22 July 2017

Toxics Watchdog Urges QC Government to Enforce Ordinance Banning Illegal Sale of Poisonous Oxalic Acid

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on toxic chemicals and wastes, asked the local government, health and police authorities of Quezon City to clamp down on the illegal sale of oxalic acid, a poisonous bleaching and cleaning compound.

The group called for immediate law enforcement action following the tragic death of a graduating student from the University of the Philippines due to the ingestion of oxalic acid.

Fifth year B.S. Physics student Daniel Paningbatan, 21 years old succumbed last July 19 after ingesting the poisonous substance at the family residence in Barangay Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident and we commiserate with Daniel's loving parents Dante and Elvira and others he left behind,"said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, Project Protect, EcoWaste Coalition, who visited the victim's wake yesterday.

“This incident should prompt the Quezon City Government to take decisive steps to ensure full compliance to Ordinance 2448,” he said.

The said ordinance, enacted on September 21, 2015, “prohibits the selling of oxalic acid by sari-sari stores, market vendors, sidewalk vendors, and other establishments located within the territorial jurisdiction of Quezon City except in authorized retail outlets or business establishments.”

The EcoWaste Coalition pushed for the adoption of the ordinance in the aftermath of deadly oxalic acid poisoning cases in 2015 that killed milk tea shop owner William Abrigo and customer Suzaine Dagohoy,, and couple Jose Maria and Juliet Escano.

After learning about Paningbatan's death, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol went to the Commonwealth Market to do a quick investigation to determine if oxalic acid is sold illegally.  

As witnessed by the group, sidewalk vendors sell repacked oxalic acid in small clear plastic packets with zero product information or warning.   The group was able to buy 30 small packets of oxalic acid for just P10.

Inside the Commonwealth Market, a stall vendor sells repacked oxalic acid for P20 for ¼ kilo.
“As the sale of oxalic acid by sidewalk and market vendors is prohibited by the ordinance, we ask the authorities to hold those behind the illegal sale of this poisonous substance liable,” Dizon said.

Introduced by Councilor Dorothy Delarmente and co-introduced by 34 councilors, the ordinance provides for a fine of P5,000, or imprisonment of not less than one month but not exceeding three months, or both, to violators.

In addition, if the violator is a business entity registered with the Quezon City Government, the business permit of the said entity shall be automatically cancelled.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), oxalic acid is colorless crystals or white powder that can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of its aerosol and by ingestion.

The CDA warned that “the substance is corrosive to the eyes, the skin and the respiratory tract and exposure above the occupational exposure limits may result in death.”


http://qcpl-lawresearch-center.blogspot.com/2016/01/ordinance-nosp-2448-s-2015-regulating. html
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsn eng/neng0529.html
http://www.abante-tonite.com/s tudent-lumaklak-ng-asido.htm

21 July 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Urges the Government to Tighten Rules on Plastic Trash Imports

The looming ban on the importation of plastic trash in China provides a compelling reason for the Philippines to take strong measures that will prevent the banned imports from being diverted into our ports.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, urged concerned officials from the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Trade and Industry and Finance and the Bureau of Customs to take their cue from China and consider banning the entry of scrap plastics  to the Philippines. 

“We have a serious plastic waste problem that is spilling to the seas and oceans.  We need not exacerbate the situation any further by importing scrap plastics in the guise of recycling,” said Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The illegally imported mixed garbage from Canada misrepresented as recyclable scrap plastics, which are still in our territory, offers a dire lesson in the perilous global waste trade,” she said.

A government-sponsored waste characterization study showed that 63.94% of the unlawful Canadian trash imports were residuals not suitable for recycling and should be properly disposed of.  

“Barring the importation of plastic garbage should form part of the government’s efforts to improve existing regulations to avoid a repeat of the Canadian garbage saga,” she said.

“Imposing an import ban on scrap plastics may even prompt our industries to seek ways to retrieve locally-generated plastic discards,” she added, “which can help in reducing the amount of plastics leaking to water bodies,” she added.

“Domestic industries requiring scrap plastics as production inputs should source their supplies locally,” she suggested.

Additionally, the group stressed the need for industries to embrace waste and pollution prevention strategies, including product redesign for the environment, toxics use reduction and zero waste resource management, to cut, if not eliminate, the generation of wastes and pollutants.

Last July 18, the Government of China notified the World Trade Organization that it will prohibit the importation of scrap plastics by the end of December this year “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.” 

According to the notification sent by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to the WTO, “large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials… pollut(ing) the environment seriously.”

“To protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid waste list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted,” the notification said.

The import ban will apply to waste, parings and scrap of ethylene (HS Code: 3915100000), styrene (HS Code: 3915200000), vinyl chloride (HS Code: 3915300000), propylene (HS Code: 3915901000), and other plastics (HS Code: 3915909000).

Data released by International Scrap Recycling Industries in April 2017 showed that China imported over 7.3 million metric tons of scrap plastics in 2015, valued at $3.7 billion.


http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20170718/NEWS/170719892/ china-to-wto-scrap-plastic-imp orts-banned-by-year-end
http://www.recyclingtoday.com/ article/china-mixed-paper-plas tic-scrap-recycling-ban-2017/

12 July 2017

Drive for “Healthy Baon for Healthy Kids” Gains Ground in QC School (“Healthy Baon” contributes to waste reduction too, says group)

To commemorate this year’s Nutrition Month, an environmental watch group has teamed up with a public school to campaign for nutritious and waste-free snacks and lunches.

Through a joint activity held today, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Sto. Cristo Elementary School (Quezon City) promoted healthy meals that can help students go, grow and glow without denting the family budget.

With a banner that says "Nutritious Food, Healthy Kids, Zero Waste School" as backdrop, teachers and environmentalists drew attention to nourishing food and beverage choices in line with a recently-issued policy by the Department of Education (DepEd).

“Healthy diets at home and school will help our nation in curbing the number of overweight and obese among kids and adults, as well as preventing non-communicable diseases.  It will also help in reducing the volume of garbage knowing that unhealthy foods are mostly packaged in plastic and other single-use materials, which are hardly recycled or reused,” stated Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our activity, we hope, will encourage schools to regulate the sale of foods and drinks in school canteens, while encouraging parents and their kids to go for healthy and waste-free baon that are low in fat, sugar or salt,” he added.

The group said that five percent of Filipino children (aged five to 10) and 31 percent of adults (aged 20 and above) are overweight and obese, while the national waste generation is estimated at 40,087 tons per day as per data from the Food Nutrition and Research Institute and the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

To hammer home their advocacy for healthy diets, SCES teachers prepared brown rice-based baon ideas such as pancakes, spring rolls, champorado bar, croquetas, spaghetti, and vegetable-rich viands such as malunggay-veggie mix, malunggay veggie patties, pinakbet, and dilis and kangkong embutido.   

Kitchen discards such as vegetable and fruit peelings were then brought to the school’s composting pit.

Also, the event saw students reciting the “10 Kumainments,” the popular version of the revised Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF).

According to the National Nutrition Council, “a healthy diet is able to satisfy one’s energy and nutrient needs for proper body functions, growth and development, daily activities and maintenance of health, keeping well within one’s caloric needs.”

On the other hand, “an unhealthy diet is composed of foods that are energy-dense yet nutrient poor and are high in saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates or sodium,” stated the NCC, the lead organizer for the Nutrition Month.  

DepEd Department Order No. 13, Series of 2017 provides for the “Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverage Choices in Schools and in DepEd Offices” by making available healthy, nutritious and affordable menu choices, and for setting food standards.

It identifies healthier food and beverage choices and introduces a system of categorizing locally available foods and drinks in green, yellow and red categories.

Items included in the green category should always be available in school canteens; those in the yellow category should be served carefully; and those in the red cateogry are not recommended in canteen menu.

Foods and drinks in the green category include unsweetened milk, safe and clean water, fresh buko water, rice, corn, whole wheat bread, cassava, boiled sweet potato, boiled saba, boiled peanuts, suman, puto, fishes, shellfish, small shrimps, lean meats, chicken without skin, nuts, eggs and fresh fruits in season.

Foods and drinks in the yellow category include 100% fresh fruit juices, fried rice, bread, biscuits, banana cue, camote cue, turon, maruya, pancakes, waffles, champorado, pancit, arroz caldo, sandwiches, processed foods (subject to evaluation of saturated or trans fat and sodium content), stir-fried vegetables       

Foods and drinks in the red category include soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, sports waters, sports drinks, flavored mineral water, energy drinks, sweetened waters, powdered juice drinks, any products containing caffeine, any processed fruit/vegetable juice with added sugar of more than 20 grams or 4 teaspoons per serving, any jelly, ice crushes and slushies, any ice cream, ice drops and ice candies, cakes and slices, donuts, sweet biscuits and pastries, chocolates, hard/chewy candies, chewing gums, marshmallows, lollipops, yema, French fries, bicho-bicho, instant noodles, all types of heavily salted snacks such as chips or chichiria, chicharon, chicken skin, bacon, deep-friend foods including fish balls and kikiams, canned fruits in heavy syrup, sweetened fruits, deep-fried vegetables.



03 July 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Filipinos to Break the Plastic Bag Habit

As the International Plastic Bag Free Day is observed today, a waste and pollution watch group asked Filipinos from all walks of life to kick the plastic bag habit for a trash-free land and marine environment.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the global “Break Free from Plastic” movement, directed its appeal for action against the omnipresent plastic bags to consumers, commercial establishments, schools, local governments and the national legislature.

“Plastic waste prevention and the genuine enforcement of best practices in ecological solid waste management sans incineration and open burning is the way to go to tackle the plastic scourge that has now become a global malady,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We can reduce the amount of plastic garbage dumped into the oceans by taking decisive measures at various levels from voluntary lifestyle option as responsible consumers to mandatory legislation banning single-use plastic bags,” he added.

Consumers should bring bayong and other reusable bags for their purchases to reduce the volume of plastics burned in dumpsites or thrown in waterways eventually ending up and polluting our rivers and seas, the group suggested.

Commercial establishments like shopping centers should initiate mall-wide programs to encourage retail shops, restaurants and other tenants to offer incentives for customers who will bring their own reusable containers and halt the practice of handing out free plastic or paper bags, according to the group. 

The group added that public and private schools should restrict the use of plastic bags, as well as other non-essential plastic products such as drinking straws, inside the school premises.

Local government units (LGUs) with existing plastic bag bans should strengthen the implementation of existing regulations, while those lagging behind should quickly adopt effective ordinances, the group pointed out.

“It’s high time for Congress to enact a comprehensive legislation that will ban single-use plastic bags to expand and support the initiatives of the local authorities to deal with the plastic mess,” Alejandre said.

All LGUs also need to fully enforce the waste prevention and reduction provisions of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resouces and the National Solid Waste Management Commission should take the lead in implementing policies and programs in support of UNEA Resolution 2/11, the group further said.

UNEA, or the United Nations Environmental Assembly, in 2016 adopted a resolution on marine plastic litter and microplastics “stressing that prevention and environmentally sound management of waste is key to long-term success in combating marine pollution” and “calling on member states to establish and implement necessary policies, regulatory frameworks and measures consistent with the waste hierarchy.”

Waste audits conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace and Mother Earth Foundation in Manila Bay indicated alarming quantities of plastic litter, particularly in the famed Manila Bay.

In July 2016, for instance, a waste audit conducted by EcoWaste Coalition’s partner groups at Freedom Island in ParaƱaque City collected 1,482 kilos of trash, 79 percent of which were assorted plastic materials,  consisting 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).


https://www.plasticbagfreeday. org/
https://www.informea.org/en/de cision/marine-plastic-litter- and-microplastics#decision- body-field

01 July 2017

Group Pushes for Phase-Out of Triclosan and Triclocarban in Personal Care and Cosmetic Products

After calling on consumers to skip soaps and washes containing triclosan and triclocarban, a watch group on harmful chemicals is now training its gun on manufacturers of personal care and cosmetic products (PCCPs) that are still using these antibacterial substances.

“We call upon the manufacturers of PCCPs to cease from using triclosan and triclocarban in product formulations after scientists reached a consensus that these substances are environmentally persistent endocrine disrupting chemicals that bioaccumulate in and are toxic to marine organisms,” said Rene Pineda,  Representative, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“We likewise exhort our policy makers not to miss the writing on the wall and take precautionary action now to safeguard the public health, especially the health of pregnant women, developing fetuses and breastfeeding babies.  It is our common responsibility to prevent further human and environmental exposures to triclosan and triclocarban,” he added.

The group had earlier urged consumers through a press briefing with visiting expert Dr. Ann Blake last May 30 to shun soap and wash products with triclosan and triclocarban ahead of the US-wide ban on such products beginning September 6, 2017.  

Triclosan and triclocarban are among the 19 antibacterials being banned by the US Food and Drug Administration “because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.”

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the historic statement by over 200 scientists and medical professionals  published in the June 20 issue of the Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), a monthly peer-reviewed journal of research and news published with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services of US.

Dubbed as the “Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban,” the statement documents a consensus of more than 200 scientists and medical professionals on the hazards of and lack of demonstrated benefit from common uses of triclosan and triclocarban.  

The signatories called upon “the international community to limit the production and use of triclosan and triclocarban and to question the use of other antimicrobials.”

Based on extensive peer-reviewed research, the statement concludes that triclosan and triclocarban are environmentally persistent endocrine disruptors that bioaccumulate in and are toxic to aquatic and other organisms. 

According to the statement:

---“Triclosan and triclocarban are used as antimicrobials, a class of chemicals present in >2,000 products.   In personal care products like hand soap, there is no evidence that use of triclosan or triclocarban improves consumer or patient health or prevents disease.”

---“Triclosan and triclocarban used in consumer products end up in the environment and have been detected in a wide variety of matrices worldwide.”

---“Triclosan and triclocarban persist in the environment and are a source of toxic and carcinogenic compounds including dioxins, chloroform, and chlorinated anilines.”

---“Triclosan, triclocarban, and their transformation products and byproducts bioaccumulate in aquatic plants and animals, and triclosan partitions into human blood and breast milk.”

---“Triclosan and triclocarban have detrimental effects on aquatic organisms.”

---“Humans are exposed to triclosan and triclocarban through direct contact with personal care products  and from other sources including food, drinking water, and dust.” 

---“Triclosan and triclocarban are endocrine disruptors and are associated with reproductive and developmental impacts in animal and in vitro studies.”

---“Human epidemiology and animal studies suggest triclosan exposure can increase sensitivity to allergens.”

---“Overuse of triclosan may contribute to antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance and may modify the microbiome.”

---“A number of authorities, including the US FDA, have restricted the use of triclosan and triclocarban in certain types of soaps. These and other antimicrobial chemicals are generally not restricted from use in other products.”

The Florence Statement lists several recommendations to prevent harm from triclosan, triclocarban and other antimicrobial substances with similar properties and effects.  These include:

---“Avoid the use of triclosan, triclocarban, and other antimicrobial chemicals except where they provide an evidence-based health benefit (e.g., physician-prescribed toothpaste for treating gum disease) and there is adequate evidence demonstrating they are safe.”

---“Where antimicrobials are necessary, use safer alternatives that are not persistent and pose no risk to humans or ecosystems.”

---“Label all products containing triclosan, triclocarban, and other antimicrobials, even in cases where no

health claims are made.”

---“Evaluate the safety of antimicrobials and their transformation products throughout the entire product life cycle, including manufacture, long-term use, disposal, and environmental release.”



29 June 2017

Schools Urged to Step Up Drive for Waste Prevention and Reduction


Now that classes are in full swing, an environmental advocacy group wasted no time to prod school administrators to strengthen current efforts promoting ecological solid waste management (ESWM) in the school system.

Through a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition urged school principals, as well as the faculty, non-academic personnel, students and parents, to work together in improving ESWM programs to cut the volume and toxicity of discards generated by country’s schools. 

“The resumption of classes provides a very good opportunity to renew interest and support for school-oriented ESWM principles and practices,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope that our school principals will utilize this opportunity to improve existing ESWM programs and further enhance the participation of students as well as the teaching and non-teaching staff,” he said.  

“Our principals can surely tap the student governments, faculty clubs and the Parent-Teacher Associations for broadly-supported ESWM initiatives,” he further said.  

“The effective implementation of ESWM in our schools will go a long way in instilling environmental awareness and sensitivity, especially among our young learners,” he added.  

The EcoWaste Coalition recalled that Department Order 5, Series of 2014, issued by the Department of Education provides for the “Implementing Guidelines on the Integration of Gulayan sa Paaralan, Solid Waste Management and Tree Planting Under the National Greening Program (NGP).”

According to the said guidelines, “every school shall practice waste management principles, such as minimization, specifically resource conservation and recovery, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, reuse and composting, in order to promote environmental awareness and action among the students.”

Among the activities to be conducted in schools as per D.O. 5 include:

- Prohibition of littering and burning of wastes;
- Avoidance of single-use disposable products and packaging materials such as plastic bags, straws, spoons, forks and paper cups and plates;
- Promotion of trash-free “baon”;
- Establishment of composting system to process biodegradable wastes;
- Use of recyclables as seed beds in the nursery or garden;
- Use of reusable food containers in school canteens;
- Avoidance of consumables such as bottled water, coffee, sugar and creamer in sachets in events and meetings.

D.O. 5 also calls for the designation of an area within the school as a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

The MRF can serve as a storage area for discards that can still be repaired and reused, as a collection area for different recyclables such as bottles, cans and plastic containers, and as a temporary place for keeping residual trash such as non-recyclable and non-compostable discards.

D.O 5 further provides for the appointment of a school representative to the Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee in the barangay where the school is located.

“We hope that Education Secretary Leonor Briones will give D.O. 5 a shot in the arm by issuing a circular reiterating its importance and the need for its full implementation,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


27 June 2017

Burning of Goods Seized from Illegal Vendors Gets a Thumbs-Down from Environmental Watch Group

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog group, urged the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) not to push through with its threat of burning goods seized from illegal street vendors in the metropolis.

MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim last week issued the verbal warning during the agency’s road clearing action at Balintawak, Quezon City in an attempt to stop hawkers from occupying sidewalks and streets and hampering the flow of traffic and causing bottlenecks. 

“As we are daily commuters ourselves, we support the government’s efforts to ease traffic congestion, especially along EDSA and other major roads,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“However, we ask the MMDA to drop its plan of burning the merchandises seized from non-compliant vendors as this will be tantamount to open burning, a prohibited act under Republic Act 9003,” she pointed out.

“We appeal to all concerned parties to talk and find a ‘win-win’ set of solutions that will address both the livelihood requirements of the vendors and the need to keep Metro Manila’s busy roads obstruction-free,” she added.

Section 48 of R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, prohibits and penalizes the open burning of solid waste.  Violators can be fined from P300 to P1,000 or imprisoned for one to 15 days, or both.

As a member agency of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the MMDA is expected to promote compliance to R.A. 9003 and not the other way around, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded.   

“Aside from being punishable by law, the open burning of seized goods, carts, stalls, plastic tarps and sheets, wooden crates, corrugated boxes and the like will generate environmental pollutants that can harm human health,” Lucero warned.

Among these environmental toxins are persistent organic pollutants or POPs such as dioxins and furans, which are byproducts of burning chlorinated materials, heavy metals like cadmium, lead and mercury, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, and microscopic particles, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Air pollutants have been linked to a range of adverse health effects, including respiratory infections, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer,” according to the World Health Organization.

Instead of burning confiscated commodities and tools of trade, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested that seized items that can be safely consumed or put to good use should be given to social welfare and development institutions such as orphanages, homes for the elderly and other charitable groups.



Thank You and Farewell Manang Luz Sabas, 89

The one and only “Manang Luz,” recipient of the EcoWaste Coalition’s “Zero Waste Champion” award in 2005.  Photo from Jai Aracama’s Facebook.

Luz Escalante Sabas, the country’s pioneer Zero Waste advocate, environmentalist and founder of the Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines Foundation, died on June 9, 2017.

Manang Luz, as she was fondly called, launched her book on May 12, “Toward Zero Waste,” based on her thesis for her Master of Arts degree in teaching (major in health education) in 1979 at the University of the Philippines.  The thesis discussed the “Four Fs Scheme of Total Recycling of Domestic Wastes,” particularly segregating the nonbiodegradable waste for factories from biodegradable waste for feeds, fertilizer and fuel.  She trained countless groups nationwide and was a guru to the late Odette Alcantara and many other environmental advocates.  Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management  Act is based on her work, which is also reflected in RA 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

Manang Luz is survived by daughters Grace,Pearl, Irene, Hazel, Janet, Helen; son Leon Jr.; sons-in-law Dr. Rodolfo Raquino, Richard Thackray, David Campos, Joey Aracama; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Her remains are at the St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Church, Chapel 2, Magallanes Village and will be buried at Himlayang Pilipino on June 14.

12 June 2017

Watch Group Lauds DSWD’s Directive on Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for children’s protection against lead exposure, lauded the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for making the use of lead-safe paints a mandatory requirement in facilities catering to disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors.

“We give Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and the DSWD the thumbs up for issuing the memorandum requiring the use of lead-safe paints in residential and non-residential facilities managed or operated by the department and other accredited agencies,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group had earlier requested the DSWD to issue such a directive after the Department of Education in January this year ordered the compulsory use of lead-safe paints in all preparatory, elementary and secondary schools.

Taguiwalo’s memorandum to all DSWD officials and employees, the EcoWaste Coalition said, is in line with the phase-out requirements for lead-containing paints under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds. 

“This policy will make lead safety a key concern for Reception and Study Centers for Children, Regional Rehabilitation Centers for Youth, Homes of Boys and Girls and Lingap Centers, as well as for orphanages and day care centers across the country,” Lucero said.

“This will promote a lead-free environment for the children and youth being cared for by the DSWD and licensed social welfare and development agencies (SWDAs) by removing a preventable source of lead exposure among kids such as peeling lead paint and dust.  This is essential for their lifelong good health,” she added. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) 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.”  WHO classifies lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”

According to the DSWD Secretary’s memorandum, “the Standards Bureau/Unit shall ensure compliance by all SWDAs that their residential and non-residential facilities, including furniture, fixture and equipment, are using lead-safe paints or coatings prior to licensing or re-accreditation.”

“The Administrative Service/Unit and the Procurement Service/Unit shall both ensure that future painting works for all (DSWD) buildings, office premises and structures, including centers and institutions, either by administration (with the materials to be procured) or by contract (with labor and materials to be outsourced) should comply with (DENR A.O. 2013-24),” it stated.

The memorandum also tasked the DSWD Inspectorate Committee to facilitate the inspection of DSWD buildings, office premises and centers in order to identify those decorated with paints exceeding the threshold limit of 90 parts per million under the said DENR A.O.

“The DSWD Disposal Committee is also instructed to facilitate proper removal and disposal of lead paints as may be deemed necessary during (the) repainting or renovation of structures in consonance with the guidelines set by the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers,” the memorandum said.



02 June 2017

Group Backs Moves by DepEd and QC to Restrict Unhealthy Foods and Drinks in Schools

An environmental and health group praised the Department of Education  (DepEd) and the Quezon City Government for issuing policies that will protect school children from foods and drinks containing high amounts of saturated fat, sugar or salt.

The EcoWaste Coalition lauded Education Secretary Leonor Briones for promulgating DepEd Department Order 13, Series of 2017, which sets the “Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverage Choices in Schools and in DepEd Offices.” 

The group also commended the Quezon City Government for its Anti-Junk Food and Sugary Drinks Ordinance of 2017 that bans the sale and distribution of unhealthy food and drink within a 100-meter radius of private and public preparatory, elementary and high schools in the city.

“We laud Secretary Briones for issuing detailed guidelines aimed at promoting healthy eating habits, especially among our young learners, particularly by restricting the marketing, sale and consumption of food and beverage products that are too fat, too sweet or too salty in our schools,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“If effectively enforced, this latest policy issuance from DepEd will go a long way in curbing both malnutrition and obesity among our children, which can severely affect their growth and development, while promoting the regular intake of foods and drinks that can make them go, grow and glow,” he added.

“The Quezon City ordinance, which complements DepEd’s policy, provides a model that can be studied and replicated by other local government units,” noted Dizon.

School administrators, canteen owners and vendors found in violation of the ordinance shall be fined  P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 for the third offense plus business permit revocation.

DepEd’s latest policy issuance “establishes the guidelines to promote healthy diets and positive eating behaviors,” as well as “provide healthy eating environments to learners, teaching, and non-teaching personnel.”

The policy specifically enumerates healthier food and beverage choices, introduces a system of categorizing locally available foods and drinks and provides guidance in evaluating and categorizing foods and drinks, as well as guidance in the marketing and sale of foods and drinks in schools and DepEd offices, including food items for school feeding programs.

The guidelines, for instance, provides a list of foods and beverages in the green, yellow and red categories.  Those listed in the green category should always be available in school canteens.  Those classified as yellow should be served carefully.  And those categorized as red are not recommended in canteen menu.

Examples of foods and drinks in the green category: unsweetened milk, safe and clean water, fresh buko water, rice, corn, whole wheat bread, cassava, boiled sweet potato, boiled saba, boiled peanuts, suman, puto, fishes, shellfish, small shrimps, lean meats, chicken without skin, nuts, eggs and fresh fruits in season.

Examples of foods and drinks in the yellow category: 100% fresh fruit juices, fried rice, bread, biscuits, banana cue, camote cue, turon, maruya, pancakes, waffles, champorado, pancit, arroz caldo, sandwiches, processed foods (subject to evaluation of saturated or transfat and sodium content), stir-friend vegetables       

Examples of foods and drinks in the red category:  soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, sports waters, sports drinks, flavored mineral water, energy drinks, sweetened waters, powdered juice drinks, any products containing caffeine, any processed fruit/vegetable juice with added sugar of more than 20 grams or 4 teaspoons per serving, any jelly, ice crushes and slushies, any ice cream, ice drops and ice candies, cakes and slices, donuts, sweet biscuits and pastries, chocolates, hard/chewy candies, chewing gums, marshmallows, lollipops, yema, French fries, bicho-bicho, instant noodles, all types of heavily salted snacks such as chips or chichiria, chicharon, chicken skin, bacon, deep-friend foods including fish balls and kikiams, canned fruits in heavy syrup, sweetened fruits, deep-fried vegetables.

DepEd D.O. 13 applies to all public elementary and secondary schools, learning centers and DepEd offices in the Central, Regional and Division Levels. 

Private schools are likewise enjoined to adopt the guidelines.




31 May 2017

Visiting Expert Puts Microplastics in Cosmetics on the Spot at Beauty Trade Show

A visiting expert from US today drew attention to the emerging concerns around the environmental impacts of microplastics in cosmetics at the ongoing beauty trade show in Pasay City.

Speaking at the 3rd Philippines International Beauty Show, Dr. Ann Blake raised the issue of microplastic ingredients in personal care and cosmetic product (PCCP) formulations as contributing to the micro-sized plastic litter in the oceans.  Blake made a similar presentation last Monday before cosmetic regulators at a forum organized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Blake’s participation at this major industry event was made possible by the collaboration between the Chamber of Cosmetics Industry of the Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental watchdog. 
Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5 mm in size or as small as several microns (millionths of a meter) serving many functions in cosmetics, including exfoliation, emulsion stabilizing, film-forming, skin conditioning, viscosity regulation and many others.

Products that may contain microplastics from less than 1% to as much as 90% of product weight include soap, shampoo, children’s bubble bath, shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste, facial masks, facials scrubs, wrinkle cream, shaving cream, moisturizers, lipstick, eye shadow, sunscreen, etc.

“Microbeads and other microplastics are designed to go down the drain.  Because they are too small to be captured in wastewater treatment facilities, the extremely tiny plastic particles travel straight to the ocean,” said Blake, a public health and environmental consultant with over 23 years of experience finding safer alternatives to industrial chemicals in global manufacturing.

“These plastic materials are ingested by birds, fish and other marine life who mistake them for food. Microplastics can absorb toxic chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and work their way back up the food chain,” she said

“Microplastics and toxic chemicals in fish are a concern as fish provide a major source of protein for 3.1 billion people.  As a continent, Asia has the highest global fish consumption,” she emphasized.

To cut the use of microplastics in cosmetics and their eventual disposal to the ocean, Blake posed a few questions for cosmetic formulators and manufactures to ponder:  1) Are microplastics necessary for product performance?, 2) What are the safer alternatives?   3) What about a natural solution that could support a local industry by using an agricultural product or waste, or sequester carbon and restore agricultural soil?

Among the safer alternatives to microplastics  as identified by the US Personal Care Products Council include beeswax, rice bran wax, jojoba waxes, starches derived from corn, tapioca and carnauba,
seaweed, silica, clay and other natural compounds.

Multinational cosmetic companies and international cosmetic trade associations have voluntarily decreased their use of microbeads in response to the “Beat the Microbead” NGO campaign starting in 2012.

Among these companies are L’Oreal, which plans to phase out polyethylene microbeads from exfoliates, cleansers and shower gels by 2017; Crest, which plans complete their phase out of microbeads in toothpaste by 2017, and Johnson & Johnson, which plans to complete by 2017 their phase out of microbeads that began in 2015.

Blake also noted that in January 2017, the ASEAN Cosmetic Association recommended the discontinuation of use of microbeads for the protection of the environment, especially the waterways.

The US, the UK, several European countries and nine US states have initiated bans on microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products; the earliest of these bans become effective July 1, 2017.

“Given the associated potential risks of microplastics, a precautionary approach is recommended toward microplastic management, with the eventual phase-out and ban in PCCPs,” the “Plastic in Cosmetics” report published by the UN Environment Program said.

“Redesigning products that are more environmentally friendly, less plastic intensive and use safer chemicals can contribute towards reducing potential health threats posed by microplastics in PCCPs,” it added.




Green Chemistry and Sustainable Development Goals

The Department of Environment – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in cooperation with the EcoWaste Coalition  on May 30 organized a seminar on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Development Goals  with visiting public health and environmental expert Dr. Ann Blake as resource person.  The seminar, which attracted participants from the government, industry, civil society and the academe, shed light on Green Chemistry, a growing design philosophy and business strategy that aims to make processes and products safe for the people and the environment by reducing or eliminating the use of hazardous substances and the generation of hazardous wastes. 

30 May 2017

Consumers Urged to Skip Antibacterial Products Containing Triclosan and Triclocarban (Expert says antibacterials are no more effective than plan soap and water in reducing disease)

A non-profit toxics watch group urged consumers to refrain from using antibacterial soaps and washes containing triclosan and triclocarban as a historic ban in US on such products looms.

At a press briefing held today, the EcoWaste Coalition noted that a ban on the marketing of consumer antiseptic wash products containing antibacterials triclosan and triclocarban will take effect on September 6, 2017 as ordered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

In light of such policy, the group called on Filipino consumers to use their buying power and influence to make companies switch to safer formulations by patronizing products that are free of triclosan, triclocarban and other chemicals of concern.

Triclosan and triclocarban are among the 19 antibacterials being banned by the federal agency “because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.”

Dr. Ann Blake, a visiting public health and environmental expert from US who spoke at the event, pointed out “studies have indicated increased evidence of both health and environmental harm linked to the use and disposal of triclosan and its chemical cousin triclocarban, with no benefit to humans and the ecosystems."

Antibacterials (including triclosan, triclocarban) and quaternary ammonium products (“quats”) are medical disinfectants that have been increasingly added to a variety of personal care and household cleaning products.

“The claim of supposed ‘antibacterial protection’ from the use of such products is not backed up by scientific evidence.  Plain soap and water work better in reducing infection and disease,” Blake said.

“These antibacterials are often marketed as a way to protect consumers from ‘superbugs’when in fact they contribute to antibiotic resistance,” she said, adding that “superbugs originate from the use of ‘preventive’ dosing of antibiotics in industrial meat production for cows, pigs and chickens.”

Environmentalist Rene Pineda of the EcoWaste Coalition noted that the biggest use for triclosan and triclocarban are in antibacterial soaps, hand and body washes and related products that are discharged in wastewater drains.

“Disposed of in residential drains, these chemicals, which are highly toxic to aquatic organisms, can accumulate in water bodies, affect the balance of the fragile marine ecosystems and result in hazardous residues in fish that we eat,” he said.

Another concern that Pineda highlighted is that these chemicals could be transformed into chloroform and dioxin compounds with exposure to sunlight or when interacting with chemicals such as chlorine in tap water.

For better health and hygiene, Blake and Pineda stressed the importance of washing hands frequently with ordinary soap and water to wash away harmful bacteria, especially when preparing food, before eating, after going to the toilet, and when a member of the family is sick.

At the press briefing, the EcoWaste Coalition also appealed to companies, both foreign and local, to phase out the use and sale of consumer products containing triclosan and triclocarban starting with over-the-counter antibacterial soaps and washes.

The group last week conducted test buys of antibacterial soaps and washes and found many products listing triclosan or triclocarban among their ingredients.

The group noted that leading manufacturers including Avon, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others have phased out triclosan and triclocarban and reformulated products containing these antibacterials. 




24 May 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers vs Lead-Containing School Supplies

A persistent advocate for children’s safety from toxic substances has warned that some school supplies being sold in the market contain undisclosed quantities of lead, a chemical that is known to affect intelligence and behavior.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes, aired the warning as the sale of school supplies soars with the nearing resumption of classes on June 5.

To generate data for its public outreach efforts, the group conducted yet another test buy targeting affordable school supplies sold in discount stores located in Baclaran, Divisoria, Guadalupe and Monumento, where budget-conscious parents go to for their children’s school needs.

“We conducted this year’s test buy against the backdrop of an intensified campaign to promote business and industry compliance to the country’s lead and lead paint laws,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon cited the DENR Administrative Order 2013-24 or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits the use of lead in the production of school supplies, as well as the DepEd Department Order 4, Series of 2017, which requires the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in all preparatory, elementary and secondary schools.

“Eliminating all sources of childhood exposure to lead in children’s environment is necessary to protect their developing brains and to help them realize their full potentials,” he said.

For its latest test buy, the EcoWaste Coalition purchased affordable backpacks, lunch bags, water containers, and assorted stationery items, which were subsequently screened for lead and other toxic metals using a  portable X-Ray Fluorescence device.

Out of the 55 items bought and screened, 21, mostly school bags, were found to contain varying concentrations of lead.  The rest were found to contain no detectable of lead.

Joining this year’s “dirty dozen” list of lead-laden school supplies were:

1.   An orange stainless steel vacuum flask with 40,500 ppm.

2.   A yellow thumb tack with 31,800 ppm

3.   A yellow “Tigger & Pooh” water container, 21,900 ppm

4.   A blue backpack with stop light design, 11,000 ppm

5.   A green backpack with ladybug design, 8,619 ppm

6.   A small blue bag with “Ben 10” design, 4,094 ppm

7.   A pink “Weinite” backpack with alphabet design, 3,754 ppm

8.   A green and yellow ”Kakuchuanqi” bag, 2,076 ppm

9.   A stationery bag with yellow zipper, 2,034 ppm

10. A green backpack with star design, 1,998 ppm

11. A small blue bag with “Naruto” design, 1,282 ppm

12. A big yellow backpack with “Despicable Me” design, 1,120 ppm

In addition, the EcoWaste Coalition had earlier disclosed high levels of lead in eight out of 20 painted school gardening tools such as hand forks, rakes and shovels with total lead content ranging from 816 to 20,400 ppm.

To prevent children’s exposure to lead and other harmful chemicals, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to:  demand complete product information, including information about a product’s chemical composition; refrain from buying school supplies made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic that may contain toxic additives like cadmium, lead and  phthalates; and avoid products with painted parts or metal accessories unless certified “lead-free” or “non-toxic.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “at high levels of acute exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death.” 

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

WHO has listed lead among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” stating that “lead exposure is estimated to account for 0.6% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden in developing regions.”






22 May 2017

Watch Group Finds School Gardening Tools Laden with Toxic Lead

Gardening tools coated with  lead-containing paints (above) and those without (bottom).

An advocate for the prevention of childhood lead exposure alerted school authorities against the use of gardening tools that are coated with lead-containing paints.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health group, aired the warning following the detection of high concentrations of lead, a potent neurotoxin, in eight of 20 samples of gardening tools.

The tools, which are commonly used in home, community and school gardening activities, were purchased for P20 to P65 each from general merchandise stores, hardware centers and sidewalk vendors in Monumento, Caloocan City, Divisoria, Manila City, and in Makati City and Pasay City. 

The EcoWaste Coalition analyzed the gardening tools, including hand shovels, rakes, forks and cultivators, as part of its “Toxic-Free Back-to-School” drive.

“We found excessive lead paint levels on some of these gardening tools that are often used in school gardening activities,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Of the 20 gardening tools, eight were found to be decorated with paints containing dangerous concentrations of lead up to 20,400 parts per million (ppm), way above the 90 ppm total lead content limit under the DENR A.O. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

“We are concerned that the lead coated gardening tools will deteriorate and rust with frequent use.  This will cause the paint to peel and for its lead content to contaminate the soil,” said Dizon.

“A child can be exposed to lead if the lead-contaminated soil gets into his hands and mouth while gardening or playing in the dirt,” he pointed out.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “young children are particularly vulnerable because they absorb 4–5 times as much ingested lead as adults from a given source.”

“Moreover, children’s innate curiosity and their age-appropriate hand-to-mouth behavior result in their mouthing and swallowing lead-containing or lead-coated objects, such as contaminated soil or dust and flakes from decaying lead-containing paint,” the WHO explained.

“Undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium, are lacking. Children at highest risk are the very young (including the developing fetus) and the impoverished,” the WHO.

“Lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment,” the WHO empahsized.




EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 336, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1100 Quezon City, Philippines
Phone/Fax: 4411846  E-Mail: info@ecowastecoalition.org

Website: http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com