31 March 2017

Canadian Trash Importers Urged to Comply to Court’s “Return to Origin” Order


Cause-oriented groups today implored the parties responsible for the illegal importation of garbage from Canada to abide by the court’s “return to origin” order without further delay.

Ang Nars Party-List, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation and the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa aired the urgent plea following the move by the prosecution requesting Manila’s Regional Trial Court (Branch 1) to ask defendants Adelfa Eduardo, Leonora Flores and Sherjun Saldon to comply with the order to send back the unlawful garbage shipments to Canada.

The five groups and three other individuals are intervenors to Criminal Case No. 14-311191 versus importer Eduardo et al for violation of R.A. 6969 or the Toxic Substances, Hazardous and Nucelear Wastes Control Act in relation to DENR A.O. 28-1994 and DENR A.O. 29-1992.

Prosecution attorney Christine Fatima Estepa submitted the “motion for compliance” to the clerk of court last March 6, which was subsequently addressed at the hearing on March 17.  Today, March 31, the intervenors filed a "no objection" comment to the prosecution's "motion for compliance."

It will be recalled that Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag in a ruling issued on June 30, 2016 “side(d) with the intervenors that the disposal and destruction of the wastes will violate equally important environmental laws such as RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and RA 9275 or the Clean Water Act.”

The court further ordered the return of 50 container vans of garbage “back to Canada, the place of its origin,” stressing that the Philippines is not a “trash bin” and that the incident ”should not be made a precedent for other  countries to follow.”  

The DENR in 2015 had certified that “the contents of the container vans imported by Chronic Plastics are bailed municipal wastes or garbage for immediate local disposal and cannot be recycled.”

“Nine months have passed since the June 30 court order was issued, and the reeking wastes from Canada are still in our territory.  The prolonged delay in the execution of the directive is totally upsetting and unfair for our nation, which is bearing the brunt of illegal and unethical waste trade,” said Dr. Leah Paquiz, representative of the Ang Nars Party-List in the 16th Congress.

Lawyer Amang Mejia, counsel of the EcoWaste Coalition and the other intervenors, reiterated the legal responsibility of the defendants to cause the re-export of Canadian garbage to its source in accordance with R.A. 6969.

Section 14 (Criminal Offenses and Penalties) of R.A. 6969 states that: “the person or firm responsible or connected with the bringing or importation into the country of hazardous or nuclear wastes shall be under obligation to transport or send back said prohibited wastes.”

“As the defendants did not contest the court order within the period provided under the Rules of Court, they have no recourse but to remove the illegal garbage from our soil and to return the same to Canada for environmentally-sound disposal,” he said.

A total of 103 shipping containers of mostly residual garbage from Canada disguised as scrap plastics for recycling arrived in Manila ports in 2013-2014 and intercepted by the customs authorities.

Twenty six of these garbage-filled containers were illegally disposed of in 2015 at the privately-run Metro Clark landfill in Capas, Tarlac angering local government officials and residents.


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29 March 2017

Petition Launched Urging ASEAN to Ban Microplastics in Cosmetics


Non-government organizations in Southeast Asia have joined forces to curb a preventable source of plastic pollution of the marine environment: microparticles of plastic, or microplastics, in cosmetics.

Through an online petition at Avaaz, the groups are urging the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a huge market of over 500 million consumers, to prohibit microplastics in the production of personal care and cosmetic products (PCCPs).

The groups directed their call for such a regional ban under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive ahead of the 26th ASEAN Cosmetic Committee Meeting and related events to be held on May 1-5 in Cambodia.

Among the petition’s prime movers are Balifokus (Indonesia), Consumers’ Association of Penang (Malaysia), EcoWaste Coalition (Philippines), Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (Thailand), and the  Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (Vietnam).

The groups’ petition builds on a resolution adopted at the second United Nations Environment Assembly in 2016, which states that “the presence of plastic litter and microplastics in the marine environment is a rapidly increasing serious issue of global concern that needs an urgent global response.”

“We expect the 10 member states of the ASEAN to respond positively to our petition towards a ban on microplastics in cosmetics.  Such a regional action will contribute to preventing microplastic pollution of the marine ecosystems, including the transfer of hazardous chemicals that can threaten our health and that of aquatic wildlife,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

"In addition, the presence of microplastics in the marine food we consume could potentially increase direct exposure of plastic-associated chemicals to humans and thus pose risk to human health", said S.M. Mohamed Idris, President of the Consumers Association of Penang.

According to the report “Plastic in Cosmetics” published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), “a large number of plastic materials are currently being applied in PCCPs… replacing natural options… with many of the particulates between 1 and 50 micrometer in size.”

"Washed down the drain, those particles cannot be collected for recycling, nor do they decompose in wastewater treatment facilities, inevitably ending up in the global ocean, where it fragments and remains" and "these plastics may take hundreds of years to completely degrade," the UNEP report said.

Examples of microplastic-containing PCCPs include leave-on and rinse-off formulations such as deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lipstick, hair colouring, shaving cream, sunscreen, insect repellent, anti-wrinkle creams, moisturizers, hair spray, facial masks, baby care products, eye shadow, mascara, etc., the report said.

Studies indicate that microplastic particles can absorb and release highly toxic chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the petition said. 

These toxin-laden microplastics can be easily eaten by fish, mussels and other aquatic organisms and thus contaminating the marine food chains and posing risks for human health and the environment, the petition pointed out.

To see and sign the petition, please go to:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_ASEAN_Cosmetic_Committee_and_the_national_FDAs_and_equivalent_agencies_We_want_the_ASEAN_to_ban_plastic_microbeads_a/?eMQRPlb


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20 March 2017

Summer Plea: Don’t Blight the Beach with Plastic Trash (Zero Waste Group Asks Beachgoers Not to Add to Marine Litter)

Photo from the clean-up drive and waste audit conducted by zero waste groups in July 2016 at Freedom Island, Paranaque City.

A waste and pollution watch group exhorted the public to mind their trash as families and friends get ready to visit the beaches and other recreational spots to beat the summer heat.

The EcoWaste Coalition asked domestic tourists to aim for “zero marine litter,” especially in coastal areas, to make this year’s summer vacation a pleasant experience for humans and for Mother Earth as well.

“We appeal to all vacationers not to abandon their discards in our beaches and other recreational sites,” pleaded Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“Leave only your footprints in the sands.  Please don’t leave your cigarette butts, plastics and leftover foods behind,” she said.

“Keeping our beaches and shores free of trash is one way of reducing the volume of marine litter that is turning our seas into giant landfills to the detriment of the marine wildlife,” she added.

“Used plastic carry bags, for example, can be easily blown by wind into the sea where aquatic animals mistake them for food,” she explained.

Other discards from recreational activities can harm the coastal and marine environment in a big way, she added.

For example, wayward balloons, lost beach balls, abandoned swimming floaters, as well as misplaced lines, nets and other fishing gear can hurt and injure marine animals through entanglement.

To prevent and reduce marine litter that is threatening the health of our seas and oceans, the EcoWaste Coalition urged vacationers to avoid single use packaging materials and products that people simply throw away.

Disposable plastic bags, plates, cups and cutlery, plastic straws, polystyrene containers and the like may be “convenient” to bring and use, but their arbitrary disposal is surely a threat to the environment, the group said.

In lieu of single-use items that people normally bring to the beach, the group urged the public to go for reusable products, which can be cleaned and reused countless times such as reusable “bayong” and cloth carry bags, reusable dinnerware and cutlery, washable cloth napkins, etc.

Marine litter, as defined by the United Nations Environment Programme, refers to
“any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment.”

Also known as marine debris, marine litter includes “items that have been made or used by people and deliberately discarded into the sea or rivers or on beaches; brought indirectly to the sea with rivers, sewage, storm water or winds; accidentally lost, including material lost at sea in bad weather (fishing gear, cargo); or deliberately left by people on beaches and shores,” the UNEP said.

Aside from the ingestion, entanglement and habitat destruction issues, marine litter such as plastics may contain toxic chemicals and may provide the means to transport harmful chemicals to distant places resulting to the contamination of the marine food chain. 

Studies conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition in collaboration with partner organizations in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2016 showed alarming amounts of plastic marine litter, particularly in the Manila Bay.


In July 2016, a waste audit conducted by various zero waste groups at Freedom Island off the coast of
ParaƱaque City gathered 1,482 kilos of trash, 79 percent of which were 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).


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Reference:

http://www.un.org/Depts/los/global_reporting/WOA_RegProcess.htm (please see Chapter 25)


http://www.un.org/Depts/los/global_reporting/WOA_RPROC/Chapter_25.pdf

13 March 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Appeals to CA to “Give Gina Lopez a Chance, Give Mother Earth a Break”

Advocates and practitioners of zero waste resource management for a toxic-free future today appealed to the members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) to give Gina Lopez a chance to officially lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Through a press statement issued before the scheduled CA meeting on Wednesday, the EcoWaste Coalition prodded the lawmakers to decide in favor of confirming Lopez as DENR Secretary.

“We urge the CA to bestow upon her the task of leading and managing the DENR, the lead agency in charge of conserving and protecting the country’s environment, to ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources for the benefit of the Filipino people  today and the succeeding generations,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We support the decisive actions that she has taken so far to protect the country’s environment and natural resources against destructive mining activities.  We are one with her in halting such activities that have ravaged  our mountains and rivers, threatened the water systems and kept communities in abject poverty, while fattening the pockets of a few,” she added.

"Let us all give Gina the chance to pursue her activism within the DENR. Things will go well for Mother Earth with her at the helm," she stated.

At the same time, the group pledged to extend its cooperation and support to other essential environmental policies and programs that should be pursued by the DENR towards a truly green, zero waste and non-toxic economy.

This will include the vigorous enforcement of R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, to safely manage society’s discards, reduce waste volume and toxicity, and spawn clean recycling-based livelihood jobs, as well as pull the plug on deceptive quick-fix disposal schemes that bury or burn waste resources.  

Under her watch, Lopez was able to, as reported to the CA, dismantle illegal structures in Laguna Lake, stopped ash spill in Bataan, shut down 50 illegal quarrying operations in Mt. Banahaw, and intensified law enforcement operations in “illegal logging hotspots.”

“We remain hopeful that CA members would be able to go beyond their verbal appreciation of Gina’s passion to protect the environment.  We urge them to stand by her in fulfilling such colossal task by confirming her as DENR Secretary,”   Lucero said.

The EcoWaste Coalition has provided the CA with a copy of their statement of support for Gina’s confirmation signed by over 250 groups and individuals.

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12 March 2017

Retailers Urged Not to Sell Products without FDA Market Authorization

A chemical safety and zero waste advocacy group appealed to retailers to stop selling cosmetics, food products and supplements and household pesticides that have not undergone and passed quality and safety verification procedures by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise urged manufacturers, importers and distributors of such products to abide by the FDA registration or notification requirements ahead of the observance of the World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) on March15.

WCRD is an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and a chance to protest against the market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights, according to Consumers International.

“The proliferation of unregistered or unnotified products in the retail market, including online shopping, whose quality and safety cannot be guaranteed is a serious threat to public health,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.    

“We urge those responsible for placing such products on the market to stop this unlawful act, which violates the rights of consumers to product safety and to truthful product information, including their right to know the chemicals present in a product,” he said.   

The spate of public health advisories issued by the FDA against unregistered or unnotified products moved the EcoWaste Coalition to address its call for compliance to businesses and industries engaged in the production, importation, distribution and sale of such products that may pose risk to consumer health and safety.

From January 2017 to date, the FDA issued a record 50 advisories warning the consuming public against the procurement and consumption of a wide array of products, including cosmetics and personal care products, herbal products, slimming products and insect control products, without proper authorization from the agency.  

The FDA warned that consuming unregistered food products and supplements “may pose potential health hazards.”  Such products, the agency said, “should not bear any misleading, deceptive, and false claims in their labels and/or any promotional materials that will provide erroneous impression on products’ character or identity.”

As for unnotified cosmetics, “potential hazards may come from ingredients that are not allowed to be part of a cosmetic product or from the contamination of heavy metals such as mercury especially in whitening cosmetic products,” the FDA explained. 

“The use of substandard and possibly adulterated cosmetic products may result to adverse reactions including but not limited to skin irritation, itchiness, anaphylactic shock and organ failure,” the FDA warned.

With respect to unregistered household insecticides, “such products are harmful, toxic and may pose imminent danger to human and animal health.”

“The use of substandard and possibly adulterated household/urban pesticide products may result to adverse reactions including but not limited to skin irritation, itchiness, anaphylactic shock, respiratory disorders, endocrine complications, brain damage and organ failure,” it said.

“As the WCRD is observed, we also reiterate our call for consumer vigilance, which is key to preventing abuse, deceit and fraud in the marketplace,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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05 March 2017

21 Philippine Paint Companies Switch to Lead-Free Paint Formulations in Compliance with the Law


Twenty-one paint companies are now producing architectural, decorative and household (ADH) paints free of health-damaging lead-based-pigments, driers and anti-corrosion agents.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a chemical safety and zero waste watch group, revealed the good news after receiving written responses from paint manufacturers confirming their compliance with the three-year phase-out period for lead-containing ADH paints that ended last December 31, 2016.

The group further revealed that some companies have stopped or are on the verge of fully removing lead in paints used for industrial applications ahead of the deadline on December 31, 2019.

“We give our compliant paint manufacturers two thumbs up for meeting the phase-out requirements for lead in ADH paints as provided by law.  This is good news, especially for our children who are most vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead exposure,” remarked Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We credit the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) and the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM), as well as our paint chemists and their bosses and our untiring advocates for lead-safe children’s environment for this shared achievement,” she said.

“We also recognize the role of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (GAELP) in promoting the international target of phasing out lead-containing paints to prevent and reduce children’s and workers’ exposure to lead,” she added.

“The overwhelming response of the country’s paint makers provides a good barometer of the enforceability of the prohibition on lead-added paints and the readiness of the industry to innovate and comply,” she further said. 

Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. and Davies Paints Philippines, Inc. were ahead of the pack, phasing out lead-based raw materials in their paint production even before the issuance of DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, also known as the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

In 2016, the country’s top two paint manufacturers obtained third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification for 430 products under the Boysen, Nation, Titan and Virtuoso brands, and 379 products under the Davies brand.

As per the responses received by the EcoWaste Coalition to its latest outreach to the country's paint makers, 19 other companies have shifted to non-lead raw materials for ADH paints, which are used for painting interior or exterior walls and surfaces of homes and schools, and for decorating furniture and even children’s products such as cribs and toys.

Among these companies are Add Research Paints & Chemicals, Inc., A-Jaycee Chemicals Trading Corp., Andalucia Manufacturing Corp., Asian Coatings Philippines, Inc., Campbridge Paints, Inc., Century Chemical Corp., FH Colors & Coatings Corp., Globesco, Inc., Magna Prime Chemical Technologies, Inc., March Resources Manufacturing Corp., Mayon Industrial Corp., Nippon Paint Philippines Inc., Roosevelt Chemical, Inc., Super Globe, Inc., Sycwin Coatings & Wires, Inc., Times Paint Corp., Treasure Island Industrial Corp., Twin Aces Industries, Inc. and Universal Paint & Coatings, Inc.

On the other hand, the EcoWaste Coalition regretted not receiving formal responses from the following companies: 3 Star Marketing, Breb Color Paint Station, Cameron Enterprises, Cebu 7H Technochem Industries, Inc.,  GB Dionisio Marketing, Globe International Distributor Center, Inc., Paradise Chemical Corp., Prime Coating & Chemical Inc., RCAC Capitol Ventures Corp., and Ultracote Paints & Coatings Corp. 

Lead in paint studies conducted in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2015 by the EcoWaste Coalition in collaboration with IPEN, a global civil society organization promoting safe chemicals policies and practices, revealed that the vast majority of oil-based ADH paints sold locally had lead concentrations above 90 parts per million (ppm), the maximum allowable limit for lead in paint under the DENR A.O. 2013-24.

The latest study released in 2015 found lead above 90 ppm in 97 out of 140 oil-based ADH paints comprising 44 brands.  Of the 97 lead-laden paints, 63 contained dangerously high lead concentrations exceeding 10,000 ppm with one product, a lemon yellow quick-dry enamel paint, containing the highest total lead content at 153,000 ppm.

The EcoWaste Coalition will again undertake a lead in paint study this year to determine the reduction in lead-containing ADH paints sold in the market following the three-year phase-out period.

According to GAELP, “children can be severely affected by eating lead-based paint chips, chewing on objects, including toys painted with lead-based paint, or from exposure to dust or soil that contains lead from paint.”

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

“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,” it said.

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


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Reference:

http://server2.denr.gov.ph/uploads/rmdd/dao-2013-24.pdf
http://www.ipen.org/site/philippines
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/lead/en/

02 March 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes Ban on Use of Arsenic for Wood Treatment and Preservation

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/kim-515837-mine-toxic.html

The EcoWaste Coalition urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) to strengthen the proposed regulation on toxic inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, by removing exemption on its use in pesticides for the treatment of wood.

As the lead agency in charge of drawing up regulatory controls for substances in the Philippine Priority Chemicals List, the non-profit toxics watch group lauded the DENR-EMB for embarking on such a policy initiative that will regulate, phase out or ban arsenic and its compounds as these chemicals pose serious risks to public health and the environment. 

“We support the issuance of the said CCO and specifically support the ban on arsenic and arsenic compounds in the manufacturing of fertilizers, pesticides, wood treatment and preservation products, commercial pigments and paints, toys, school supplies and cosmetics,” stated Eileen B. Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition, in a letter delivered to the DENR last Monday.

At the same time, the group sought a more stringent short-term exposure limit to protect workers’ health and the removal of the exemption on the use of arsenic for pesticides used in the treatment of wood.

The group also asked for a more rational phase-out timelines for arsenic-containing wood treatment and preservation products that will prioritize the removal from the market of those products posing the highest exposure risk to children, women and other vulnerable sectors.

Information from the Toxicology Data Network indicates that chromated copper arsenate or CCA is used in pressure treated wood to protect it from rotting due to insects and microbial agents.  In US, effective December 31, 2003, no wood treater or manufacturer may treat wood with CCA for residential uses, with certain exceptions.

As described by the World Health Organization (WHO), “the intake of the acutely toxic inorganic arsenic over a long period of time can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning or arsenicosis.” The WHO has  listed arsenic among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”

“Effects, which can take years to develop depending on the level of exposure, include skin lesions, peripheral neuropathy, gastrointestinal symptoms, diabetes, renal system effects, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” the WHO said. 

As long-term actions are required to reduce exposure to arsenic, the EcoWaste Coalition  recommended removing exemption in the draft CCO permitting the use of arsenic in pesticides for wood treatment.

The group cited the “Arsenic Treated Wood Ordinance” in San Francisco, USA to justify the removal of such exemption, which says that “preservative-treated wood containing arsenic poses potential human health and environmental risks through the release of arsenic during manufacture, installation, and disposal of wood.”

According to the US National Center for Healthy Housing, “arsenic can leach to the surface of the treated wood, becoming accessible for absorption through exposed hands and skin touching the wood surface and, especially in the case of children, ingestion through normal hand-to-mouth behavior.”

The EcoWaste Coalition also cited that under the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), “arsenic compounds shall not be used in the preservation of wood. Furthermore, wood so treated shall not be placed on the market.”

With respect to the phase-out timelines, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested that a survey be conducted in order to prioritize the phase-out of wood and treatment preservation products that present the highest exposure risk to children, women, workers and other potentially disproportionately exposed populations. 

“The government through the CCO can then make appropriate phase-out timelines and encourage the market for safer alternatives,” it said.

The current draft of the CCO would allow the use for three years of arsenic-containing wood treatment and preservation products for architectural, decorative and household uses and six years for industrial uses.  

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Reference:
http://emb.gov.ph/wp-content/u ploads/2016/09/CCO-for-Arsenic -Draft-4-edited.pdf
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assess ment/public_health/chemicals_p hc/en/
http://www.nchh.org/What-We-Do /Health-Hazards--Prevention-- and-Solutions/ArsenicTreated-W ood.aspx