29 December 2017

Groups Warn: Firecrackers Hurt Cats and Dogs, Too

The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the EcoWaste Coalition have again joined forces to give voice to cats and dogs who lack the power to speak and defend themselves against firecrackers and fireworks.

At an event held at the PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center in Quezon City, the groups drew public attention to the negative effects of firecrackers and fireworks to our canine and feline friends.

The event also served to highlight the plight of hundreds of Asong Pinoys (aspins) and Pusang Pinoys (puspins) in the streets who are deeply traumatized when firecrackers are thrown at them.

“Animal cruelty is a crime. We warn those who may be thinking of committing dangerous pranks on stray animals that they could end up imprisoned or heavily fined if they hurt animals,” said Anna Cabrera, Executive Director of PAWS.

“We wanted a total ban on firecrackers not only because ear-splitting sounds from firecrackers can cause a lot of stress for dogs and cats but because of the air pollution they cause,” she said.

“The loud noise and the smell of exploding firecrackers may result in disorientation, loss of appetite, and an upset stomach for our furry friends,” she added.

“As they cannot speak for themselves, we need to speak out in defense of cats and dogs who suffer a lot from the deafening mayhem, especially on New Year’s eve.  The need to protect them from acoustic torture provides another reason why we should abandon the use of firecrackers,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

During the event, Sharon Therese Bengzon-Yap, Education Officer of PAWS, provided some practical tips to help cats and dogs cope with the firecracker explosions during the New Year’s revelry.

These tips include:

1. Keep pets indoors, but do not chain or tie them. Please remember that it is not advisable to keep an unsupervised dog tied to a leash for long periods of time. Tethering for dogs should only be for a limited period -never 24/7 and certainly never during times when the animal could be stressed out due to loud sounds.

2. Exercise pets in the morning so they will be tired by night time and hopefully, resting or fast asleep by the time the New Year’s revelry begins.

3.  Provide a safe refuge for pets like a well-ventilated room with closed windows, and ensure their access to drinking water.

4.  Play a soothing music or put the TV on to neutralize the noise from the outside.

5.  Put a calming wrap or anxiety vest on pets to make them feel protected and secure.

6.  If possible, give stray or wandering animals temporary shelter in your yard. Do not shoo them away, give them food and water, and let them stay at least for the night.  

PAWS and the EcoWaste Coalition further advised households to keep plastic bags, cleaning agents, tobacco products, alcoholic drinks and holiday treats such as chocolate, fruit cake and nuts out of the reach of pets to prevent pet poisoning incidents.


28 December 2017

Barangay and SK Officials Urged to Rid Neighborhoods of Piccolo and Other Illegal Firecrackers

As the festive celebration of the New Year nears, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the country’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials to comb streets within their jurisdiction to stop the sale of Piccolo and other banned firecrackers.

“We can win the war versus Piccolo, the biggest culprit behind most firecracker-related injuries, if barangay and SK leaders, together with the police force, will take action against recalcitrant dealers,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Local barangay officials are in a strategic position to monitor and halt the sale of Piccolo and other prohibited firecrackers like Atomic Bomb Triangulo, Goodbye Earth, Judas’ Belt, Super Lolo, Whistle Bomb and Watusi in areas under their care and jurisdiction,” she pointed out.

“We therefore urge the barangay and youth councils to spend the next few days combing the streets to apprehend sari-sari store owners and others engaged in the unlawful sale of banned firecrackers, including those that sell firecrackers to minors,” she said.

Republic Act 7183, a law regulating and controlling the manufacture, sale, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices, penalizes violators with a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P30,000, or imprisonment from six months to one year, or both such fine and jail term.

For a safer and cleaner celebration of the New Year, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the public to take the following “don’ts” to heart:

1.  Don’t light firecrackers. 
2.  Don’t fire guns. 
3.  Don’t use "boga" (improvised cannon). 
4.  Don’t burn used tires.
5.  Don’t burn garbage.
6.  Don’t release sky lanterns.
7.  Don’t use substandard Christmas lights.

Tomorrow, December 29, the EcoWaste Coalition will stage another “Iwas Paputoxic” event in collaboration with the Philippine Animal Welfare Society to draw attention to the adverse effects of firecrackers and fireworks to cats and dogs.

The EcoWaste Coalition is civil society partner of the Department of Health-led "Iwas Paputok" campaign involving the Philippine National Police,  the Bureau of Fire Protection and other agencies. 


27 December 2017

Parade Drums Up Community Support for a Safe and Clean Welcome of the New Year

Brandishing improvised noisemakers of various types and sounds, residents marched through the streets of Malate to show a cheer-filled way of ringing in 2018 without injury and pollution from firecrackers.

Jointly organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Our Lady of Remedies Parish, the “Iwas Paputoxic: Ligtas Na, Malinis Pa” parade showcased harmless and emission-free noisemakers such as pans, pots and ladles, ukuleles, and maracas, shakers and tambourines fashioned out of recycled materials. 

Joining the festive crowd were Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana, and local police, fire and barangay officials.

“For a change, let us  welcome 2018 with fresh air and unsoiled surroundings by not igniting firecrackers and fireworks and not burning used tires and garbage, which all contribute to avoidable pollution and exposure to health-damaging chemicals,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, civil society partner of DOH’s “Iwas Paputok” campaign.

“For a safer and cleaner celebration of the New Year, I urge our communities to rejoice without dirtying the air we breathe and inflicting harm on fellow humans and the animals.  Funds for firecrackers and pyrotechnics are better diverted to charities providing humanitarian aid to victims of the Marawi siege and the recent typhoons Urduja and Vinta,” said Father Leo Distor, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Remedies Parish.

At the program preceding the parade, Internist-Pulmonologist Dr. Maria Encarnita Blanco-Limpin, Chairperson of the Environment Health and Ecology Committee of the Philippine Medical Association, warned that “air pollutants from the use of the firecrackers and fireworks do affect the air quality, posing health risks, particularly among infants, children and youth, the elderly, and persons with heart, nervous system and respiratory conditions.”

Air pollution may cause or worsen asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, pneumonia, rhinitis, sinusitis and other respiratory illnesses, as well as cardiovascular ailments.  Among the pollutants of concern include particulate matters, heavy metal oxides, greenhouse gases and other air contaminants.

“With the stricter enforcement of related laws and ordinances and the indispensable cooperation of the public, we hope to see further progress in reducing firecracker-related injuries as well as the associated pollution from the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


23 December 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Filipinos: ‘Recyclepamore’ This Christmas to Cut on ‘Holitrash’

As Christmas is happily celebrated, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded the general public to “recyclepamore” to reduce the volume of holiday trash or “holitrash” from the festive occasion. 

Amid the climate and garbage woes facing the nation, it is incumbent on all Filipinos to keep reusable, recyclable and compostable discards out of bins and dumps consistent with R.A. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act), the waste and pollution watch group emphasized.

“We request the faithful to place the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) at the heart of the joyful celebration.  Reducing the quantity of what we throw away does not require rocket science.  ‘Recyclepamore’ is as simple as ABC,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.    

“It all begins with consuming responsibly and keeping our discards well sorted to make their reusing, recycling or composting easy,” he said.

“Instead of ripping and throwing them to the bin, we can save those bags, wrappers and ribbons for the next gift-giving season, or reuse or repurpose them for household, office and school needs,” he suggested. 

“Every packaging item that is not disposed of and put to good use is good for the environment.  Of course, it is better not to wrap gifts at all to avoid the use and depletion of resources,” he pointed out. 

The EcoWaste Coalition cited several ways of preventing Christmas packaging from adding to the “holitrash.”

Paper or plastic gift bags can be reused as a carry bag, as a receptacle for office or school documents and materials, or as a container for holiday decorations.

Wrappers can be folded neatly and use as book or notebook cover or as a material for school art and craft projects, while ribbons can be made into an ornamental garland or stored for future uses. 

Gift boxes can be reused as an organizer for e-gadgets and accessories, photos, prayer articles, toys, trinkets, needles, threads, buttons and other sewing essentials, bills, letters, etc.

Hampers can be reused as a container for fruits, vegetables, and indoor plants.

Greeting cards can be cut into bookmarks or kept as art materials; gift tags can be used for labeling purposes; and money envelopes can be reused to keep name cards, ID photos and the like.

The EcoWaste Coalition added that discards from the holiday food preparations can be washed, dried and reused or repurposed in a variety of ways.

For example, tin cans, juice and milk packs, and plastic bottles can be used for container gardening, or reused as an organizer for accessories, jewelry, keys and office supplies, while empty bottle jars can be reused as a container for candies, jams and preservers made from overripe fruits. 

“Composting is an excellent way to recycle holiday food waste such as fruit peels, vegetable scraps, eggshells and other organics into nutrient rich fertilizer or soil amendment,” said Alejandre. 

“By not mixing discards and with a little creativity, we can surely cut down on the huge quantities of ‘holitrash’ sent to the dumps,” he added.

As per government estimates, the whole country produces over 40,000 tons of trash per day.  Metro Manila’s daily waste generation is approximately 9,213 tons.  

With increased consumption and disposal, waste production soars during the Christmas and New Year holidays.


22 December 2017

Group Appeals to Visitors: Keep Parks Litter-Free and Smoke-Free during the Holidays

A waste and pollution watch group today appealed for public cooperation in keeping Metro Manila’s parks litter-free and smoke-free during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

The EcoWaste Coalition aired the appeal ahead of the festive holidays that are expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors to popular parks, particularly the Rizal Park (Luneta) in Manila City, Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) in Quezon City, and other parks, both public and private, all over the metropolis.

“The large number of visitors expected in Luneta, QMC and other recreational parks poses a big challenge to the small number of waste sweepers and collectors who have to work around the clock to keep these favorite places clean,” said  Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“Many park visitors, especially during the eve of Christmas and New Year, unashamedly abandon their garbage behind due to utter lack of discipline and probably because many people are doing it,” he said.

Plastic bags and bottles, food and beverage containers such as Styrofoam packs and cups, food leftovers, cigarette filters, and paper or plastic materials used as picnic blanket or sleeping sheet are among the waste items frequently left by park visitors.  

As we tend to imitate what people around us are doing, the EcoWaste Coalition prodded concerned citizens who are plannning to go to the park during the holidays to mind their trash and make it known that littering is unacceptable.

“If we have more citizens minding their own trash and rightly frowning upon littering in public places, litterbugs may be persuaded not to litter,” stated Alejandre.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged visitors to keep the parks smoke-free noting that parks should provide a healthy and safe environment for all, especially for the vulnerable groups like young children, pregnant women and the elderly. 

“As Luneta and QMC are people’s parks, we ask smokers not to smoke or vape there,” requested Alejandre.

“We also appeal to park administrators to be vigilant against cigarette smoking to prevent secondhand smoke exposure among children and non-smoking adults visiting the parks,” he added.   

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that it is everyone’s responsibility to protect Rizal Park, QMC and other tree-studded open spaces, which are the green lungs of our bustling cities, from garbage and smoke. 


20 December 2017

Shoppers Beware: Christmas-Themed Ceramic Ware Found Laden with Toxic Cadmium and Lead

As shopping frenzy reaches fever pitch this week, a chemical safety advocacy group warned consumers that some Christmas-themed mugs and plates may contain undisclosed amounts of cadmium and lead.

The EcoWaste Coalition revealed that the 12 coffee mugs and 8 flat plates bought by the group from retailers in Quiapo, Manila screened positive for both cadmium and lead.

The colorful mugs and plates are adorned with assorted images of Santa Claus and other favorite Christmas icons and sold for P25 to P100 each.

As per X-Ray Fluorescence screening, all the items contained high levels of lead and cadmium.  A plate with Santa design, for example, had 10,100 parts per million (ppm) of lead and 2,113 ppm of cadmium, while a mug with a Christmas tree design had 12,600 ppm lead and 2,912 cadmium.

None of the analyzed mugs and plates provided information on their chemical composition, and none provided any cautionary warnings.

Cadmium can cause cancer, while lead can harm the brain and the central nervous system resulting in decreased intelligence, developmental disabilities and behavioral problems, among a long list of health problems, the EcoWaste Coalition said. 

“While the XRF screening is unable to determine if cadmium and/or lead can leach out of these mugs and plates, the results provide a good marker on the presence of these toxic chemicals in glazes or in paints, which can pose a potential health risk for workers and for consumers, especially if used for preparing, storing or serving highly acidic foods and liquids,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“There are ceramic ware in retail stores with no detectable cadmium or lead that have glossy finish, bright colors, and beautiful designs.  Unfortunately, consumers will not know which ones are safe from these toxic substances due to lack of chemicals in products labeling information,” he added. 

“Consumers should demand for cadmium-free and lead-free ceramic ware.  If no assurance can be provided that a mug or plate is safe from cadmium and lead, it will be better to opt for clear glass items with no painted decorations or markings, so long as these are not made of leaded crystal," he suggested.

Last December 8, the US Food and Drug Administration issued Import Alert No. 52-08 notifying field personnel about ceramic ware containing excessive cadmium and lead from certain manufacturers and/or shippers. 

According to the US FDA, “lead and cadmium are components of the glaze used in making ceramic ware, and can leach into foods in significant amounts when the glaze is improperly formulated, applied, or fired.”

“Lead can also leach from the colors used to make patterns in some ceramic ware,” it added. 


Reference: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_122.html

19 December 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Conducts “Iwas Paputoxic” Drive for an Injury-Free, Pollution-Free New Year’s Revelry

“Iwas paputoxic: ligtas na, malinis pa.”

This was the resounding plea of the EcoWaste Coalition at the launch of its annual campaign to encourage the general public to greet the New Year in a safe and cleaner manner sans injurious and noxious firecrackers.

Held at the Marcelo H. Del Pilar Elementary School in Quezon City, the “Iwas Paputoxic” event drew the lively participation of some 1,000 students and their teachers who manifested their support to a firecracker-free and waste-free revelry.

Led by school principal Mrs. Aireen Dulfo, Miss Philippines Eco-Tourism Vanessa Mae Castillo  and guests from the health and police departments, the school assembly showed a fun way of celebrating the New Year through the use of eco-friendly and safe noisemakers that will not pose danger to life, limb, property and the environment. 

 “Year in and year out, we usher in the New Year tallying the number of firecracker blast victims.  We hope it will be a totally different scenario this time with the implementation of Executive Order No. 28, which provides for stricter regulation and control of the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We urge everyone to rally behind the energized multi-sectoral campaign led by the Department of Health to achieve zero firecracker-related injuries as the nation welcomes 2018, hopefully, with less toxic smoke and litter as well,” she said.

While there were no fatalities, some 630 firecracker-related injuries were recorded from December 21, 2016 to  January 5, 2017 with banned piccolo as the ruthless culprit.

To hammer home the message that firecrackers are not toys, three students dressed themselves up as firecracker blast victims with tattered clothes, bloodied faces, and severed fingers.

The EcoWaste Coalition also pointed to a cleaner environment as another benefit of not igniting firecrackers,  noting that young children, the elderly and persons with chemical sensitivities suffer the most from firecracker emissions.

The lighting of firecrackers, as well as fireworks, cause the release of air pollutants, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matters and other contaminants, which may aggravate asthma and respiratory tract infections and even trigger cardiac arrests.

Aside from the high levels of air pollutants, the detonation of firecrackers generates residual wastes such as charred containers and wrappers that are equally hazardous and cannot be recycled.

In lieu of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends alternative means of merrymaking such as the use of kitchen and laundry utensils such as pots, basins, and pails, as well as torotot and improvised maracas, shakers and tambourines from recycled materials.


EcoWaste Coalition Lauds Passage of HB 6702 on Safe and Non-Hazardous Children's Products

A non-profit chemical safety watch group lauded the House of Representatives for the unanimous approval of a bill that seeks to protect children from dangerous substances lurking in some toys and other products produced and marketed for children’s use.

The EcoWaste Coalition described the approval of House Bill No. 6702, or the “Safe and Non-Hazardous Children Products Act, as lawmakers’ “Christmas gift to Filipino children of the present and future generations.”

“We commend the 17th Congress for the early approval of H.B. No. 6702, which seeks to safeguard the health and safety of all children from chemical substances that can adversely affect their growth and development,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope our good senators will follow suit and approve next year the counterpart measure (Senate Bill No. 1084) introduced by Senator JV Ejercito.  The current Congress, we trust, will succeed in getting this law passed to rid the market of harmful children’s products and curb childhood exposure to perilous chemicals in such products,” he added.      

“H.B. No. 6702 outlaws children’s products containing hazardous chemicals exceeding permissible levels, and places the burden of proof of product safety upon the manufacturers, importers and sellers,” he pointed out.

H.B. No. 6702 was co-introduced by Representatives Primicias-Agabas, Bravo, Canama, Macapagal-Arroyo, Roque, Salon, Yu, Sarmiento (E.M.), Agabao, Gonzales (A.P.), Nograles (K.A.), Fariñas, Biazon, Go (A.C.), Lanete, Lobregat, Alonte-Naguiat, Amatong, Aragones, Bag-Ao, Benitez, Deloso-Montalla, Escudero, Go (M.), Hofer, Lacson, Malapitan, Montoro, Paduano, Ramos, Jr., Suansing (E.), Tan, Tugna, Velasco-Catera and Villarin.

Among the chemicals deemed most harmful to children and commonly used in the manufacture of children’s products, according to H.B. No. 6702, include toxic metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury and nickel, phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA).  

“This is just an initial list as the bill requires the biennial updating of the list of hazardous chemicals in children’s products, or as soon as new chemicals are uncovered to be detrimental to children’s health and safety,” Dizon clarified.

As explained in the Fact Sheet prepared by the HoR, H.B. No. 6702, “bans the importation, manufacture, distribution and sale of children’s products that contain more than the allowable levels of the chemicals; are banned or withdrawn in the country of manufacture; are found to be injurious, unsafe or dangerous; or are non-compliant with the standards and requirements set by the relevant agencies.”

To curb the unlawful entry of non-compliant products, “imported children’s products shall be allowed entry when accompanied by Certificates of Testing or Analysis of its composition,” and “the Bureau of Customs shall require pertinent clearance or certification from the Food and Drug Administration prior to entry.”

Other key provisions of the bill include the establishment of a Children’s Product Safety Council chaired by the Department of Health and comprised of 10 government agencies and two non-government organizations. 

H.B. No. 6702 penalizes violators with suspension or revocation of license to operate, seizure of products, imprisonment from one to 10 years or a fine ranging from 50 thousand to five million pesos, or both.

H.B. No. 6702 further encourages the filing of citizen suits against any person or any officer/employee of an implementing agency who violates or willfully neglects the provisions of the law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

- end -


Link to H.B. No. 6702:

Link to S.B. No. 1084:

17 December 2017

Holiday Reminder: Prevent, Reduce and Safely Manage Your E-Waste

With holiday shopping in full swing, a toxics watch group wasted no time in reminding consumers to think about public health and the environment as electrical appliances and electronic gadgets are replaced with something new and eventually discarded.

To promote e-waste prevention, reduction and safe management, the non-profit EcoWaste Coalition today conducted a public outreach at Quezon Memorial Circle to inform the public about e-waste, which is described as “one of the fastest growing waste streams” across the globe.

The event followed the release last December 13 of the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017 by the International Telecommunication Union, United Nations University and the International Solid Waste Association indicating the rising levels of e-waste and its improper and usafe treatment and disposal through burning or dumping.  Globally, some 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated in 2016 or 6.1 kg per inhabitant. Filipinos  produced 2 to 5 kg of e-waste per inhabitant, according to the report.  Experts estimate that e-waste generation will reach 52.2 million metric tonnes by 2021.

“Broken appliances, outmoded gadgets, busted lamps and other unwanted electrical and electronic products that are improperly recycled, burned or disposed of can pollute the environment with health-damaging chemicals,” cautioned Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Among the hazardous substances that make up electrical and electronic equipment and their wastes are heavy metals such as cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead and mercury, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDes) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), among dozens of other toxic chemical compounds.

The EcoWaste Coalition explained that reckless disposal practices can result in the release of these nasty chemicals, some of which like mercury, PBDEs and PCBs are covered by multilateral environmental agreements like the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the Stockholm Convention on POPs.  

When e-wastes such as vinyl-coated cables are burned to get the copper wire, harmful byproduct POPs like dioxins and furans are formed and released to the environment, the group explained.  Dioxins are considered as among “the most toxic chemicals known to science.”

Fluorescent lamps when dumped with ordinary trash or manually dismantled to remove the metal parts for recycling will release the mercury vapor out of the glass tubing and cause toxic pollution, the group added.  Exposure to mercury, a potent neurotoxin, can damage the brain and the central nervous system.

When the plastic casings of cathode ray tube TVs and computer monitors are incinerated or landfilled, toxic PBDEs are released contaminating the environment. PBDEs are among the new POPs targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention.

During the event, members of the San Vicente Elementary School Children’s Rondalla played Christmas songs as EcoWaste Coalition volunteers donning headgears with images of mobile phone, TV, laptop and other electrical and electronic products drew public attention on the hazads of e-waste.  

According to the leaflet “E-Waste ‘to, Iwasto!,” “e-wastes should be returned to their manufacturers for proper management as an ideal solution.  Otherwise, e-wastes should be managed by accredited treatment, storage and disposal facility.  These can be effectively done by instituting appropriate drop-off or collection points for their safe and ecological retrieval/collection, storage, and recycling or disposal.” 

The leaflet was prepared by the EcoWaste Coalition for the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with assistance from Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

To avoid and minimize the creation of e-waste this Yuletide season, the EcoWaste Coalition requested consumers to consider the following tips:

1. Extend the life of your existing electronics instead of buying new ones. Consider whether you truly need to get new ones before rushing to buy the latest stuff. 
2. Have broken electronics repaired.
3. Have outdated component of an electronic product refurbished or upgraded instead of buying an entirely new replacement.
4.  Never dispose of unwanted but still usable electronics.  Pass them on to relatives and friends for reuse or donate to charities and schools. What might be of no use to you, might come in handy for some people.
5.  Collect spent household batteries, cellphone batteries, fluorescent lamps, empty ink cartridges and the like, label and safely store them in a container with cover and kept out of reach of children and pets.  These should be safely managed or disposed of in an environmentally-sound manner and not mixed with regular waste.
6. Visit the manufacturer’s website or call the dealer to find out if they have a take-back program or scheme for your discarded electronics.
7. If you really need to spend for new electronics, choose items with less hazardous substances, with greater recycled content, with higher energy efficiency, with longer life span, and those that will produce less waste.
8.  Take good care of your electronic device – whether it’s brand new, refurbished or hand-me down - as sound maintenance will prolong its lifespan.  Read the instruction manual carefully and get acquainted and trained on easy fix-it-yourself guide.
9. Make it a point to have your e-scrap properly recycled by authorized recyclers so that they don’t end up as e-waste to be thrown away or burned.

Link to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017


13 December 2017

Group Urges Consumers to Shun Toxic Christmas Presents

As the holiday shopping season gets underway, a chemical safety watch group reminded consumers to be on the lookout for potentially dangerous gift products in the marketplace.

After releasing its list of hazardous toys (haztoys) last Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition today has come up with a new list of non-toy gift items that are laden with hidden toxins such as cadmium and lead.

“With Christmas just a few days away, we see consumers packing out malls to buy heaps of holiday presents for relatives, colleagues and friends.  Retail stores in Divisoria, the hub of cheap finds, are enjoying brisk sales for various gifts imaginable,” observed Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“But, as we all know, not all gift items are created equal.  As not all products are regulated or are compliant with quality and safety standards, it is not uncommon to find harmful chemicals in some gift items above levels of concern,” he said.

"Furthermore, these items are inadequately labeled, providing not even a clue on their toxic composition," he added. 

To alert and to educate consumers about the undisclosed toxic substances lurking in some gift items, the EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday and Monday bought assorted gift items from 11/88, 168. 999 and Lucky Chinatown shopping malls in Divisoria and from retail stores in Quiapo.

The products costing P40 to P140 each were then screened for toxic metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.  

Comprising the group’s list of 12 hazardous gifts (hazgifts) are:

1. Spongebob coffee mug, P50, with 15,800 ppm lead and 974 ppm cadmium

2. Fashion Milk Cup, P140, with 15,600 ppm lead and 2,020 ppm cadmium

3. Champion coffee mug, P70, with 12,300 ppm lead and 687 ppm cadmium

4.  Xiao Dang Ja coffee mug, P60, with 11,000 ppm lead and 3,086 ppm cadmium

5.  Santa Claus-themed plate, P100, with 10,500 ppm lead and 2,947 ppm cadmium

6.  Christmas bells-themed plate, P40, with 6798 ppm lead and 3,855 ppm cadmium

7.  Fashion Cup with Minion characters, P50, with 3,982 ppm lead and 1,661 ppm cadmium

8.  Christmas ball-themed plate, P40, with 3,441 ppm lead and 1,207 ppm cadmium

9.  Enfill de Jouer coin purse, P50, with 2,678 ppm lead

10.  Santa Claus coffee mug, P40, with 3,298 ppm lead and 2,288 ppm cadmium

11.  Saglife black and yellow body bag, P100, with 1,511 ppm lead

12.  Pikachu sling bag, P80, with 1,079 ppm lead and 222 ppm cadmium

"Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen," according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lead, according to the WHO, is "a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems."  

Cadmium and lead belong to WHO’s list of “ten chemicals of major public health concern." 

Cadmium and lead and their compounds are also listed in the Philippine Priority Chemicals List, which includes chemical substances that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has “determined to potentially pose unreasonable risk to public health, workplace, and the environment.”





12 December 2017

Groups Give Waste Incineration Bill Thumbs Down

Green groups belonging to No Burn Pilipinas alliance denounced  the approval yesterday by the House of Representatives (HoR) Committee on Ecology of a bill repealing the waste incineration ban under R.A. 8749, or the Clean Air Act of 1999.

The Bangon Kalikasan Movement, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm and the Mother Earth Foundation criticized the committee for hastily giving the nod to the Regulation of Thermal Treatment Technology Act proposed by Aklan Rep. Carlito Marquez and others that consequently revokes Section 20 of R.A. 8749.

Considered a milestone in pollution prevention, the incineration ban disallows “the burning of municipal, biomedical and hazardous waste, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes.”  R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, reinforced the ban by requiring the “adoption of the best practice in ecological waste management excluding incineration.”

Decrying the absence of serious efforts by the HoR  to conduct balanced and comprehensive studies on the issue, green groups slammed the Committee for the haste and lack of transparency that attended the process, especially given the serious health, socio-economic, and public health implications of the proposed measure.

Currently marketed by the industry as so-called “waste-to-energy” plants, these facilities, aside from increasing cancer risks, are more expensive than coal and nuclear plants, more harmful to the climate than coal, and generate very little electricity while burning up resources that may still be recovered, reused or recycled, the groups asserted.

“The pro-incineration bill is unconstitutional and threatens to create  massive disaster to the environment and irreversible damage to the health of all people, especially children for generations to come," stated Joey Papa, President, Bangon Kalikasan Movement. 

Papa pointed out that incineration violates  Section 16 of the Philippine Constitution of 1987 ("The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."); Section 20 of R.A. 8749 ("Incineration... the burning of municipal, biomedical, and hazardous waste, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes, is hereby prohibited."); and  Section 3 of R.A. 9003 ("Resource recovery shall refer to the collection, extraction or recovery of recyclable materials from the waste stream for the purpose of recycling, generating energy or producing a product suitable for beneficial use: Provided that such resource recovery facilities exclude incineration."). 

“Far from solving our garbage woes, the lifting of the incineration ban as proposed by some lawmakers will only compound our problems as incinerators can inflict harm to human health and the ecosystems, contribute significantly to environmental pollution and global warming, and fuel an unsustainable system of unbridled production, crass consumerism, and throw-away culture," said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Burning trash is a regressive approach to waste management that is being phased out in other parts of the world which are now pursuing a more sustainable circular economy,” said Lea Guerrero, climate and clean energy campaigner of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). “Our lawmakers must reject this bill. We are also calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to seriously reconsider his plans to pursue incineration which puts the Filipino people’s welfare and the environment at risk.”

"Incineration will be tantamount to national regression.  It will be an illogical step backward.  We already have the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which adheres to the ways and rhythms of nature, the best in the world.  Instead of making it work with the needed political will, why would we go to a dangerous, expensive technology that many advanced nations are turning their back on?," said Dr. Angelina Galang, President, Green Convergence.

“No Burn Pilipinas believes that the haste surrounding the bill is highly irregular and deplorable given that what is under deliberation will undermine cornerstone environmental laws,” said Ramon San Pascual, executive director of Health Care Without Harm. “This issue deserves more deliberation and public discussion than the hurried token consultations our honorable representatives have deemed sufficient.”

According to Sonia Mendoza, chairman of Mother Earth Foundation, “The push to repeal the incineration ban will undermine source segregation, recycling, and other Zero Waste strategies that conserve precious resources, avoid toxic pollution, and generate livelihoods and jobs. Instead of overturning the prohibition on waste burning, Congress should in fact strengthen it by supporting the strict implementation of RA 9003 through innovative Zero Waste projects in the country.”

No Burn Pilipinas is an alliance of civil society groups who are advocating Zero Waste technologies and are calling on the government to uphold the ban on waste incineration.


11 December 2017

Watch Group Names 10 Haztoys (Hazardous Toys) to Tip Off Consumers on Toys to Avoid this Christmas

A non-profit watch group promoting children’s health and safety today released a list of toys that may put a child at risk of physical injuries and chemical exposures.

“Children are uniquely susceptible to the negative effects of shoddily made and chemically laden toys as their immature bodies and minds are still growing and developing,  It is the responsibility of  toy manufacturers, distributors and vendors, and even individual toy givers, to offer toys that meet quality and safety standards in recognition of the right of children to safe games and toys to play with,” reminded Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“While all children are vulnerable to injuries and chemical exposures, children from families living in poverty may be at increased risk due to their lack of purchasing power and their lack of access to product safety information, justice and redress,” he added.

In a bid to keep unsafe toys out of children’s hands, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with a list of hazardous toys (haztoys) that are often sold without the required market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the country’s toy regulator.

“Through this list, we hope to hammer home the need for consumer awareness and vigilance against unsafe toys this Christmas season,” Dizon said.  “It is not an exhaustive list of toys in the market that may present various health and safety hazards to innocent children,” he clarified.

Among those that landed on the EcoWaste Coalition’s list of 10 “haztoys” are baby rattles, fidget spinners, a xylophone, doll figures, a “Shrilling Chicken,” duck bath toys, toy artificial nails, a Rubik’s Cube-like toy, a toy car, and battle swords. 

I. Baby Rattles.  Sold very cheaply for as low as P15, rattles come in various types and sizes and are often sold without choking hazard warnings in violation of R.A. 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act.  Rattles can break and release the small beads, bearings or balls inside, posing a choking hazard to helpless babies.  

II. Fidget Spinners.  Also called hand spinners, these popular toys contain bearings and bushings that many come off and get ingested by children.  Aside from its small parts that may detach and its pointed edges that may cause cuts or lacerations, the EcoWaste Coalition found a “Ninja Animation” hand spinner adorned with a yellow paint containing dangerous lead concentrations amounting to 125,100 parts per million (ppm), way above the 90 ppm limit.  Lead, a toxic metal, can wreak havoc on the developing brain, leading to reduced intelligence.  

III. “Wonderful Music Xylophone.”  While lead was not detected on the other coated metal bars of this musical instrument, the orange bar was found to contain 10,800 ppm total lead, in violation of the 90 ppm limit under the DENR’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

IV: Doll Figures.  Cadmium, a carcinogenic chemical, was detected on the paint coatings of these unlabeled dolls at 1,200 ppm.  Like lead, cadmium can disrupt the development of a child’s brain, causing learning disabilities.

V. Shrilling Chicken.  This “screaming” chicken toy may contain banned substances such as di(2- ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCPPs).  A laboratory analysis contracted by the EcoWaste Coalition found a sample of Shrilling Chicken laden with 19.1% DEHP, exceeding the 0.1% limit.  Luxembourg banned Shrilling Chicken in 2017, Spain in 2016, and the Czech Republic in 2014 due to its DEHP content.  Sweden banned it in 2013 for containing highly toxic SCPPs.

VI. Floating Duck Bath Toy.  Supposedly a fun companion for babies during bath time, this toy may contain DEHP.  A laboratory test commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition found a vinyl rubber duck laced with 18.87% DEHP, way above the 0.1% limit.

VII. Toy Fashion Nail Set.  The adhesive used to attach these artificial nails contains Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), which is listed among the substances that must not form part of cosmetic products under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  According to a health warning by the FDA, “DBP has the ability to cause allergic reactions, (which) can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system.”

VIII. Dian Sheng Eatena Puzzle Cube.  This Rubik’s Cube-like toy tested positive for toxic flame retardant chemicals OctaBDE and DecaBDE, which are commonly found in the plastic casings of cathode ray tube TVs and computer monitors.   Based on tests conducted at the Czech Republic in 2015, this China-made toy purchased in the Philippines contains 108 ppm of OctaBDE and 293 ppm of DecaBDE, which are chemicals know to disrupt human hormone systems, affecting the brain and the central nervous system. 

IX. Police Cool SUV.  Sold on the sidewalk for P20, this plastic toy car contains 1,380 ppm of bromine, an indicator that the material may contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) from recycled e-waste plastics. PBDEs are targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

X. Battle Swords.  These toy weapons measuring 25 to 30 inches long have the potential to cause blunt force injuries to the eyes, face and body due to the plastic blade, especially when played without adult supervision.

“We hope consumers will heed our call for toy safety.  All children deserve nothing less than safe toys that are well-designed, durable, age-appropriate, and non toxic,” Dizon emphasized.


07 December 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Urges the Public to Cut Down on Holiday Trash (Holitrash) with 3Rs and More

With Christmas rapidly approaching, a waste and pollution watch group today drew attention to what each and every person or household can do to lessen what it calls the enormous holiday trash or “holitrash.”

At an event held at the Quirino Elementary School (QES) in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that the tons of “holitrash,” if not kept in check, would end up being disposed of in streets, waterways, dumpsites, incinerators, or in the oceans, which are already choking with plastics and trash.   The group chose “Christmasaya kapag walang aksaya” as the perfect theme for the occasion.

“The volume of waste produced is expected to soar as people shop, party, dine and have fun during the joyful season.  Sad to say, the throwaway culture is at its worst as the birth of the Redeemer is recalled and celebrated.  In Metro Manila, for instance, per capita waste generation during Christmastime is estimated to rise from 0.7 kilo to 1.2 kilo,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

The most discarded items during the extended celebration of Christmas and New Year include paper and plastic shopping bags; all sorts of packaging materials; party wares, including single-use paper and plastic beverage and food containers; bags, boxes and wrappers for gifts; and tons of food waste, according to the group.

“The humongous ‘holitrash’ situation is aggravated by the poor segregation of discards at source, and the toxic byproduct waste from the lighting of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices,” he added.

“But the situation is not entirely hopeless.  We can curb what we throw away by applying the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and by keeping Christ in the manger, an utmost reminder of the simplicity of Christmas, at the heart of the festive celebration,” he pointed out.

QES students, applying the 3Rs, flaunted a creatively made lantern adorned with used spoons and bottle lids, a Belen made of juice packs, and a Christmas tree from PET bottles.

The EcoWaste Coalition also showed assorted Christmas decorations fashioned out of typical household discards such as snack packs, soda cans, textile scraps, fabric conditioner containers, plastic bottles, etc.   
To further reduce the generation of garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded holiday shoppers to bring a stash of reusable bags and containers and to shun both paper and plastic bags to cut on bag waste. 

Gift givers can opt not to wrap Christmas presents to minimize the use of wrappers.  If wrapping is desired, reuse old bandannas, handkerchiefs, fabric remnants, jars, shoe boxes, newspapers and magazines, the group suggested. 

The group reminded those hosting or organizing Christmas parties to opt for washable and reusable tableware and party supplies in lieu of disposable ones, which may be “convenient,” but certainly wasteful.

As garbage is produced by putting discards together in one bin, the group stressed the need to keep discards properly segregated to facilitate their reusing, recycling or composting.

Non-biodegradable discards such as aluminum and tin cans, glass and plastic bottles, and other materials can be repurposed, reused or recycled, while biodegradable discards such as food waste can be fed to animals or turned into compost to enrich the soil, the group said.

The group emphasized that the open burning discards is not only unlawful but also detrimental to human health and the environment.  Open burning can lead to the formation and release of persistent organic pollutants and greenhouse gases that cause environmental pollution, global warming and climate change.

Finally, the group urged the public to opt for a quieter celebration without firecrackers and fireworks to prevent the generation of toxic smoke and waste, noting that firecracker and pyrotechnic residues are laden with hazardous chemicals and cannot be recycled.