, protecting the region’s borders from becoming dumping grounds of waste and polluting waste management technologies from other countries, and implementing ecological and real solutions to the waste crisis,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) movement.

The groups urged the regional body to invest in Zero Waste solutions to drastically reduce demand and consumption of single-use disposable products and packaging.

“As demonstrated by many communities in Asian countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, China, South Korea, and India to name a few, Zero Waste is an economically-viable and sustainable solution to our region’s waste problem. But for it to work at the scale needed to solve the problem, we need our governments to promote and institutionalize it,” said Froilan Grate, Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

Zero Waste is an ecological resource management and reduction model that involves waste separation at source, product redesign, and systematic waste collection and management.

In many Asian countries, Zero Waste may lean more heavily towards organic waste management because organics comprise more than 50% of the waste generated. Waste segregation allows households and communities to capture and manage different types of waste accordingly: recyclables are recycled and organics are managed through composting, biodigestion, and other methods of organics management.

What is left—the residual fraction—is then easier to see. Solutions for this fraction will be designed better to make sure that materials that can neither be truly recycled or composted are systematically reduced.

"By supporting ecological solutions, ASEAN governments not just turn around the issue of waste but also become global leaders and pave the way for creating lasting, climate-friendly, people-centered systems," Grate added.

Contact:

Jed Alegado, +639176070248
Communications Officer – Asia Pacific
Break Free From Plastic Movement (BFFP)
jed@breakfreefromplastic.org

Sherma Benosa, +63 9178157570
Communications Officer – Asia Pacific
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)
sherma@no-burn.org


________

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. To learn more about GAIA, visit www.no-burn.org

Break Free From Plastic Movement (BFFP) is a global movement composed of various nongovernmental organizations working together to address plastic pollution. To learn more about BFFP, visit www.breakfreefromplastic.org.

18 August 2017

Waste Pickers Seek Inclusion in Formal Waste Management Systems



National and local authorities should acknowledge and tap the immense potentials of waste pickers and the rest of the thriving informal waste sector (IWS) in reducing the country’s garbage production estimated at 40,087 tons per day.

At a forum organized yesterday by zero waste advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition, the 60 informal recyclers in attendance drew attention to the sad plight of their often ignored sector, including the occupational health and safety hazards faced daily by the IWS, the lack of economic and social security, and the inadequate government support.

The participants from Caloocan, Malabon, Manila, Navotas, Quezon and Valenzuela Cities and Meycauayan and Obando, Bulacan hail from the different sub-groupings of the IWS such as waste pickers in dumpsites and garbage transfer stations, e-waste dismantlers, door-to-door waste collectors, and itinerant waste pickers.

“We created this opportunity for the IWS representatives from various communities to meet and find strength in each other’s experiences and aspirations,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

At the forum, the IWS representatives eagerly affirmed their common goal to have decent, safe and secure jobs and livelihoods, and access to basic social services, including low-cost housing for the poor.

They emphasized the importance of the IWS, who are waste experts in their own right, in the development and implementation of solid waste management strategies and plans from barangay to the national level.

To achieve this, the participants pressed for the recognition of the IWS and their representation at the barangay solid waste management committees, provincial, city and municipal solid waste management boards and the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).

Engr. Eligio Ildenfonso, Executive Director of the NSWMC, told the participants:  “Huwag maliitin ang papel ninyo sa lipunan. May importanteng serbisyo kayo na dapat kilalanin ng mga pamahalaang lokal para mabawasan ang basurang itinatapon sa landfill na dapt ay latak lamang.” ("Do not underestimate your role in the society. You render an important service that local governments should recognize to reduce the volume of trash to be disposed of in landfills, which should be limited to residuals.)

Rey Palacio, also from the NSWMC, briefed the participants about the key features of the National Framework Plan for the Informal Sector in Solid Waste Management, as well as the National Solid Waste Management Strategy, in line with Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The forum also discussed the imminent threat to the IWS from waste disposal technologies that burn discards, including recyclables, in the guise of generating electricity.

“Our goal is to prevent recyclables from being wasted to feed the so-called waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration plants, undermining recycling efforts, and jeopardizing the economic livelihood of waste pickers and their families,” stressed Lora Abengoza, WtE Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The forum also sought to inform the IWS about the opportunities under Republic Act 10771, or the Green Jobs Act.

As discussed by Brenalyn Peji, Director of the Institute for Labor Studies of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), R.A. 10771 seeks to promote and incentivize green jobs such as jobs that help to protect the ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce energy, materials and water consumption, decarbonize the economy, and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.

Aside from DOLE and the NSWMC, the forum was also attended by the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP).

-end-

Reference:

16 August 2017

World’s First Health & Environment Global Treaty on Mercury Becomes International Law



The Minamata Convention, the world’s first legally binding global agreement to reduce mercury pollution, becomes International law on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017. Environmental health leaders from IPEN (a global network of NGOs in over 100 countries combatting toxic pollutants) celebrate the historical global health and environmental treaty and call on world governments to take the next steps to ensure “no more Minamatas.”

The treaty, say IPEN leaders, is the beginning of the end of mercury in the global economy. But to actualize the aim of the treaty—protecting the health of current and future generations, food chains and the environment from mercury pollution— requires stronger coordinated global action. Ending mercury use and emissions at its primary sources such as small-scale gold mining, coal fired power plants and cement kilns and halting the global mercury trade are key. Identifying and remediating contaminated sites are also essential to protecting human health from the highly toxic metal. 

The Minamata Convention, the first legally binding chemical treaty in a decade, recognizes that mercury is a global threat to human health, livelihood and the environment.  Currently 74 countries have ratified the treaty, exceeding the threshold of 50 countries that allows the treaty to enter into force.

“Mercury-contaminated sites have become a slow disaster in many countries, poisoning fish stocks and making communities sick. It is not enough to ban new industrial uses. To prevent mercury devastation for new generations, we need unified guidelines so that countries can identify and control risk from these sites and clean up communities where heavy mercury loads in the environment perpetuate harm to current and future generations,” said IPEN Mercury Policy Advisor, Dr. Lee Bell.

Use of mercury in gold mining and coal fired power plants are leading causes of mercury emissions on the planet. Small scale gold mining is an extremely hazardous process that sickens miners, their families and communities. According to the United Nations Environment Program, approximately 15 million people in over  70 countries engage in artisanal small scale gold mining (ASGM) activities for their livelihood, practices that mainly use mercury. Although declining, mercury from illicit sources have been and are still being used in many illegal small-scale gold mining practices.

“The tragedy of mercury causes profound health and economic impacts in some of the most impoverished communities around the world; communities that subsist through small scale gold mining. Unless we take global action to end the international mercury trade that dumps mercury into communities near gold mining sites, we will continue to poison some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people on our planet,” said IPEN lead for ASGM and Goldman Prize Winner Yuyun Ismawati.

To protect residents from adverse health effects, countries must improve their mercury monitoring, health measures, and food advisories, and increase the capacity of health practitioners to understand and tackle issues related to mercury poisoning.

IPEN Co-Chair and Goldman Prize Winner Dr. Olga Speranskaya says, “Monitoring of mercury levels in food products must be improved. The majority of developing countries, and countries with economies in transition, do not issue recommendations to pregnant women on daily intake limits of mercury-containing food products such fish and rice, with dire consequences. Most developing countries lack limits for mercury levels in fish. Those that have established limits, often set them lower than relevant limits of developed countries, thus reducing the level of protection of their residents from the adverse health impacts of mercury.”

Just as the treaty itself emerged from the work of hundreds of NGOs around the world to raise the alarm on far-reaching mercury impacts, the NGO community is resolved to ensure the treaty is effective.

“Our community of global environmental health, justice, and human rights NGOs will continue to hold the world’s governments accountable to uphold the spirit and intent of the treaty, to encourage more countries to ratify, and to advocate for governments to take necessary actions so that this important agreement successfully protects the many millions of humans threatened by mercury,” said Pamela Miller, IPEN Co-Chair.

For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition ( an active member of IPEN), said: “We appeal to our political leaders, particularly President Rodrigo Duterte, to cause the immediate ratification of the Minamata Convention.  Ratifying the mercury treaty and ensuring its effective enforcement, nationally and internationally, will be the just way to honor Minamata and affirm our commitment against a repeat of such catastrophic mercury poisoning tragedy in the Philippines and elsewhere.”

The historical treaty is named after the Minamata disaster in Japan in which industrial dumping of mercury into Minamata Bay killed and sickened tens of thousands of people.

Mercury exposure damages the nervous system, kidneys, and cardiovascular system. Developing organ systems, such as the fetal nervous system, are the most sensitive to the toxic effects of mercury, although nearly all organs are vulnerable. Human exposure to mercury occurs primarily through the consumption of contaminated fish and through direct contact with mercury vapor through small scale gold mining practices. Very small amounts of mercury, as little as 1 ppm measured in hair, has been recognized by the US EPA as a threshold above which mercury can cause brain damage in developing fetuses. New scientific literature is suggesting that mercury is even more harmful than previously understood, with negative neurological impacts noted at levels above 0.58 ppm. 

Coal fired power plants, the second greatest source of mercury contamination and a primary contributor to climate change, release atmospheric mercury which deposits into the world’s oceans and enters the food chain, accumulating in fish and burdening human health. 
###


IPEN is a network of non-governmental organizations working in more than 100 countries to reduce and eliminate the harm to human health and the environment from toxic chemicals.

15 August 2017

Over 100 Groups Clamor for PH Ratification of Treaty vs. Mercury Pollution


Civil society groups pressed the government to join the 74 countries that have so far ratified a historic global agreement to combat mercury pollution, which will enter into force tomorrow, August 16.

In an urgent letter sent last Monday to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, over 100 environmental, health and labor rights advocates urged the government to work for the immediate ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and to secure the required Senate concurrence prior to the First Conference of Parties (COP1).

The groups also sent the letter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, and Energy Secretary Alfredo Cusi.

While the Philippines through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in 2013, the government has yet to ratify the historic treaty.

“We owe it to the people of Minamata, the Japanese city after whom the agreement was named, and to the Filipino people to ensure that the convention is ratified and enforced to protect public health and the environment against mercury pollution,” said Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Minamata suffered heavily from decades-long dumping of mercury-tainted industrial wastewater from Chisso chemical factory into the Minamata Bay, poisoning the fish that people ate and leading to crippling illnesses known today as the Minamata disease.

To date, 74 governments have ratified the convention.  

The groups are pushing for the treaty’s expedited ratification so that the Philippines could attend the COP1 as a State Party and not as a mere observer. The COP1 will take place on September 24-29 this year in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Ratifying  the Minamata Convention on Mercury will further strengthen our nation’s efforts to prevent, if not eliminate, threats of  mercury pollution as this will allow the Philippines to effectively engage in the treaty processes, address gaps in existing regulations, and gain access to financial resources and beneficial technology transfer and capacity-building opportunities," the groups explained.

The groups noted that the Philippines actively and meaningfully participated in the mercury treaty negotiations from 2010-2013.

They also cited the country’s pursuit of progressive policies and programs to address  mercury pollution, including phasing out mercury-based medical devices in 2010 (DOH A.O. 2008-21), banning mercury use in mineral processing in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in 2012 (E.O.  79-2012), introducing extended producer responsibility for lighting products containing mercury in 2013 (Joint DENR-DOE A.O. 2013-09-0001),and prohibiting  over 135 mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics since 2010 to date (various FDA advisories).

According to the Ratification Dossier prepared by the DENR with assistance from the Swiss Confederation and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, “the existing policies, programs and regulations have, to some degree, prepared the Philippines in terms of fulfilling the requirements of the Convention.”

“Despite the economic cost to comply with the provisions of the Convention, the long-term benefits of becoming a Party far outweigh the disadvantages,” the dossier said, stressing “the Convention is consistent with the country’s basic policy to protect and preserve the right to health of Filipinos, and the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

Key highlights of the treaty include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, the phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

In line with Executive Order 459, Series of 1997, the DENR shall endorse the treaty to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which shall then transmit it to the President for his ratification.  Upon ratification, the DFA shall then submit the treaty to the Senate for concurrence.

While other key agencies like the Departments of Health, Labor and Employment, Science and Technology and Trade Industry have agreed to the treaty ratification, the DoE has yet to provide the DENR with its Certificate of Concurrence.

Among the groups who signed the letter to President Duterte and Secretaries Cayetano, Cimatu and Cusi were the Alyansa Tigil Mina, Arugaan, Associated Labor Unions, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Cavite Green Coalition, Center for Environmental Concerns, Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Green Convergence, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Interface Development Interventions, Inc., International Association of Oral Medicine & Toxicology, IPEN, Miriam College Environmental Studies Institute, Mother Earth Foundation, Oceana Philippines, Palawan NGO Network Inc., Pesticide Action Network, Public Services Independent Labor Confederation, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, Teachers Dignity Coalition, The Climate Reality Project Philippines, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, World Wide Fund for Nature and the Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippine Foundation, Inc.


-end-

Reference:




14 August 2017

Caloocan City: Barangay 178 Ordinance on Toxic CRTs Gets Rousing Support from Residents






Residents of Barangay 178 in Camarin, Caloocan City threw their unanimous support behind a timely health and environmental measure banning the unlawful breaking and dumping of toxic cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

CRTs, the glass video display component of television and computer sets, contain dangerous levels of lead and other hazardous substances, including barium, cadmium and fluorescent powders that must be handled and disposed of in an environmentally-sound manner.

At a well-attended public hearing held on August 12 and presided over by Barangay Chairperson Editha Labasbas, close to 500 residents voted overwhelmingly for the adoption of Barangay Ordinance No. 004, Series of 2017, which prohibits and penalizes the illegal breaking and disposal of CRTs in their area of jurisdiction.

“We laud Barangay 178 for taking a decisive move to curb toxic threats in their community from the reckless destruction and disposal of CRTs,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The ordinance authored by Councilor Rosalinda Frias and co-authored by Councilor Nida Quiza was in response to a report filed by the EcoWaste Coalition alerting the barangay and city authorities about the danger posed by discarded CRTs to the residents’ health and their environment.

Last March 5, 2017, the EcoWaste Coalition found piles of broken CRT glasses in several spots by the creekside and at the creek itself, which the group immediately reported to Labasbas and Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan.

“The action taken by Barangay 178 should encourage other communities to tackle the menace of e-waste and to support the government-led drive to safely manage CRTs,” Dizon added.

Dizon was referring to the five-year project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau, in cooperation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and other partners, towards the safe management of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) for electric cooperatives, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in e-wastes.

The plastic casings of CRTs often contain PBDEs, a class of toxic flame retardant chemicals targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The ordinance also noted that "the liquid-crystal display of some television and computer monitors are illuminated by cold cathode fluorescent lamps containing mercury, a chemical that is hazardous to human health and the environment."

"Barangay 178 is committed to preventing chemical pollution arising from the unsafe breaking and unlawful dumping of broken CRTs in the surroundings and waterways to safeguard the health and safety of its constituents and the ecosystems," the ordinance emphasized.

Violators of the ordinance shall pay a fine P300 and render three-hour community service for the first offense.

For the second offense, a fine of P500 shall be imposed plus five-hour community service.

For the third offense, violators shall be fined P1,000 and be required to do eight-hour community service. 

Barangay Ordinance 004-2017 shall take effect 15 days after submission to the Caloocan City Council for review and approval.

-end-

Reference:


13 August 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Industry Assurance that Latex Paints are Mercury-Free


The EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes, lauded the country’s paint manufacturers for assuring the public that latex paints being sold in
the market are free of mercury.

“We commend our paint makers for producing mercury-free water-based paint formulations. This augurs well for the industry’s progressive shift to lead-free solvent-based paints used for decorative and industrial applications.  This is really a good news for the Filipino family as both lead and mercury are known neurotoxins that are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and children,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Through a statement, the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) said that paint makers “have not used or have long since halted the use of mercury-based preservatives in latex paint formulations.”

Boysen and Davies, for example, have been making mercury-free latex paints since the late 1970s, way ahead of the US ban on mercury in interior latex paint in 1990 and exterior latex paint in 1991.

“The use of phenylmercuric acetate and other mercury compounds as biocide, fungicide or mildewcide, particularly in latex paints, is a thing of the past as alternative paint preservatives to prolong a product’s shelf-life without causing serious health risks are available in the raw materials market,” the PAPM said.

The PAPM made the statement amid the ongoing work to update the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order (AO) 1997-38, or the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Mercury and Mercury Compounds, in preparation for the country’s ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The PAPM is one with the government, industry and the civil society in promoting the ratification and implementation of the Minamata Convention, a globally binding agreement that aims to prevent and reduce mercury pollution to protect public health and the environment, the statement said.

The PAPM, in particular, poses no objection to the removal of the use of mercury and mercury compounds in paint manufacturing as an allowable use under DENR A.O. 1997-38, which was promulgated almost 20 years ago.

“Our strong support for mercury-free paint and for lead-safe paint is consistent with the industry thrust to provide the market with eco-friendly paints,  and in line with the DENR AO 2013-24, or the CCO for Lead and Lead Compounds, and the international goal of eliminating lead paint by 2020 as declared by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint,” the PAPM said.

The PAPM also reiterated its “commitment to greener innovations and to meaningful collaborations with the DENR, the EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN (a global civil society network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices) for the benefit of our customers and our nation.”

The paint industry statement is very timely as the Minamata Convention on Mercury is scheduled to enter into force on August 16, 2017.

-end-

10 August 2017

Open Letter to PRRD: PH Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

Photo by Lino Santos, MST

10 August 2017

Rodrigo Roa Duterte
President
Republic of the Philippines

Alan Peter S. Cayetano
Secretary
Department of Foreign Affairs

Roy A. Cimatu
Secretary
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Alfredo Cusi
Secretary
Department of Energy

cc: Geri Sañez, DENR-EMB; Amy de Guzman, DOE-ERTLS

Dear President Duterte, Secretary Cayetano, Secretary Cimatu and Secretary Cusi,

SUBJECT: RATIFICATION OF THE MINAMATA CONVENTION ON MERCURY

We, concerned groups and citizens, respectfully request your offices to work for the immediate ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and to secure the required Senate concurrence to its ratification prior to the First Conference of Parties (COP1).

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a globally-binding treaty that seeks to protect human health and the environment from mercury emissions and releases, will enter into force on 16 August 2017 and will have its COP1 on 24-29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. 

While the Philippines through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has already signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury on 10 October 2013, the government has yet to ratify this historic treaty named after the Japanese city that suffered heavily from decades-long mercury poisoning disaster.  To date, 74 governments, excluding the Philippines, have ratified the convention.

For the record, the Philippines actively and meaningfully participated in the mercury treaty negotiations from 2010-2013.  Also, our country has been pursuing progressive policies and programs to combat mercury pollution, including phasing out mercury-based medical devices in 2010 (DOH A.O. 2008-21), banning mercury use in mineral processing in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in 2012 (E.O.  79-2012), introducing extended producer responsibility for lighting products containing mercury in 2013 (Joint DENR-DOE A.O. 2013-09-0001),and prohibiting  over 135 mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics since 2010 to date (various FDA advisories).

Ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury will further strengthen our nation’s efforts to prevent, if not eliminate, threats of mercury pollution as this will allow the Philippines to effectively engage in the treaty processes, address gaps in existing regulations, and gain access to financial resources and beneficial technology transfer and capacity-building opportunities. 

In line with Executive Order 459, Series of 1997, we, therefore, request the DENR to endorse the treaty to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which shall then transmit it to President Duterte for his ratification.  Upon ratification, the DFA shall then submit the treaty to the Senate for concurrence.

Your earnest support and firm resolve will ensure that the Philippines will attend the COP1 as State Party to the Minamata Convention, and not as a mere observer.

We thank you very much for your swift action.

Sincerely yours,

Eileen B. Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition

Endorsed By:
Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition
Fr. Max Abalos, Action for Nurturing Children and Environment, Inc.
Dr. Maricar Limpin, Action on Smoking and Health – Philippines
Bon Labora, Agimat
Dr. Leah Paquiz, Ang Nars
Jaybee Garganera, Alyansa Tigil Mina
Bobot Madjos, Baganga Alumni Association, Davao Oriental
Ines Fernandez, Arugaan
Gerard Seno, Associated Labor Unions – TUCP
Michael Mendoza, Associated Labor Unions – TUCP
Doy Medes, Bahayang Pag-asa - Cavite
Joey Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Ronnie Royo, Bayay Sibuyanon Inc.
Joy Reyes, Better Country Community Foundation
Francis Manucdoc, Brotherhood Christian Businessmen and Professionals
Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao
Ghie Relova, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino – National Capital Region
Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
Owen Migraso, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines
Fr. Robert Reyes, Center for Environment Network
Rei Panaligan, Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology
Elsie Brandes de Veyra, Citizen Organization Advocating for Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Rene Pineda, Consumer Rights for Safe Food
Alice Topacio Diocesan Ministry on Ecology - Cavite 
Abigail Bagnes, Earth-UST
Heidi Pandoy, Eco Marino
Antonio Claparols, Ecological Society of the Philippines
Marlon Pareja, Environmental Resource Management Center, DLSU-Dasmarinas
Roberto Del Rosario, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines
Merci Ferrer, Friends of the Environment Negros Oriental
Froilan Grate, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives - Philippines
Dr. Angelina Galang, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy
Yeb Saño, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Pablo Sanchez, Gulayan People's Neighborhood Association, Inc.
Ramon San Pascual, Health Care Without Harm – Asia
Milagros S. Serrana, Hills of Maia Alta Homeowners Association
Cris Parungao, Integrative Medicine for Alternative Healthcare Systems
Chinkie Pelino, Interface Development Interventions, Inc.
Mitos Rivera, Institute for Reproductive Health Philippines
Dr. Lillian Lasaten Ebuen, International Association of Oral Medicine & Toxicology- Philippines
Manny C. Calonzo, IPEN
Evelyn Galang, Kapatiran Komunidad People's Coalition
Corazon Javate, KASAMA Cooperative
Betty Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc.
Neneng Jocson, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Rosario Pareja, Lasallian Community Development Center
Victor Sumampong, Jr, Ligdung Sumbanan alang sa mga Kabataan sa Sugbo
Abet Gavino, Mascara GSF
Nancy Carlos, Ministry sa Pangangalaga sa Kalikasan – Divine Mercy
Aurea Gotopeng, Mother Butler Mission Guild
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation
Edith Capule, Nueva Ecija Development Exchange
Rodolfo Mendoza, Nueva Ecija Person With Disability Cooperative
Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Oceana Philippines
Felina Delfin, Outreach Philipiines, Inc.
Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI)
Atty. Girlie de Guzman, PANLIPI-Tanggapang Panligal ng Katutubong Pilipino
Vicky Segovia, Partnership for Clean Air
Dr. Romy Quijano, Pesticide Action Network – Philippines
Yolly Esguerra, Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc.
Mercy Donor, Piglas Kababaihan
Annie Geron, Public Services Independent Labor Confederation
Nipomoceno Bibon, ROTCHNA Daycare Center Inc.
Analyn Enungan, SACARBEMCO, Compostela Valley
Ben Galindo, Sagip Pasig Movement
Bro. Martin Francisco, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society
Joyet Castor, Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative
Angelito Ferreras, Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative
Delia Camacho, Sarilaya Cavite
Rogelio Salgado, Save Maragundon River – Cavite
Armin Olores, Save Water of Indang Movement - Cavite
Josua Mata, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa
Ma. Luz Antiga, Tanglaw Mindanao
Benjo Basas, Teachers Dignity Coalition
Rodne Galicha, The Climate Reality Project Philippines
Atty. Raymond Mendoza, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines
Jose Angelito Palma, World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines
Vicky Martires, Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippine Foundation, Inc.
Orly Gallano, Zone One Tondo Organization
Sister Arnold Maria Noel, SSpS
Former Senator Nene Pimentel
Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan