15 November 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Trudeau’s Statement on Canadian Garbage Issue with Cautious Optimism


The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the pronouncement made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his press conference yesterday indicating that the festering garbage shipments from Canada could be repatriated to its origin.

“We welcome the fact that he discussed this drawn out dumping controversy with President Rodrigo Duterte and committed to follow up on the matter.  Like many of our colleagues, we are cautiously optimistic that Canada will be able to take their garbage back, but they should do it with greater urgency, and commit to making sure such unethical and unlawful dumping never happen again in the future,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The EcoWaste Coalition, together with our partners in the environmental justice movement in the Philippines and in Canada, will remain alert and not let our guard down knowing that the re-export of the trash shipments is only a theoretical possibility at this time,” she said.

Zero Waste Canada, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to helping end the age of wasting through better design and education, recently emailed the EcoWaste Coalition affirming their “support in this much too long ordeal,” saying “we will continue to shine a light on this until it is resolved.


Trudeau yesterday told the press “it is now theoretically possible to take it back,” adding the legal obstacles have been addressed.

"Canadian legal regulations prevented us from being able to receive the waste back to Canada. We had legal barriers and restrictions that prevented us from taking it back, but that's done now," he said, noting “there’s still a number of questions around who would pay for it.”

 “Compared to the vague statement he made in 2015 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit, what Trudeau said this time offers a glimmer of hope for a country like ours that is struggling with our own garbage woes,” Lucero observed.

Trudeau disappointed environmentalists when he vaguely stated in 2015 that a “Canadian solution” is being developed, but made no firm declaration of re-importing his country’s garbage.


“We trust the Canadian government will be able to quickly address the remaining financial and legal questions, so as not to delay the shipping of the overstaying trash back to Canada.  We have waited for so long and we want to put this controversy behind us,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

For her part, Abigail Aguilar, Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said:  “While we appreciate the soundbyte, we hope that this pronouncement does not remain a ‘theory’ but a ‘fulfilled promise.’ The Canadian waste issue has long been swept under the rug. This stinking problem needs to be resolved as soon as possible and we hope that it does not wait for another two years, another APEC or ASEAN Summit for it to happen." 

It will be recalled that a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling arrived in the Philippines from Canada in 2013-2014.  

Customs inspectors intercepted the garbage shipments by Chronic Inc. (a Canadian company) to Chronic Plastics (a Filipino company) after being alerted by the Environmental Management Bureau about the misdeclared trash imports.  

Importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon were subsequently charged in court for violation of Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990) and tariff and customs laws.


A waste analysis and characterization study conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2014 showed that 64% of the shipments were “bailed municipal solid waste or garbage destined for immediate local disposal and cannot be recycled.”

Such garbage shipments, according to the DENR, “are strictly prohibited to be exported and are classified as Waste No. Y46 listed in Annex II of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.”

Twenty-six of the 103 container vans of Canadian garbage were illegally disposed of at a private landfill in Tarlac in June–July 2015, angering local officials and residents and galvanizing citizens’ opposition against foreign waste disposal in the country.

In June 2016, Judge Tita Bughao-Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 1) ordered the return of the 50 shipping containers covered by Criminal Case No. 143-11191, emphasizing that the Philippines is not a “trash bin” and that the dumping incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”  The court order has yet to be complied with.

Ang Nars Partylist, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Public Services Independent Labor Confederation, and the Samahan ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa are intervenors in the said case.



-end-

13 November 2017

Calls for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Take Canadian Garbage Home Mount after He Ordered Food for Take-Out in a Restaurant Not Far from where the Rotting Trash Shipments are Stored (Environmentalists Press PM Trudeau to Take Garbage Out of the Philippines)




The unresolved dumping scandal involving the bungled shipment of 103 container vans of residual garbage from Canada that arrived in the Philippines in batches from 2013 to 2014 continues to haunt Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who first visited the country in 2015 for the APEC Summit.

The visiting Canadian leader faces mounting calls to take the rotting garbage home after his much-publicized out of schedule visit to a popular fastfood restaurant that is few minutes away from the Port of Manila where the illegal trash imports from Canada are stored.

“While we do not have any problem with PM Trudeau stopping by a 100% Filipino-owned restaurant, he should have gone as well to the nearby port to see for himself the reeking Canadian trash shipments and right there and then made the announcement to take the garbage out of the Philippines.  That act would have merited greater media mileage, and endeared him to all Filipinos,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“PM Trudeau cannot skip the Canadian garbage issue with another vague statement like what he did in 2015 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit.  Evading the issue again will badly reflect on his capacity and sincerity as a global leader, and will only mean he doesn’t really care about the rotting trash in our port and their adverse impacts to our health, environment and to our dignity as a sovereign nation,” she emphasized. 

"Years after these tons of waste were dumped in the Philippines, and two years after PM Trudeau last visited the Philippines, the Filipinos are still waiting for the Canadian government to act and take back their waste. Until when is the Canadian government going to ignore this festering issue? We continue to call on PM Trudeau to show real leadership and end this madness as soon as possible. I hope PM Trudeau does not let this become Canada's legacy in the Philippines," said Abigail Aguilar, Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Dr. Angelina Galang, President, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, stressed “no country deserves to be a dumping ground for another country’s rubbish.  Canada has no option but to re-import their trash and to guarantee that such unethical act will never occur again.”
  
“PM Trudeau should uphold the highest good of his office before the international community by complying with his country’s legally bounded treaty commitment disallowing the transboundary shipments of hazardous waste,” said Rene Pineda, President, Consumer Rights for Safe Food.

Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation, “remains hopeful that PM Trudeau will not leave the Philippines without confirming Canada’s commitment to get back their garbage in line with international law and in the spirit of environmental justice.” 

“The botched Canadian trash shipments are in violation of national and international laws that are meant to safeguard our country from the transboundary transfer of hazardous waste and other wastes.  As a respected member of the global community, we hope Canada will finally do the right thing and repossess their garbage for proper disposal in Canada,” stated Atty. Amang Mejia, Counsel of the EcoWaste Coalition and other intervenors in a criminal case filed by the government against the importers of the Canadian garbage.

Twenty-six of the 103 container vans of Canadian garbage were illegally disposed of at a private landfill in Tarlac in June–July 2015, angering local officials and residents and galvanizing citizens’ opposition against foreign waste disposal in the country.

In June 2016, Judge Tita Bughao-Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 1) ordered the return of the 50 shipping containers covered by Criminal Case No. 143-11191, emphasizing that the Philippines is not a “trash bin” and that the dumping incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”  The court order has yet to be complied with.

Ang Nars Partylist, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Public Services Independent Labor Confederation, and the Samahan ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa are intervenors in the said case versus importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon for violation of Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990).

-end-

Honest Uber Driver Gets Kudos from Environmental Group

A very grateful Thony Dizon (left) gets the XRF device back from Uber driver Francisco Martin.
The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental group, profusely thanked Mr. Francisco “Toto” Martin, an honest Uber driver residing in Parañaque City, for returning a very expensive chemicals screening device worth P1.8 million that was left behind in his vehicle.  Martin is the driver of a white Mitsubishi Adventure van with plate number NQ 2484.

On early Sunday morning of November 12, 2017, Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition ordered a ride with Uber from Matalino St. to Quezon Memorial Circle for the launch of the group’s annual drive for safe and non-toxic toys.  Martin accepted Dizon’s order and brought him and his wife Nora to the requested destination.  Unfortunately, the luggage-like case containing the group’s X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device was accidentally left behind the car. 

Dizon then reported the matter via Uber app but was unable to get in touch with Martin.  A frantic Dizon then went to the nearest police station to report the incident.  An hour after filing a police report, Dizon finally got hold of Martin.  A meeting was arranged in Taguig City and the XRF device was finally returned to Dizon on the same day.

“We are very grateful to Kuya Toto for his honesty and cooperation.  The XRF is not only expensive.  It is a very important advocacy tool that has allowed our group to screen products such as toys, childcare articles, school supplies, cosmetics and paints for toxic chemicals that are damaging to human health and the environment.  This device is probably our best performing asset that has contributed to increasing consumer awareness about chemicals in products, and to exposing hazardous products in the marketplace.”

“We thank Kuya Toto from the bottom of our hearts for his honesty and service.  He is an outstanding Uber driver indeed,” said Dizon.

12 November 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Campaigns for Children’s Right to Safe Games and Toys to Play With ahead of the ASEAN Summit






As presidents, prime ministers and other influential leaders from the government and the industry converge in the Philippines for the 31st  ASEAN Summit and related meetings, a group of young children, along with their parents and teachers, gathered in Quezon City on Sunday morning to tackle an issue that may not even get cited in any of the conference declarations and statements: the right of children to safe games and toys to play with.

At the launch of the EcoWaste Coalition’s annual advocacy for safe and non-toxic toys, over 150 children joined the fun and music-filled event to call attention to the importance of protecting children from unsafe playthings in the ASEAN and the domestic marketplace.

The event coincided with two historic milestones: the 3rd  anniversary of the adoption by the Commission of Human Rights of “The People’s Right to Chemical Safety: A 15-Point Human Rights Agenda” on November 14, and the 28th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20.


“Through our event today, we hope to draw society’s support to efforts aimed at ensuring children’s access to safe and non-hazardous playthings that will contribute to their full intellectual, emotional and physical development, especially during their formative years,” explained Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Children will easily fall victims to the hidden dangers of low-quality and improperly labeled toys, hence the need to protect them from such dangers that are often unnoticeable to the naked eye,” he said.

"We seek greater cooperation among ASEAN member states and their dialogue partners, particularly China, to safeguard all children from the illegal and unethical trade of toys that are not guaranteed safe for children's use," he added.

During the event, Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President of Laban Konsyumer, Inc. stressed the importance of enforcing R.A. 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013.

“Over four years have lapsed since the law was approved and we wonder if its Implementing Rules and Regulations will ever see the light of day this year.  We have to push for the implementation of this law, which imposes special labeling for games and toys to protect children against potential hazards to their health and safety,” said Dimagiba, a former Department of Trade and Industry undersecretary.

Pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio warned that toys that have not undergone quality and safety assessment may contain health-damaging chemicals such as cadmium, lead, mercury, phthalates and other hazardous substances.

“Children are exposed to these toxic chemicals that can leach out when they put toys inside their mouth or suck toys containing such substances.  Chronic exposure to these chemicals even at low levels may put the growth and development of children at risk,” said Antonio, a doctor at the East Avenue Medical Center.


Chronic exposure to lead even at low doses, for instance, can harm a child’s health over time, affect brain development and result to decreased intelligence as measured by IQ tests, reduced school performance and behavioral problems.
Aside from chemical risk, the EcoWaste Coalition identified other common hazards in toys that consumers should be cautious about, including loose or small parts that may be swallowed and cause breathing difficulties or choking;  pointed or sharp edges that may injure the eyes or cause cuts and grazes;  and cords longer than 12 inches that cause strangulation.
With Christmas toy shopping spree fast approaching, the EcoWaste Coalition came up with an eight-point “Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys.” Safe toys must be 1) age-appropriate, 2) well-made,  3) no small parts, 4) string shorter than 12 inches, 5) injury-free, 6) not coated with lead paint, 7) not made up of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, and 8) duly labeled and registered.


During the event, the EcoWaste Coalition screened toys brought by the participating children for toxic metals using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

Among the participants were children, parents and teachers from Buklod Kabataan, ROTCHNA Daycare Center, and the San Vicente Elementary School.

-end-

11 November 2017

Groups Blast PM Justin Trudeau for Failing to Solve Canadian Garbage Dumping Row





Environmental justice advocates from various sectors today slammed visiting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the failure of his leadership to put the lingering Canadian garbage controversy to rest.

At a press briefing held at Eurotel EDSA in Quezon City, activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes, Ang Nars Partylist Rep. Leah Paquiz, labor leader Joanna Bernice Coronacion, and zero waste advocate Aileen Lucero expressed utter dismay over the failure of the so-called “Canadian solution” to remove the tons of residual trash illegally sent to the Philippines from Canada under the guise of recycling.

On the sidelines of the APEC Summit held in the Philippines in 2015, Trudeau stated that a “Canadian solution (was) being developed” to plug the loopholes being used by private companies to ship garbage out of Canada, but skirted the issue of taking back the illegal trash shipments as demanded by various quarters.

“Almost two years have passed since PM Trudeau talked about the so-called ‘Canadian solution’ and the garbage-filled container vans are still languishing in the Port of Manila,” lamented Dr. Leah Paquiz, representative of Ang Nars Partylist in the 16th Congress.  

“The real test of the efficacy of the ‘Canadian solution’ is the actual removal of these illegal trash shipments from our territory, the payment for the storage fees and  other costs incurred, and the fixing of legal ambiguities that allowed the garbage to be shipped out of Canada,” she pointed out.

“We further demand that both Canada and the Philippines should ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the transboundary movement of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries even for recycling,” she added.

For activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes, “the overstaying containers of contraband garbage shipments in our port provide a stinking evidence that the touted ‘Canadian solution’ is nothing but a hollow word.”  He said “it’s high time for the Prime Minister to do what is just and righteous, as his name Justin stands for, intercede and re-import the unlawful garbage consignments for environmentally-sound disposal in Canada.  Nothing less than this will put the dumping scandal to rest." He added "ang pinakamasaklap sa lahat ay ang ituring tayong mga Pilipino na basura o basurahan ng Canada."

“We are awfully disappointed to say the least over the apparent failure of the Canadian government to correct a clear case of environmental injustice committed against our nation and people, especially to our port and waste and sanitation workers who have to deal with the dumped foreign garbage.  We could not help but censure PM Trudeau for his lethargic response to resolve the garbage dumping scandal,” said Joanna Bernice Coronacion, Deputy Secretary General of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa. 

“We insist that Canada should take their garbage back now.  We hope PM Trudeau is not waiting for the discarded adult diapers, household wastes and mostly plastic residuals to break down in the container vans as that might take hundreds of years.  Canada is rich and unquestionably capable of managing its rubbish in a proper manner that will not jeopardize public health and the environment,” said, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

To put it bluntly, “the Philippine is not Canada’s dumpsite,” said Annie Geron, President of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK).  “PM Trudeau, clean as you go.  Take your garbage with you!”

It will be recalled that a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling were exported to the Philippines from Canada in 2013-2014.  

The Bureau of Customs seized the said shipments by Chronic Inc. (a Canadian company) to Chronic Plastics (a Filipino company) after being alerted by the Environmental Management Bureau about the misdeclared waste imports.  The authorities eventually charged the consignee for violations of the country’s environmental, tariff and customs laws. 

A waste analysis and characterization study conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed that 64% of the shipments were “bailed municipal solid waste or garbage destined for immediate local disposal and cannot be recycled.”

Such garbage shipments, according to the DENR, “are strictly prohibited to be exported and are classified as Waste No. Y46 listed in Annex II of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.”

Twenty-six of the garbage-filled container vans from Canada were illegally dumped at the Metro Clark landfill in Capas, Tarlac in June-July 2015, causing public outcry and galvanizing vocal opposition against foreign waste disposal in local landfills. 

In June 2016, Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 1) ordered the return of 50 shipping containers (approximately 1,400 tons) of illegal garbage imports from Canada, stressing that the Philippines is not  a “trash bin” and that the dumping incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”

As Criminal Case No. 143-11191 was limited only to 50 of the 103 container vans of illegal Canadian trash imports, civil society groups urged Canada, in the spirit of environmental justice, to voluntarily ensure the repatriation of all the illegal garbage shipments.  

Ang Nars, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, PSLINK and SENTRO are  intervenors in the said case versus importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon for violation of R.A. 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990. 

-end-


08 November 2017

PM Justin Trudeau Told: Rotting Garbage from Canada Still on Philippine Soil



Environmental, health and labor groups appealed anew to the Canadian government to take responsibility for the illegal garbage shipments from Vancouver rotting in the Port of Manila for years.

The groups asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is scheduled to visit the Philippines for the ASEAN Summit, to unilaterally take Canada’s rubbish out of the Philippines to put the long drawn out garbage scandal to rest.

“PM Trudeau’s action is crucial to remove all barriers to Canada’s re-importation of its own garbage that were exported to our country not for recycling, but for disposal,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  “We’re running out of room for our own garbage and the dumping of waste from overseas is only making the situation worst. Canada is rich and undeniably capable of handling its own refuse in a safe manner.”

“The prolonged delay in returning the reeking trash to Canada is patently unjust for our country and people.  It’s high time for PM Trudeau to decisively act to stop waste dumping, including ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the movement of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries for any reason even for recycling,” said Dr. Leah Paquiz, former representative of the Ang Nars Party-List in the 16th Congress.

“As the source of the illicit trash shipments, the ball is in Canada’s court.  PM Trudeau could bring an end to this controversy that has festered for far too long by taking the garbage back and doing other corrective actions, including paying the Philippines for the costs incurred in dealing with Canada’s discarded adult diapers, domestic wastes, plastics and other residuals,” said Josua Mata, Secretary-General of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa and Progresibong Manggagawa. 

It will be recalled that between 2013-2014, a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling were exported to the Philippines from Canada. 

The Bureau of Customs seized the said shipments by Chronic Inc. (a Canadian company) to Chronic Plastics (a Filipino company) after being alerted by the Environmental Management Bureau about the misrepresented waste imports.  The authorities eventually charged the consignee for violations of the country’s environmental, tariff and customs laws.

Subsequent waste characterization study conducted by the Philippine government revealed that 64% of the shipments were residual garbage that could no longer be recycled and should be properly disposed of. 

In June-July 2015, 26 of these garbage-filled containers were illegally disposed at the Metro Clark landfill in Capas, Tarlac causing public outcry and galvanizing vocal opposition against foreign waste disposal in local landfills.

In November 2015, Trudeau, who was in Manila for the APEC Summit, announced that a “Canadian solution (was) being developed” to fix the loopholes that led to the illegal garbage exports, but made no commitment to take the trash back.

In June 2016, Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 1) ordered the return of 50 shipping containers (approximately 1,400 tons) of illegal garbage imports from Canada, stressing that the Philippines is not  a “trash bin” and that the dumping incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”

As the case was limited only to 50 of the 103 container vans of illegal Canadian trash imports, civil society groups urged Canada, in the spirit of environmental justice, to voluntarily ensure the repatriation of all the illegal garbage shipments. 

“To avoid further embarrassment that would come with another legal decision, we suggest that Canada should just take back all its garbage, including those not covered by the said case,” the groups said.


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06 November 2017

Consumers Urged to Shun Skin Whitening Cosmetics with Toxic Mercury (Group Pushes for ASEAN-Wide Action to Halt Illegal Trade in Mercury-Containing Cosmetics)

 Imported skin whitening cosmetics containing high concentrations of mercury.
 A vendor sells unregistered skin lightening products from Pakistan.
Skin whitening cosmetics illegally imported from Pakistan (the yellow one in the middle is already banned by the FDA).
Goree skin whitening creams from Pakistan banned by the FDA for containing toxic mercury.

In support of the ongoing National Skin Disease Detection and Prevention Week from November 6 to 12, a non-profit toxics watch group cautioned consumers from buying mercury-tainted whitening cosmetics that can seriously harm the skin.

Also known as the Skinweek, the week-long advocacy spearheaded by the Philippine Dermatological Society in cooperation with the Department of Health aims to promote early skin disease detection and prevention, and proper dermatological care.

“Instead of the lighter, smoother and flawless skin complexion, the use of mercury-laced whitening cosmetics can cause skin discoloring, rashes and scarring, while weakening the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Health experts have warned that direct and prolonged exposure to mercury in cosmetics through repeated applications on the skin can also cause damage to the brain, the central nervous system, and the kidneys,” he added.

“Consumers can best protect themselves against mercury exposure by accepting their natural skin complexion and avoiding the use of adulterated, counterfeit,  improperly labeled and unregistered cosmetics, which may contain banned substances,” Dizon said.

To alert consumers, especially women and youth, on the continued sale of skin whitening cosmetics containing violative concentrations of mercury, the EcoWaste Coalition yesterday bought samples of such products from retailers in Manila and Pasay Cities.

The 12  products, costing P60 to P280 each, were found to contain mercury above the maximum allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

As per screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence chemicals analyzer, the products (all imported and unregistered) contained mercury from 1,100 to 39,200 ppm.

Nine of these mercury-tainted products were among those already banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including Goree Day and Night Whitening Cream Oil Free and Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera from Pakistan, which the FDA banned last October 30.

Here is the complete list of the skin whitening products bought and screened for mercury by the EcoWaste Coalition:

Yu Dan Tang Ginseng & Green Cucumber 10-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream, 39,200 ppm
Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera, 23,400 ppm
Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream Oil Free, 20,900 ppm 
Parley Herbal Beauty Cream with Avocado, 15,600 ppm
Parley Beauty Cream, 12,000 ppm
Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, 11,600 ppm
Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, 11,100 ppm
Feique Herbal Extract Chinese Formula Whitening Anti-Freckle Set, 4,296 ppm 
Erna Whitening Cream, 3,916 ppm
Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 2,053 ppm
S’Zitang 7-Day Specific Whitening & Spot AB Set, 2,042 ppm
Temulawak Day & Night Beauty Whitening Cream, 1,100 ppm

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that other ASEAN states, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand, have on various occasions banned or recalled skin whitening cosmetics due to their high mercury content.

The Philippines acting alone cannot stop the smuggling of mercury-loaded cosmetics into its porous borders, the group said. 

“It has to address the problem through bilateral and multilateral initiatives within and outside the ASEAN framework to put an end to the unlawful trade,” the group said.

The EcoWaste Coalition has suggested an ASEAN-wide action to halt the illegal trade of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics, including strengthening the product alert program of the ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection to guide consumers, businessmen and government regulators, including customs inspectors, on banned and recalled goods.

ASEAN countries, particularly the Philippines, should pursue the national ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which seeks to protect public health and the environment from toxic mercury, the group said.

-end-     

Reference:

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/472052-fda-advisory-no-2017-289

04 November 2017

QC NGOs Back City Ordinance Banning Firecrackers for Health and Environment


Various non-government organizations (NGOs) in Quezon City lauded the enactment of an ordinance imposing a total ban on firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices as an essential health, environmental and safety measure worth replicating by other local government units (LGUs).

Quezon City Ordinance No. 2618, Series of 2017, introduced by Councilor Ranulfo Ludovica and
 co-introduced by 31 other councilors and subsequently approved by Mayor Herbert Bautista last October 13, prohibits the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices in all public places of the city during festivities and other occasions.

According to the authors, “as a matter of public safety, there is an imperative need  to prohibit the use or play of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices in all public places in Quezon City to prevent untimely deaths, injuries and damage to properties.”


"Public places," according to the ordinance, cover any "street, road, alley, thoroughfare, open space, plaza, park, basketball court, and other similar places."


“We laud our local officials for enacting this ordinance that promises health and environmental benefits beyond measure for the people of
Quezon City.  We await the promulgation of its implementing rules and regulations, and the initiation of an effective information drive that should target and involve the grassroots.  Metro Manila and the whole nation will be watching as Quezon City enforces its ban on firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices for the common good,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Children are at high risk for firecracker-related injuries that can seriously maim or kill.  Year in and year out, we hear stories of kids burning their skins, losing their fingers and having irreplaceable body parts amputated due to misuse of firecrackers. 
Quezon City’s ban on firecrackers, which all parents should support, will put an end to these gory stories,” said Ines Fernandez, founder of Arugaan, a breastfeeding advocacy group promoting child and maternal health.

Clean air advocate Tessa Oliva, Executive Director of Green Convergence, said: “
Quezon City’s ban on firecrackers is good news for our noses and lungs as it will cut the discharge of dirty and toxic fumes that we inhale, which can aggravate the health conditions of adults and kids, especially those with asthma and other respiratory ailments.  Since air pollutants know no boundaries, we hope other LGUs will ban firecrackers and fireworks as well.”

“With the ban on firecrackers, we hope to see cleaner streets come New Year’s Day.  We look forward to ushering in 2018 with no more firecracker wrappers and debris to sweep and dispose of.  The ban will surely cut the quantity and toxicity of residual waste that our communities throw away during New Year and other special occasions,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.


For Anna Cabrera, Executive Director of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, “the prohibition on firecrackers will be very beneficial to animals, especially for pet as well as stray cats and dogs who suffer a lot from the ear-splitting sounds of firecracker explosions,” adding that “other LGUs should follow
Quezon City’s example.”

“As a resident of an urban poor community in Quezon City, the ban of firecrackers, we hope, will reduce the threat of fires in our neighborhood, as well as put more nutritious food on the table with the money saved from not buying firecrackers,” said Mercy Donor of Piglas Kababaihan.  


According to the Ordinance No. 2618, “it shall be unlawful for any person to use or play firecrackers or pyrotechnic devices in all public places of Quezon City during festivity or for any occasion, unless a clearance is obtained from the Department of Public Order and Safety.”


“It shall be the duty of the Punong Barangays to strictly enforce the provisions of this Ordinance within their respective territorial jurisdiction.
  The Department of Public Order and Safety and the Quezon City Police District shall extend assistance for the purpose,” it said.

“Any person found to be violating the provisions of this Ordinance shall be penalized by a fine of P5,000 or an imprisonment of one year, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court,” it stated.



-end-

03 November 2017

Samsung Workers on the Line: Unique Report Reveals the Lives of Vietnamese Women Workers Making the Samsung Smart Phones in Your Pocket

03 November 2017

http://www.ipen.org/news/samsung-workers-line%C2%A0unique-report-reveals-lives-vietnamese-women-workers-making-samsung-smart
FULL REPORT

(Göteborg, Sweden) In an unprecedented study on the experiences of women working at two Samsung factories in Vietnam, a report released this week documents health and workplace violations by the electronics industry giant. The workers’ experiences of frequent fainting, dizziness, miscarriages, standing for eight-to-twelve hours, and alternating day/night shift work are documented in a report released this week by the Hanoi-based Research Center for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) and IPEN, a global network of environment and health NGOs working to reduce harmful chemicals. 

Samsung dominates the global phone market as well as the electronics sector and economy of Vietnam, where 50% of its smart phones are produced. The electronics sector is a significant area of growth for Vietnam, as electronics exports outpace other exports. However, Vietnam has no labor codes specifically protecting the health of electronics industry workers, who are overwhelmingly women.

The study combines industrial sector research and qualitative narratives of 45 workers, and is the first of its kind in Vietnam to shed light on the experiences of the predominantly female electronics industry workers. Because Samsung is notoriously secretive, it offers a rare glimpse into life on the Samsung factory floor. 

Key Findings:

- All workers reported extreme fatigue, fainting and dizziness at work.
Workers reported that miscarriages are extremely common—even expected.

- Workers must stand throughout their 8-to-12-hour shifts and many are kept on alternating day and night shift schedules, regardless of weekends.

- Pregnant workers usually stand for the entire shift to avoid having the company deduct money from their wages for taking breaks. 

- More than half of the interviewed women have children, but they are separated from them. The children live with their grandparents in another town or city.

- Workers reported problems with eyesight, nose bleeds, and stomach aches, as well as bone, joint, and leg pain.

- Workers’ lives are controlled inside and outside of work. Breaks are short and limited, and workers must request special passes to use the restroom. Workers are restricted from speaking about work because of fear of reprisals.

- The need for further research regarding chemical exposure is necessary. Despite the fact that workers are stationed in open factory settings where other workers use a variety of substances, they did not consider assembly line work a chemical risk.

The study, says the Hanoi-based research group that conducted the research, is a rare opportunity for consumers and policy makers to learn about the harsh working conditions that the female workers making the ubiquitous phones must endure.

“We hope that people buying smart-phones will be more aware of the workers on the assembly lines making their phones,” said Ms. Pham Thi Minh Hang from CGFED. “The women we interviewed endure ongoing labor code violations, workplace dangers and health hazards. All the women reported dizziness or fainting at work. This is not normal. They reported inhumane overtime and intense production demands. Workers are often prevented from speaking out about their working conditions by company rules that claim all expressions about life inside the factory constitute trade secrets. We hope that the information in this report will bring about better protections for workers, and that consumers will demand decent working conditions for workers who make the electronics in their homes and pockets.”

The report underscores the need for better protections for Vietnam’s large and growing electronics work force, and the need for transparency around industrial chemicals used throughout electronics production.

“This study is important because the lives and rights of workers in the electronics industry in Vietnam have been neglected in research and policy,” said Joe DiGangi, PhD., IPEN Senior Science and Technical Advisor. “Companies make a lot of money in Vietnam, but their profit rests on the tired shoulders of the female-majority workforce. Comprehensive regulations should be developed and enforced to ensure worker safety in the electronics industry. Economic development must be concerned not just with GDP, but equally consider impacts on the health of workers and communities in developing and transition country economies where the electronics industry is rapidly expanding.”

02 November 2017

Environmental Watch Group Laments Garbage Left by Cemetery Visitors (Littering Has Again Reared Its Ugly Head Says EcoWaste Coalition)

 Manila North Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila North Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila North Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila South Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila South Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila South Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Loyola Memorial Park-Marikina, November 1, 2017
 Loyola Memorial Park-Marikina, November 1, 2017
 Loyola Memorial Park-Marikina, November 1, 2017
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, November 1, 2017
Taguig Public Cemetery, November 1, 2017

A waste and pollution watch group has expressed its utter dismay over the widespread littering in some cemeteries that again marred the observance of Undas.

“We’re downright disappointed by the inconsiderate behavior of some people who simply discarded their trash in cemeteries as if littering forms part of our time-cherished tradition of remembering our departed loved ones,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Despite the lower turnout of people due to the rainy weather, the group lamented the indiscriminate dumping of paper and Styrofoam containers, plastic bags, bottles and cups, donut and pizza boxes, snack packs and wrappers, food leftovers, and soiled diapers and newspapers inside the congested burial sites.

“Sharing a meal and prayer together at the cemetery is perfectly fine.  But leaving your discards behind is totally shameful, and very disrespectful for the dead,” Alejandre said.

Based on the trash monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition in 21 public and private cemeteries in Metro Manila and Rizal Province, the North Cemetery in Manila City, South Cemetery in Makati City, Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City, and Bagbag Public Cemetery in Quezon City were litter hotspots with mounds of garbage dotting the cemetery streets and alleys.

The unrestrained littering in these cemeteries makes a mockery of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits and penalizes the indiscriminate disposal of waste matters, the group observed.  As per R.A. 9003, litterbugs could be fined P300 to P1,000 and/or be required to render community service from one to 15 days.

“Local governments would have made a killing in just one day if litterbugs were dutifully apprehended and fined.  Regrettably, the lax enforcement of R.A. 9003 only encourages individuals to strew garbage around cemeteries, creating unsightly trash heaps and posing health risks,” lamented Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The North and South Cemeteries were by and large clean in the early hours of the morning, but the situation drastically changed as thousands upon thousands of visitors arrived to pay homage to the dead.  By noontime, garbage has piled up everywhere, the group observed. 

Rampant littering was observed at Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City in stark contrast with the clean and tidy Loyola Memorial Park in Parañaque City.

In contrast to its spanking new administration building, Bagbag Public Cemetery was littered with assorted trash just like in 2016 and 2015.  In a letter sent last year to Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, the group reported that ‘Bagbag was found to be most littered with garbage strewn all over the area.” 

On the other hand, the group found a number of cemeteries “generally clean,” including the Caloocan Public Cemetery and Eternal Garden in Caloocan City; Tugatog Public Cemetery in Malabon City; San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery in Mandaluyong City;  Aglipay Cemetery, Barangka Cemetery, Holy Child Memorial Park and the Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Cemetery in Marikina City; Loyola Memorial Park and Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City; Garden of Memories in Pateros; Aglipay Cemetery, Hagonoy Public Cemetery and Tipas Catholic Cemetery in Taguig City; Heaven’s Gate Memorial Garden in Antipolo City; and the Angono Municipal Cemetery in Angono, Rizal.

While littering was not widespread, the group saw a mini-dumpsite inside the Taguig Public Cemetery.  

“If other cemeteries can keep trash to the minimum, we don’t see why others cannot make it happen, especially if there’s a will to enforce the full extent of R.A. 9003. Hope springs eternal,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

While assailing litterbugs for their bad behavior, the EcoWaste Coalition acknowledged the hundreds of eco-aides, street sweepers, waste pickers, and Tzu Chi recycling volunteers for their environmental services during the observance of Undas, rain or shine.
            
-end-

31 October 2017

Cemetery Visitors Urged Not to Burn Candles with Lead-Cored Wicks



The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, urged the public to shun imported candles with lead-cored wicks to avoid inhaling health-damaging lead fumes.

The group aired the warning as candle vendors enjoy brisk sales with the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the country.

“While the wicks of locally-made candles are often made of braided cotton, some imported candles contain lead-based metal wire inside the wicks that pose safety hazards,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“These candles can emit lead fumes when burned that can contaminate the air and the surroundings with dangerous concentrations of lead, a potent neurotoxin,” he said.

“Based on our experience, leaded wick candles are often sold by specialty stores selling Chinese prayer articles,” he pointed out.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responding to the request made by the EcoWaste Coalition, issued a “Public Health Advisory on Lead-Cored Wick Candles” in December 2016.

“We went to Chinese candle retailers in Binondo immediately after the issuance of the FDA Advisory, but we are not sure if the importation, distribution and sale of such toxic candles have totally halted,” Dizon said.

FDA Advisory 2016-146 warned “the public against the purchase and use of all candles with wicks containing lead, candles in metal containers that contain lead, and wicks sold for candle-making that contain lead as an imminent hazard to the public health.”

“As a lead-cored wick candle burns, some of the lead may vaporize and be released into the air.  This airborne lead may be inhaled and may deposit onto floors, furniture and other surfaces in the room where children may be exposed to it,” the advisory said.

Exposure to lead emissions, the FDA warned “can result in increased blood lead levels in unborn babies, babies and young children,” adding that “other toxic effects includes neurological damage, delayed mental and physical development, and attention and learning deficiencies.”

To protect public health and the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to observe the following safety precautions when lighting candles for their dearly departed in cemeteries,  columbaria and prayer altars:

1.  Read and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions on candle use.

2.  Do not light candles with lead metal in the wicks; choose candles with cotton and other non-metal wicks.

3.  Prune candlewicks to ¼ inch before lighting the candle as long wicks can cause irregular burning and dripping.

4.  Use sturdy candle holders that will not turn over, catch fire or shatter when they get too hot, and big enough to capture the wax drips; be sure to place the candle holder on a stable, heat resistant and uncluttered surface.

5.  Burn candles in a well-aerated space to lessen indoor air pollution, but keep the candles away from air currents to avoid fast burning and flare-ups.

6.  Always keep a burning candle in sight,  do not leave lighted candles unattended, snuff them out before you leave the room or go to sleep, and make sure they are completely out.

7.  Do not drop matchsticks and other objects into the wax pool.

8.  Keep burning candles away from flammable materials such as paper, books, beddings, curtains, decorations, fabrics, furniture, plastics, etc.

9.  If a candle must burn continuously, ensure that it is placed on a durable candle holder and put it on a ceramic, metal or plastic container filled with water.

10. Keep burning candles out of reach of children and safe from pets; educate the kids that candles are not things to eat or play with.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/390455-fda-advisory-no-2016-146

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories/cosmetic/112118-fda-advisory-no-2013-041