30 January 2018

Toxics Watch Group Cites FDA for Banning Dangerous School Supplies

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit group promoting chemical safety, gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a thumbs up for the latter’s action to rid the market of toxic school supplies.

The group cited the series of advisories issued by the FDA against the purchase and use of art materials laden with dangerous chemicals such as mercury, lead and cadmium.

At the same time, the group urged the agency to issue notice of violation against erring stores after being able to purchase some of the banned products from legitimate retail establishments notwithstanding the public health warnings issued by the FDA.

In test buys conducted on January 28 and 29, 2018, the EcoWaste Coalition managed to procure banned Artex, MPC Classique and Xiao Yiren water color sets, Fairyland crayons, and Leeho glitter fabric paint pen from dealers of school supplies in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sampaloc, Manila.

“The public health warnings issued by the FDA on school supplies laced with hazardous substances above permissible levels are crucial tools that can inform and guide consumers in making sound and safe buying decisions,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“FDA’s action to take lead-containing art materials off store shelves, in particular, promotes industry compliance to DENR’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits lead in the production of school supplies,” he pointed out.

Since 2014, the FDA has banned three brands of water colors, two brands of crayons, a brand of pencil and a brand of fabric paint pen, some of which are marked with the “non-toxic” claim on the packaging.

Last week on January 24, the FDA banned “12 in 1 Pencil,” “Fairyland 16 Crayons,” and “Leeho Glitter Fabric Paint Pens” for containing unacceptable levels of heavy metals, including cadmium, lead and mercury.

Last year, the FDA banned “MPC Classique Water Colors,” “Xiao Yiren Water Colors” and “Ultra Colours Jumbo Crayons” after laboratory analyses confirmed lead content above the maximum allowable limit of 90 ppm.

In 2014, the FDA, after being alerted by the EcoWaste Coalition, banned “Artex Fine Water Colors” for containing lead up to 5,089 ppm.

According to Dizon, “the advisories are extremely useful as the names of the products that have been verified to contain violative levels of prohibited or restricted chemical substances are specifically named with matching photographs.” 

“The advisories provide helpful information about the health effects of the chemical substances in question and the consequences of exposure,” he added.

“The advisories also direct commercial establishments not to distribute the non-compliant products, and request local government units and law enforcement agencies to ensure that such products are not sold in their areas of jurisdiction,” he said.

To ensure the advisories are strictly enforced and that the banned products are duly withdrawn from the market, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the FDA go after non-compliant wholesale and retail stores.

The group also exhorted local government and police authorities, consumer protection groups and other sectors to actively back FDA's efforts to crack down on violators.



29 January 2018

DoE Put to Task for Unused Mercury Lamp Waste Facility (Group Tells DoE: Don’t Allow $1.37M Mercury Lamp Waste Facility to Turn Into a White Elephant)

A waste and pollution watch group today urged Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to prevent a multi-million peso mercury lamp waste recycling project of his department from turning into a white elephant.

In an e-mail sent today, the non-profit EcoWaste Coalition expressed serious concern over the non-operation of the lamp waste recycling facility equipped with mercury recovery that the Department of Energy (DoE) procured in 2013.

Procured for US$1.37 million as part of the Asian Development Bank-funded Philippine Energy Efficiency Project, DoE successfully operated the Swedish-supplied equipment during the pilot phase in 2013-2014.  It has yet to find a public or private entity to operate the facility on a full-scale.

DoE, according to the project description, “aims to provide a facility where all spent mercury-containing lamps shall undergo recycling to recover mercury and other by-products (to) avert residual mercury from entering the food chain through landfill leaching into groundwater.”

The recycling facility has the capacity to treat six million lamps per year for 8-hour daily operations, retrieving 88% glass, 5% metals, 3% powders with rare earth, 0.005% mercury and 4% other materials (including resinous materials). 

The group asked Cusi to convene an emergency multistakeholders meeting to address the barriers to the facility’s full operation.

“We urge your office to seriously look into this matter, and ensure that the facility will not become a white elephant while the problem with the unsafe disposal of mercury lamp waste in the country persists,” read the group’s e-mail to Cusi, which was endorsed by over 80 environmentalists.

“The facility has been idle for years while the arbitrary disposal of busted mercury lamps continues unabated,” noted Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The lack of a sufficient program to safely manage mercury lamp waste from collection, storage, recycling to disposal is a serious environmental and health challenge that must be resolved,” he emphasized.

“Improper disposal of spent fluorescent lamps such as by dumping or burning can result in mercury spilling out of their glass tube, contaminating the surroundings with mercury and endangering waste workers, the general public and the wildlife,” he explained.

“When products containing mercury are disposed of and broken or burned and the mercury escapes from them, the mercury begins to circulate in the biosphere,”  said the United Nations Environment (formerly called the United Nations Environment Programme).

Among the common sources of mercury in the municipal solid waste include mercury-containing batteries, light bulbs, electrical and electronic equipment, skin whitening cosmetics, and dental amalgam fillings. 

According to the EcoWaste Coalition’s photo investigative report entitled “The Toxic Silence of the Lamps,” the haphazard disposal of mercury-containing lamp waste is widespread in Metro Manila’s 17 local government units    

According to the report, “the indiscriminate disposal of busted or spent fluorescent lamps as common trash is not only polluting the surroundings but is also exposing waste handlers, informal recyclers and the public to mercury, a potent neurotoxin, which can lead to acute and chronic intoxication even at low  levels of exposure.”

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, which the Philippines has yet to ratify despite signing it in 2013, provides for, among other targets, the phase-out by 2020 of compact fluorescent lamps equal to or less than 30 watts containing more than 5 mg mercury per bulb.  Other types of mercury-containing lamps are also subject to the same phase-out period.



herfiles/0000/0157/Day_1_Session_4.1_EPR_and_lamp_recycling_ Raquel_Huliganga.pdf
https://sites.google.com/site/ thetoxicsilenceofthelamps/
http://www.mercuryconvention.o rg/

27 January 2018

Filipinos Tell PM Trudeau Anew: Keep Your Promise, Take Back Your Garbage Now

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has received another letter from Filipinos who are anxious to get the reeking Canadian garbage out of Philippine soil.
The letter was signed by over 100 Filipinos attending a Zero Waste conference organized by the EcoWaste Coalition in observance of the 17th anniversary today of the country’s Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.  It was sent yesterday via e-mail to justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

“We remain hopeful you will keep your promise and that environmental justice will at long last reign supreme,” they told Trudeau.

It will be recalled that Trudeau during his second visit to the Philippines last November for the 31St ASEAN Summit assured President Rodrigo Duterte that Canada is working on a solution to the garbage dumping controversy.

At a press conference on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, Trudeau stated that “it is now theoretically possible to take (the garbage) back,” adding that legal barriers and restrictions have already been dealt with.

Soon after Trudeau left Manila, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority on November 24 sounded off the urgency to remove the trash-filled containers from Subic port as the stench has become “unbearable” and posed “health hazards.”

On December 4, no less than Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III himself proposed a legislative inquiry “to determine whether there are sufficient laws restricting the indiscriminate entry and dumping of solid waste and other forms of harmful trash into the Philippines,” citing “the monumental consequences of allowing Canadian garbage to remain in the country.”

“As you can see, the garbage dumping scandal continues to rage and nothing could bridle the anger and frustration of Filipinos until the illegal trash shipments are finally shipped back to Canada for environmentally-sound disposal,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“We ask PM Trudeau to expedite the re-importation of their garbage, settle all necessary obligations and put the festering dumping scandal to rest,” she added.   

One hundred three shipping containers of garbage described as scrap plastics for recycling were sent to the Philippines in 2013-2014 by private Canadian companies.

Sixty four percent of the shipments were “bailed municipal solid waste or garbage destined for immediate local disposal and cannot be recycled” as per waste analysis and characterization study in 2014 by the Department on Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

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

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

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

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


26 January 2018

Environmental Health Groups Vow to Pursue Zero Waste, Stop Incineration (Zero Waste programs could beat the ‘Basura Monster’ that is dirtying and tormenting the nation, groups say)

As the Zero Waste Month comes to a close, environmental health groups affirmed their unity and their commitment to engage other sectors to promote and uphold non-incineration, Zero Waste strategy for solving the country’s garbage woes. 

At a conference today commemorating the 17th anniversary of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the EcoWaste Coalition and other partner groups of No Burn Pilipinas recapped the all-embracing benefits of enforcing the groundbreaking waste and pollution law that complements and buttresses the incineration ban under Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act.  

R.A. 9003 requires the “adoption of best environmental practices in ecological solid waste management, excluding incineration.” It was signed by former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on January 26, 2001 following the deadly Payatas garbage slide.

“There is a growing scheme to burn waste as a disposal method calling it ‘waste-to-energy’ to distract people from becoming aware that such a method is a violation of R.A. 8749 and R.A. 9003.  Local governments are being made to believe that it is the immediate solution to the continuing increase in solid waste in their localities ---  the price of not implementing RA 9003,” said keynote speaker Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Instead of rescinding the incineration ban under R.A. 8749 and R.A. 9003 and opening the floodgates for incineration technologies, Sison and fellow environmental health activists firmly urged Congress, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Solid Waste Management Commission and local authorities to uphold  the ban and spread the Zero Waste philosophy and programs across all sectors.

Waste segregation at source, recycling and composting, the prohibition on non-environmentally acceptable packaging and products, the adoption of a coding system for packaging materials and products to facilitate their reuse and recycling, extended producer responsibility, clean production, and the promotion of sustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles are essential Zero Waste programs that could beat the  “Basura Monster” that is dirtying and tormenting the nation as garbage generation reaches over 40,000 tons per day.

To bring the Zero Waste goal to fruition, “we need to interact not only among ourselves as consumers but also with national and local governments and with industries and distribution chains,” Sison pointed out.

Zero Waste solution, according to the groups:

1. MITIGATES CLIMATE CHANGE: Zero waste practices conserve finite resources and prevent fossil fuel extractions to produce virgin materials.  It’s the fastest, cheapest and most effective strategy we can use to protect the climate.

2. CREATES JOBS AND SAVES MONEY:  Recycling and composting create 10 – 20 times as many jobs as incinerators for a fraction of incinerator capital costs.

3. IMPROVES PUBLIC HEALTH.  Waste reduction and recycling help improve overall health by decreasing exposure to hazardous materials and preventing pollutants associated with landfilling and incineration from contaminating the environment.

On the other hand, waste incineration, the groups warned:

1. WORSENS CLIMATE CHANGE: Incinerators emit more carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour than coal-fired power plants.

2. HURTS RECYCLING: Incinerators burn valuable resources that can be recycled and composted, and incinerators compete for the same materials as recycling programs.

3. HARMS COMMUNITIES:  Heavy metals, organic and inorganic pollutants and other toxins released by incinerators pose increased risk of cancer, neurological and developmental disorders to humans as well as damage the environment in the neighboring communities and beyond.

Among those clamoring for the incineration ban to be upheld and protected include Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Green Convergence, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Zero Waste Philippines, Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines and many others.

Cebu and Davao groups, including the Interface Development Interventions, Philippine Earth Justice Center and the Sustainable Davao Movement, have also expressed their opposition to waste-to-energy incinerators being proposed in their areas.


24 January 2018

Green Group Pushes for Ecological Waste Management to Fight Dengue, Save Lives

As the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy rages, the EcoWaste Coalition today urged the nation’s local government units (LGUs) to enhance the enforcement of Republic Act 9003 to keep dengue-causing mosquitoes away and save children's lives.

Also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, R.A. 9003 provides the legal framework for systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program that will ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

The law, which marks its 17th anniversary on January 26, provides for essential waste prevention and reduction strategies, including waste segregation at source, reusing, recycling and composting for cleaner and healthier communities.

“Our LGUs, particularly the barangays, have a special role to play in keeping our communities dengue-free by ensuring that discards do not collect water and serve as breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Indiscriminately disposed of beverage and food containers, used tires, and even garbage bins can hold water where these dreaded mosquitoes can lay eggs,” he warned.

“The Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee, together with the Barangay Health Committee, should take the initiative to search and destroy mosquito breeding places in the neighborhood,” he said.

Local chief executives and their environmental and health officers should support barangay-led efforts to promote and carry out ecological solid waste management as a proactive defense against dengue, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that “applying many of the basic principles (of solid waste management) can contribute substantially to reducing Aedes aegypti larval habitats,” adding that “the basic rule of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is highly applicable.”

“Proper storage, collection and disposal of waste are essential for protecting public health,” the WHO pointed out.

According to the WHO, “efforts to reduce solid waste should be directed against discarded or non-essential containers, particularly if they have been identified in the community as important mosquito-producing containers.”

Aside from depriving Aedes aegypti mosquitoes places to breed, the enforcement of R.A. 9003, the EcoWaste Coalition said, will bring huge benefits to overall community health, environment and economy.

“R.A. 9003’s implementation will further reduce the volume and toxicity of garbage, cut hauling costs, control environmental pollution, conserve resources, prevent spillage of plastic litter to the oceans, and create sustainable jobs and livelihoods for local communities,” the group said.




21 January 2018

Some Santo Niño Images Still Decorated with Lead Paint – EcoWaste Coalition

 “Welcome Santo Niño” with high lead content.
  Santo Niño statuettes with varying lead levels above 90 ppm.  
Santo Niño statuettes with no detectable lead content.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit waste and pollution watch group,  today  bared that lead paint is still used in some Santo Niño statuettes despite a ban on lead-containing decorative paints in effect.

The group made this revelation after procuring and analyzing painted statuettes of the Holy Child for P50-P200 each from religious craft retailers outside the Quiapo and Tondo Churches in Manila.

The statuettes were screened for lead, a toxic chemical, using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

Lead in paint was detected in five of the 10 samples of Santo Niño statuettes in the range of 252 to 3,944 parts per million (ppm) in violation of the maximum allowable limit of 90 ppm.

The green paint on a five-inch green “Welcome Santo Niño” had 3,944 ppm lead.

Lead was not detected in the other five statuettes indicating the availability of paints without lead for decorative applications.

“We appeal to religious craft makers to ensure that only lead safe paints are used for religious statues and figurines in keeping with the law that seeks to protect human health and the environment against the toxic effects of lead,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.  “Religious devotion need not be associated with a chemical poison.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, also known as the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, bans lead in paint above 90 ppm and provides for a three-year phase-out from 2013 to 2016 of lead-containing architectural, household and decorative (AHD) paints.   

Religious craft makers should have no problem finding compliant paints as many paint manufacturers have already removed lead ingredients in their formulations, especially for the AHD paint category, the group insisted.

“As the Feast of the Santo Niño is celebrated today, we urge religious craft businesses to commit to producing and selling only lead-free items that are guaranteed safe for the faithful, especially the children, to kiss and touch,” he added.

The group warned “the customary practice of Filipino Catholics to touch or kiss revered icons or to wipe them with handkerchiefs or towels may cause their paint coatings to deteriorate and come off over time, creating lead chip or dust that children may ingest or inhale.”

The EcoWaste Coalition in 2014 notified  Catholic church leaders Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Archbishop Socrates Villegas about the problem with lead painted religious items.  The group particularly cited a six-inch statuette of St. John Paul II with dangerous lead content amounting to 113,200 ppm as per laboratory analysis as a case in point.

While lead exposure is harmful to all, lead exposure harms children, especially those aged six years and under, at much lower amounts, causing damage to the brain that is generally untreatable by  modern medicine and can have a lifelong impact, the group said.  

Health and toxicological experts have determined no acceptable level of lead exposure for children, making it crucial to get rid of all preventable sources of lead pollution.  

The World Health Organization has identified lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”



14 January 2018

Pandacan and Tondo Folks Urged to Go Easy on Wasteful Plastic Banderitas

Pandacan, Manila
Pandacan, Manila
Tondo, Manila
Tondo, Manila
Tondo, Manila
Pandacan, Manila

As the popular feast of the Santo Niño is celebrated in Pandacan today and in Tondo next Sunday, a waste and pollution watch group appealed to barangay leaders and residents to minimize, if not eliminate, the unbridled use of wasteful fiesta garlands.

Commonly known as “banderitas” or “lastay,” the fiesta buntings have become an environmental nuisance with the thoughtless use of new single use plastic bags and other disposable plastics that only add to the fiesta garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

The group’s Basura Patrollers yesterday visited the Pandacan and Tondo districts and were again appalled to witness the out-of-control use of plastic bags and other disposable buntings to decorate streets and alleys.

“We are disappointed with the wild use of plastic buntings in Pandacan and Tondo as if the city of Manila is not facing any garbage problem.  The fiesta buntings are like litter in the sky that will surely end up being hauled to the Vitas Marine Loading Station in Tondo for final disposal at the Navotas landfill,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It’s only few days after Manila’s Department of Public Services collected 75 truckloads of trash (approximately 385 tons) during the recently held feast of the Black Nazarene, and the city’s waste and sanitation personnel are already bracing for another fiesta-related garbage challenge,” he added.

The group has insisted that fiesta banderitas have no aesthetic, functional or spiritual value and contribute nothing but residual garbage that could even contaminate the oceans and harm aquatic life.     

The super light plastic bags are very problematic as these are easily blown away to canals and esteros and into the Pasig River and Manila Bay, contributing to the worsening marine litter, the group said.

“Do we really believe plastic bag banderitas add color, joy and meaning to the celebration of the feast of the Holy Child?,” Alejandre asked.

“It’s high time that we put a cap on non-essential uses of plastics such as the wild use of plastic bags as fiesta buntings,” he emphasized. 

With the global plastics crisis worsening, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the churches, local authorities and communities to switch to zero waste celebrations and rally behind the enforcement of stringent policies to prevent and reduce plastic garbage such as Manila City Ordinance 8282.

It cited the resolution adopted by the United Nations Environment Assembly last December 2017 calling for accelerated action and strengthened partnerships to combat the spread of marine plastic litter and microplastics.


10 January 2018

Trash Taints "Generally Peaceful" Traslacion (Trash-less Feast of the Black Nazarene Remains an Elusive Dream - Environmental Watch Group)

“Magpasalamat, hindi magkalat.”

The waste and pollution watch group EcoWaste Coalition made this remark as it bewailed the widespread littering that again tainted the 22-hour mammoth procession in reverence for the Black Nazarene.

“We are deeply saddened by the sight of garbage in Rizal Park where the procession of the venerated image began following an all-night vigil, and along the processional route,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“The lack of environmental concern has again stained the awe-inspiring expression of faith and trust in the Black Nazarene that devotees ask for help to solve personal or family issues, including health and financial troubles that could have been caused or worsened by a degraded and polluted environment,” he added. 

“Our plea for a trash-less Traslacion remains an elusive dream,” he lamented. “We hope devotees will heed our appeal for waste prevention and reduction next year.”

At the Rizal Park, the devotees left a huge mess for government workers and for church and school volunteers to clean up, observed Alejandre.

Some of the photos taken by the group’s Basura Patrollers at Rizal Park and Quiapo can be seen here:
Rizal Park:


At the open area fronting the Quirino Grandstand, the group’s Basura Patrollers saw heaps of garbage consisting of corrugated boxes, foils, newspapers and plastics used as sleeping mats; food and beverage packaging such as 3-in-1 coffee sachets, cup noodles, paper and plastic cups and polystyrene containers; food leftovers; plastic bags; and cigarette butts.  

“The overnight vigil was a good opportunity for families to bond together and for the children to get to know the Black Nazarene.  Unfortunately, many simply dumped their discards at the very spot where they spent the night,” Alejandre said.

While portable toilets were available for free use by the public, some devotees chose to urinate in the open, or pee in pet bottles.

The group also assailed the sale and use of cigarettes inside the Rizal Park, which is a “no smoking zone.”  
As reported by the group’s Basura Patrollers, the streets of Quiapo were teeming not only with people, but also with garbage, including discarded plastic bags  and polystyrene food containers that are supposedly restricted under Manila City Ordinance 8282.

Plastic bottles and polystyrene food containers, including those given by big-hearted individuals, were left lying in sidewalks and street gutters.

Meanwhile, the group thanked the waste pickers who patiently retrieved recyclable items left by the devotees such as PET bottles (except those with urine), corrugated boards and others that can be sold to junk shops.   The retrieval of recyclables reduces the volume of waste and prevent valuable resources from being hauled to the dump.  

It likewise lauded the hundreds of waste and sanitation workers from national and local government agencies, as well as the Green Brigade volunteers of Quiapo Church from various parishes and schools, for picking up the garbage left by devotees and vendors alike.


09 January 2018

Not a Trash-less Traslacion: The Trashing of Quiapo

The following photos were taken in Quiapo, Manila on 9 January 2018 between 4:00 - 6:00 pm.

Not a Trash-less Traslacion: The Trashing of Luneta

The above photos were taken on 9 January 2018, between 6:00-7:30 am, at the start of the Traslacion of the Black Nazarene in Rizal Park, Manila.