28 November 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Keeps Up the Pressure, Urges BOC to Rush the Re-Shipment of Illegal Garbage Imports Following South Korean Government’s Pronouncement to Take Their Garbage Back

The environmental health and justice group EcoWaste Coalition today picketed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Port Area, Manila to press for the rapid return of the dumped Korean garbage to its origin.

The group’s latest protest action came hard on the heels of a statement by the government of South Korea confirming “it would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible.”

“In line with the expression ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ we call upon the BOC to act with urgency, rush the removal of the dumped wastes in Misamis Oriental, and send them back where they belong,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope the Korean garbage will be out of our territory before Christmas and not beyond December 31, 2018.  Huwag na po sanang patagalin pa,” she added. 

“BOC’s rapid action will send a clear and unequivocal signal to waste traffickers that the Philippines  is taking strong action against illegal waste export  to protect public health and the environment, and uphold the national dignity and sovereignty,” she emphasized.

To dramatize their demand for action against waste trafficking, the protestors carried a ship replica topped with mixed garbage and wielded placards in English and Korean urging the authorities to expedite the return of the controversial garbage shipments that originated from Pyeongtaek City. 

Through a letter submitted to the Office of Commissioner Rey Guerrero, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the BOC to:

1.  Expedite the process of re-shipping the Korean garbage to its origin as a topmost priority.
2.  Hold customs officers liable for the uploading of the Korean garbage even without importation clearance.
3.  Blacklist the shipper and charge the consignee for the illegal entry of the Korean garbage.

The above action points are pursuant to the state policies to “protect and promote the right to health of the people” and “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology,”  and in line with BOC’s mandate to prevent and suppress the smuggling and entry of prohibited imported goods, the group said. 

Last week, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea through a press release announced that “the Ministry of Environment on November 21 initiated legal procedure to have the wastes in question in the Philippines be brought back in accordance with Article 20 of the Law on Cross-border movement and Disposal of Wastes—Prior Notice of Repatriation Order—and embarked on investigation of the violation of Article 18-2 of the said law—False Export Declaration.”

The Korean Embassy also reported that a joint inspection by the Korean Customs Service and the Ministry of Environment and Customs Service of the exporter’s business site and warehouse in Pyeongtaek City found plastic garbage waiting to be shipped mixed with large amount of waste wood, metal and residuals that have not gone through appropriate recycling process, corroborating the initial findings by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) .  

According to BOC-Region 10, some 6,500 tons of Korean garbage misdeclared as “plastic synthetic flakes” arrived on July 21, 2018 at the port of the Philippine Sinter Corporation in Villanueva, and on October 20, 2018 at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan.

The shipments consigned to Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. arrived with no prior importation clearance from DENR and were found to contain bales of plastic waste with hazardous materials such as used dextrose tubes, diapers, batteries, bulbs and electronic equipment and thus considered illegal.  

This latest garbage dumping incident, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, is a brazen violation of the country’s customs and environmental laws and regulations, namely, Republic Act 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act), Customs Memorandum Circular 44-2015 (“No Importation Clearance, No Unloading Policy”), Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act), and Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act).

The EcoWaste Coalition stressed that no disposal of foreign garbage in local dumps or landfills should be allowed by BOC’s leadership.  

The group recalled that in July 2015, 26 of the 103 garbage-filled container vans from Canada were secretly buried in a private landfill in Tarlac City at the request of the BOC, drawing broad condemnation from local and national politicians, civil society groups and citizens.


22 November 2018

"Made in Davao City" Mercury-Laced Skin Whitener Sold Online in Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia/Quezon City, Philippines.  Two environmental health organizations have alerted consumers against buying a mercury-laden skin whitening product allegedly made in the Philippines and sold at popular online shopping sites in Indonesia.

Through a joint press statement, Balifokus (based in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia) and the EcoWaste Coalition (based in Quezon City, Philippines) warned that “RDL Whitening Treatment Day and Night Cream” sold at www.bukalapak.com and www.tokopedia.com contains mercury above the 1 part per million (ppm) limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

The product’s orange and white box contains a pair of day and night cream and is sold online for Rp 12,500 to Rp 55,000 per pack.

“This is hazardous to health  because it contains mercury as a skin lightening substance.  Bukalapak and Tokopedia should take down all ads for this dangerous product at once to protect consumers from being duped and harmed.  The National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) should ban this product from being sold in Indonesia,” said Krishna Bayumutri Zaki, Toxics Program Manager, Balifokus.

“Considering the lack of enforcement in Indonesia of regulations banning the online sale of dangerous or illegal products,  Bukalapak, Tokopedia and other e-commerce platforms should conduct a strict filtering of such products being sold by third-party sellers to safeguard online shoppers,” he added.

“We have duly alerted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the online sale of this product in Indonesia that is purportedly made in Davao City.  Our health and customs authorities should act decisively to stop the proliferation of this product that poses mercury exposure risk, especially to Indonesian women,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Mercury was detected on the two samples of “RDL Whitening Treatment Day and Night Cream” bought online by Balifokus and subsequently analyzed by the EcoWaste Coalition using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.   The night cream, in particular, was found to contain 3,149 ppm and 3,615 ppm of mercury, way above the 1 ppm threshold limit.

According to the World Health Organization, “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.” WHO has warned that “mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”

As written on the product label, “RDL Whitening Treatment Day and Night Cream” is manufactured in Davao City, Philippines by “RDL Cosmetic Laboratory, Inc..”  

“RDL Cosmetic Laboratory, Inc.” is not to be confused with “RDL Pharmaceutical Laboratory, Inc.,” a legitimate company that has valid notifications for a number of cosmetic products sold in the market as confirmed by the FDA with the EcoWaste Coalition.

The FDA Center for Cosmetics Regulation and Research (CCRR) has told the EcoWaste Coalition that the product in question has no existing or valid product notification, nor a pending application for notification with the FDA.  





Mandalawangi 5,Jln. Tukad Tegalwangi, Sesetan, Denpasar 80223,Bali, Indonesia
Phone: +62-361-233520  Fax: +62-361-233520 E-Mail: balifokus@balifokus.asia
Website: https://www.balifokus.asia/

Unit 336, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1100 Quezon City, Philippines
Phone/Fax: +632-4411846  E-Mail: info@ecowastecoalition.org
Website: http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

Environmental Health and Justice Group Lauds Korean Government for its Action vs Illegal Garbage Shipments to the Philippines

After its protest action outside the Korean Embassy in Taguig City last November 15, the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental  health and justice group, today  cheered the Korean government for confirming its commitment to take back the illegal garbage shipments languishing in Misamis Oriental.    

The “Embassy of the Republic of Korea would like to inform you the government has taken action on the recent controversy of waste imported  to the Philippines,” said the Embassy through an e-mail sent today to the EcoWaste Coalition.  

According to the press release posted at the Embassy website (http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_20312/view.do?seq=14), the Korean government “would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible.”

South Korea’s government swift action drew immediate cheers from the EcoWaste Coalition, which last November 15 picketed the Embassy unveiling a banner that says “Please take your garbage back” in English and Korean.  Dubbed as K-BOP (Korea: Basura Out of the Philippines) action, the protest attracted wide media coverage in the Philippines as well as in Korea.

“We commend the swift action taken by the Korean government to get this dumping controversy resolved without delay.  This early, we say ‘kamsa hamnida’ to Korea for doing the right thing and for respecting our nation’s right not to be treated as Korea’s waste bin,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“We laud the rapid probe conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Korea Customs Service, which further confirmed the illegal nature of the controversial garbage shipments and the need to get them repatriated to Korea straight away,” she added.

“We will maintain our vigilance until the last ton of garbage is sent back to Korea, until the culprits are charged and held liable, and until environmental justice reign,” Lucero pointed out.

This welcomed development drew quick comparison between Korea’s and Canada’s response to the foreign garbage dumping incidents that hit the Philippines.

“We could not help but compare Korea’s speedy and decisive response to the dumping issue, and Canada’s unhurried and irresolute response.  In fact, Canada’s unwanted wastes, which entered the country illegally in 2013, are still sitting in our ports,” Lucero said.

Below is the complete press release from the Government of Korea regarding this matter:

The imported waste to the Philippines to be brought back to Korea

The Government of the Republic of Korea—the Ministry of Environment, the Korea Customs Service, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—has embarked on the investigation of a Korean exporter which caused a controversy in the Philippines this month; the Government stated that it would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible.

As the Bureau of Customs of the Philippines uncovered last July illegal plastic wastes which was exported from Korea, Korea’s Ministry of Environment and the Customs Service jointly inspected the exporter of the wastes in question, located in Pyeongtaek City, on November 16. The exporter in question made export declaration on waste synthetic highly polymerized compound in January 2018.

The joint inspection of the exporter’s business site found plastic wastes mixed with significant amount of alien materials such as waste wood/metals and trashes which had not gone through an appropriate recycling process.

As the joint inspection team opened the exporter’s container in the nearby warehouse, waiting to be shipped, wastes in the same condition—mixed with large amount of alien materials—as the one found in the aforementioned business site were discovered.

Since the Ministry of Environment and the Korea Customs Service confirmed that the exporter had exported wastes which had not gone through proper recycling process and were different from it declared in its export declaration and that documents required for export was forged, they have taken measures against related violations of law.

The Ministry of Environment on November 21 initiated legal procedure to have the wastes in question in the Philippines be brought back in accordance with Article 20 of the Law on Cross-border movement and Disposal of Wastes—Prior Notice of Repatriation Order—and embarked on investigation of the violation of Article 18-2 of the said law—False Export Declaration.

The Korea Customs Service is investigating the exporter in question for the possibility of its exporting of wastes with illegitimately prepared export documentation. The Customs Service also took a step to forbid the shipment of goods in question waiting to be shipped.

Relevant authorities of Korea will have the wastes in question be repatriated and properly disposed and work to prevent recurrence of the problem.


20 November 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Promotes Children’s Right to Safe Toys ahead of the Christmas Shopping Spree (“Every child deserves a safe toy: Make it happen.”)

With the Christmas holiday season upon us, the EcoWaste Coalition wasted no time reminding consumers to ensure that children must only be given toys that will not expose them to harm.

At an event held at San Vicente Elementary School in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized society’s responsibility to provide safe toys that can help a child to discover and enhance her or his potentials to the fullest.

The event, which has the theme “Every child deserves a safe toy: Make it happen,” coincided with the celebration of the Universal Children’s Day on November 20 --- the day when the UN General Assembly adopted the “Declaration of the Rights of the Child” in 1959 as well as the “Convention on the Rights of the Child” in 1989.

“The market is flooded with cheap and unregistered toys whose quality, safety and suitability cannot be guaranteed.  Under this situation, consumers, particularly parents, will have a huge responsibility to play in terms of picking the right toy for children that will not pose harm to their young bodies and minds,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dizon cited the findings of its recent study in collaboration with IPEN Chemicals in Products Program indicating the presence of lead and other toxic metals in 32 out of 100 sampled toys (32%).  None of the samples, including a fidget spinner with 198,900 ppm of lead, provided a list of chemicals that make up a toy nor provided text or graphic warnings.

The study further revealed that the country’s toy registration and labeling requirements are not effectively enforced as evidenced by 77% of the samples providing zero information about their manufacturers and/or distributors, 75% not indicating License to Operate (LTO) number on the product label, and 75% failing to meet other required labeling information on the packaging.

In addition to toxic chemicals lurking in toys, Dizon also pointed to other hazards that may be present in some toys.  Toys with small parts may be ingested causing choking, or, in some instances, get pushed into the nostrils or ears.  Toys with pointed or sharp edges may injure the eyes or cut the skin.  Toys with cords longer than 12 inches may cause strangulation.  There are also toys with the potential to cause blunt force injury or trauma.

Consumer rights advocate Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President of Laban Konsyumer Inc. stressed the importance of ensuring that toys are adequately and truthfully labeled.  He said: “The provision of complete and honest labeling information will help consumers in making an informed choice on what toy to buy for a child.  I cannot overstress the importance of product labeling information, which is an indispensable tool for making the right purchasing decision.”

Dimagiba also underlined the urgency of enforcing Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013, emphasizing that the over-delay in the promulgation of the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations “is not serving the best interests of the Filipino child and is only benefiting the toy industry.”

Dr. Erle Castillo, a toxicologist at Medical Center Manila, cautioned parents against buying toys that have not passed through the quality and assessment verification of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the government health agency in charge of regulating toys.

“Some toys may contain undisclosed chemical ingredients such as lead that can interfere with the growth and development of a child,” Castillo, a member of the Philippine Society on Clinical and Occupational Toxicoloy (PSCOT), said.  He explained that chronic exposure to lead even at low doses can affect a child’s health over time, damage brain development and result to decreased intelligence as measured by IQ points, lower school performance, and behavioral problems.

The toy safety event concluded with the EcoWaste Coalition drawing parents’ and children’s attention to the following tips for choosing safe toys this holiday season:

1.  Carefully read the product label and refrain from buying unlabeled and unregistered toys.
2.  Choose toys that are suited to a child's age, ability and behavior.
3.  Watch out for toys that may cause injury or pose burn, chemical, choking, laceration, strangulation and other safety hazards.
4.  Shun toys that have small parts such as button batteries and magnets that can be pulled off and get swallowed by a child.
5.  Steer clear of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic toys that may contain banned phthalates and other hazardous substances such as cadmium and lead.
6.  Refrain from picking toys that have a strong chemical or perfumed smell.
7.  Avoid painted toys unless labeled as certified lead-safe.
8.  Avoid face paints unless guaranteed free of toxic metals and other cosmetic contaminants.


Cebu NGOs Join Clamor for Fast Removal of South Korean Garbage in Misamis Oriental ("We are not the garbage capital of the world.")

Environmental, labor, community and youth activists based in Cebu Province have joined growing public clamor for the immediate return to South Korea of mixed garbage imports that were wrongly declared as “plastic synthetic flakes.”

The over 5,000 tons of plastic garbage mixed with hazardous materials from South Korea have been sitting at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental since July 21, 2018, and are now the subject of a government investigation, as well as protest from various quarters.  

This case of foreign waste dumping in Northern Mindanao is reminiscent of the 2017 South Korean garbage dumping scandal in Mandaue City, the activists noted.  

At the sidelines of an environmental conference held yesterday at the University of Cebu Banilad,  65 participants unveiled a banner that says “please take your garbage back” as they shouted “Ang Pilipinas dili dumpsite alang sa Korean nga basura” (Philippines is not a dumpsite for Korean trash).

“We join the entire nation in demanding for the quick re-export of the Korean garbage back to its origin.  As one people, let us tell rich countries that we are not the garbage capital of the world,” said Fernan Rabago of the Gagmayng Kristohanong Katilingban Homeowners Association.

“Governments of countries exporting their rubbish to the Philippines under the cover of plastic recycling, like Canada and South Korea, should take firm action to stop ships carrying container vans loaded with trash from leaving their ports and reaching our shores,” said Jessie Tabano of the Ligdung Sumabanan Alang sa mga Kabataan sa Sugbo. 

To fast track the return of the South Korean garbage, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, appealed to the Bureau of Customs, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other agencies to ensure a “coordinated, unified and transparent response” to the dumping controversy.

“A coordinated, unified and transparent response is essential to make sure that these unwanted garbage shipments from South Korea will not suffer the same fate as the illegal waste imports from Canada in 2013 that are still rotting in our territory,” said Lucero, who was in Cebu for the said environmental conference.

Lucero cited Cebu’s customs, environmental and local government authorities for acting in a synchronized fashion, which eventually led to the immediate return of the mixed garbage shipments from South Korea in early 2017.

It will be recalled that on January 20, 2017, some 5,000 metric tons of mixed wastes, misrepresented as “solid granular particles of wood chips and synthetic resin” entered the Port of Cebu on board MV Christina and were subsequently dumped at Barangay Tingub in Mandaue City.

The dumped wastes were swiftly returned to South Korea almost two weeks after the government of Mandaue City learned about it from furious residents who complained about the reeking garbage in their barangay.


18 November 2018

Mercury-Contaminated Skin Whitening Creams: The Toxic Cosmetic that Will Not Go Away (Groups Challenge Governments to Consign Mercury-Contaminated Skin Lightening Creams to History)

Skin whitening products laced with mercury, a highly poisonous substance, remain a serious threat to public health, especially to women.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health organization, pointed to the uninterrupted marketing of imported skin lightening creams laden with mercury despite regulatory efforts to get these dangerous products out of commerce.

To call attention to the continuing trade of such dangerous skin whiteners, the EcoWaste Coalition this month searched for and purchased products that are among those already banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their mercury content.  Under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, the trace amount limit for mercury in cosmetics is one part per million (ppm).

All the 15 products bought and screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer were found to be contaminated with mercury in the range of 710 to 30,000 ppm.  The products were purchased from November 4 to 16 for P60 to P280 each from stores selling cosmetics, herbal supplements and Chinese medicines in Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig and Quezon Cities.  

The group’s latest test purchase coincided with the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP2) on November 19 to 23 in Geneva, Switzerland.  The treaty, which the Duterte government has yet to ratify, aims “to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.” 

Among other targets, the treaty requires the phase-out of cosmetics, including skin lightening products, with mercury above 1 ppm by year 2020.

“The 2020 phase-out deadline for mercury-laced skin lightening products is fast approaching, and we still find these smuggled products in store shelves.  Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, for example, is still up for sale despite being banned by the FDA in 2010,” lamented Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. “These products are damaging our people’s health, especially the health of our women who use such products to lighten their skin color, get rid of dark spots or remove freckles.  Governments must have the political will to wipe these toxic cosmetics off the face of the earth,” he insisted.

Lee Bell, Mercury Policy Advisor of IPEN (a global NGO network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices which counts among its members the EcoWaste Coalition), agreed with Dizon.  "Mercury-based skin lightening creams should be consigned to history,” he said.

“There was a time when we had little information about highly toxic materials like mercury being added to cosmetics and were powerless to act on them.  Thanks to EcoWaste Coalition this is no longer the case. They have consistently shined a light on the illicit sales of this dangerous product, which effectively poisons its users and can even contaminate their home and family. It’s time for the Philippine regulators to end this dangerous trade and ensure their citizens are safe from tainted cosmetics," he added.

According to the World Health Organization, “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.” It also warned that  “mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”

The 15 products bought and found by the EcoWaste Coalition to contain excessive mercury contaminant include:  Parley Herbal Beauty Cream with Avocado (with 30,000 ppm of mercury), Goree Beauty Cream (22,800 ppm),  Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream (20,000 ppm), Yudantang 6-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream (19,200 ppm), Golden Pearl Beauty Cream (11,600  ppm), Erna Whitening Cream (8,957 ppm), Feique Lemon Whitening Freckle-Removing Cream (6,122 ppm), S’Zitang-golden box (2,539 ppm), S’Zitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, (2,470 ppm),  S'Zitang 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set (1,995 ppm), Jiaoli Miraculous Cream (1,888 ppm),  Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, (1,452 ppm), Collagen Plus VitE Day & Night Cream (1,139 ppm), and JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream (710 ppm).

Except for Feique Lemon Whitening Freckle-Removing Cream, all the other 14 products are already banned by the FDA because of their high mercury content.

To protect public health and the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition urged governments across the globe to take proactive steps to realize the 2020 phase-out deadline for mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics and other mercury-added products, including targeted batteries, bulbs and lamps, switches and relays, pesticides, biocides and topical antiseptics, and non-electronic devices such as barometers, hygrometers, manometers, thermometers, and sphygmomanometers.



15 November 2018

Group Urges South Korean Government to Ensure Fast Re-Importation of Misdeclared Plastic Garbage Shipments (K-BOP Action Held to Press for the Return of Korean Garbage to Its Origin)

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health organization for a zero waste and toxics-free society, has appealed to the government of South Korea to act with dispatch to address a brewing foreign garbage dumping crisis in Mindanao.

At a peaceful activity held today outside the Embassy of the Republic of South Korea, the group submitted a letter to Ambassador Han Dong-man urging his government to act decisively to ensure the speedy return of tons of garbage imported from South Korea, which are sitting at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, and at a warehouse in Cagayan de Oro City.

Dubbed as the “Korea: Basura Out of the Philippines,” or K-BOP action, the event drew attention to the 5,100 metric tons of plastic and other waste materials, including used dextrose tubes, diapers, batteries, bulbs, and electronic equipment, impounded at the MICT that, according to the Bureau of Customs, were mis-declared as “plastic synthetic flakes,” and the hundreds of giant bales of garbage found at a Cagayan de Oro warehouse. 

To underline their demand for environmental justice, the group brought with them a big garbage-filled box marked “Back to Seoul, while brandishing a banner that says “please take your garbage back” complete with Korean translation.  The protesters blew whistles and chanted “K-POP, OK; basura, no way” to draw attention to this latest dumping scandal.

“As the first ASEAN country to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea in 1949, as an active supporter of the peace and reconciliation efforts in the Korean peninsula, as a major trading partner, and as the nation of some 66,000 Filipinos working or living in South Korea, we strongly believe that the Philippines, a sovereign country, deserves not to be treated as a garbage dump,” wrote Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.  “In fact, we believe no country or community should be debased as a dumping ground for garbage.”

“We are concerned that plastics that are difficult or are costly to recycle in your country are being dumped in low- and middle-income countries such as the Philippines in the guise of ‘recycling,’” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

With China shutting its doors to foreign waste imports effective January this year “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health,” the EcoWaste Coalition expressed its fear that plastic wastes from developed economies like the Republic of Korea are getting diverted to other low- and middle-income countries that are already burdened by mounting waste problems and other critical socio-economic and developmental challenges. 

“The Philippines has a serious plastic waste problem that is already spilling into the world’s oceans, and the export of plastic scraps and mis-declared waste materials from the Republic of Korea is only exacerbating our plastic dilemma,” Lucero emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that this is not the first incident of garbage from South Korea being dumped in the Philippines. 

In February 2017, some 5,000 metric tons of mixed wastes, mis-declared as “solid granular particles of wood chips and synthetic resin,” arrived at the Port of Cebu and were subsequently shipped back to South Korea upon the order of the Philippines Bureau of Customs and the Cebu Port Authority. 

To make sure that garbage dumping will never occur again, the EcoWaste Coalition called upon the South Korean government to strengthen regulatory controls that will prevent the export of its garbage to low- and middle-income countries in the name of “recycling.”  

“Any trade in plastic waste should be subjected to strict controls based on the numerous negative experiences of Southeast Asian countries, and responsibility for dealing with them must be shouldered by manufacturers, following extended producer responsibility,  and close to the source as possible,” the group emphasized. 

The group further urged the South Korean government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the export of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries even for recycling purposes.

As head of the South Korean foreign mission in the Philippines, the EcoWaste Coalition requested Ambassador Han Dong-man to raise the matter to the immediate attention of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae.



12 November 2018

Korean Store Chain Urged to Pull Out Banned “Shrilling Chicken” Plastic Toy

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental health organization, has called upon a Korean concept store chain to take an unregistered toy, which is banned in Europe and in the Philippines, too, off the shelves. 

Through a letter sent last week, the group urged Ximiso Corp. to immediately halt the sale of China-made “Shrilling Chicken,” a squeezable plastic toy in the shape of a chicken that makes a screaming sound when pressed.  This toy sells for P95 per piece and comes in at least six variants.

“As an organization promoting the health and safety of Filipino children, we write to notify your company regarding the illegal sale in your store chain of ‘Shrilling Chicken’ that may contain hazardous substances,” wrote Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dizon cited three reasons why the company has to stop selling “Shrilling Chicken.” Firstly, because of the likely presence of hazardous chemicals on its plastic material that can pose serious health and environmental risks.  Secondly, the toy lacks the required market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  And thirdly, the toy is inadequately labeled.

The group noted that the product label provided no license to operate (LTO) number, cautionary statement/ warning, usage instruction, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor.  

Dizon pointed to the possible presence of DBP, DEHP and DINP phthalates on the toy’s plastic material, as well as short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs), which are toxic plasticizers not allowed in toys and other children’s products.

“We further urge your company to ensure the environmentally-sound disposal of your remaining stocks of ‘Shrilling Chicken.’  We also suggest that you take back such toys already sold and to offer your customers full refund or suitable product replacement,” Dizon further said.

The group informed Ximiso Corp. that the FDA issued Advisory No. 2017-209 on 19 July 2017 advising the general public against the purchase of “Shrilling Chicken” and seven other toy products for lacking the required Toy and Childcare Article (TCCA) notifications.   These toys have not undergone FDA’s verification procedures, so “the agency cannot guarantee their quality and safety.” 

The FDA warned: “The use of such violative products may pose potential health hazards to the consuming public. Potential hazards may come from materials that are not allowed to be part of a TCCA product or from the contamination of heavy metals.” 

Prior to the FDA advisory, countries in Europe have either banned or ordered the withdrawal from the market of “Shrilling Chicken.”  Slovakia banned “Shrilling Chicken” in 2008, Sweden in 2013, Czech Republic in 2014, Spain in 2016 and Luxembourg in 2017, the EcoWaste Coalition said citing information from the European Union’s rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products.  

Slovakia, Czech Republic, Spain and Luxembourg took action after finding prohibited phthalates in toys such as DEHP and DINP on the plastic material of the chicken.  DEHP, in particular, “may harm the health of children, causing possible damage to the reproductive system.” 

Sweden banned “Shrilling Chicken” as “the product poses an environmental risk (chemical pollution) because the plastic in the chicken contains up to 10% short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs),” a class of persistent organic pollutant.

In 2010 and 2012, laboratory tests commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition found samples of Shrilling Chicken laden with high concentrations of banned DBP and DEHP phthalates way above the maximum limit of 0.1 percent by weight.


Reference re government-issued advisories vs. "Shrilling Chicken":

Philippines, 2017

Luxembourg, 2017

Spain, 2016

Czech Republic, 2014

Sweden, 2013

Slovakia, 2008

10 November 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Slams Boatload of Garbage from South Korea, Calls for Immediate Return of Misdeclared Garbage to Its Origin (Group urges PH to ban importation of waste plastic)

A national environmental health and justice organization denounced the entry of misdeclared plastic trash from South Korea, a highly developed economy, to a country like the Philippines, which is struggling to address its own garbage woes.

Fearing a repeat of the still unresolved Canadian garbage dumping scandal, the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition called on the authorities to reject the illegal garbage imports from South Korea and to return them at once to their origin.

Bandila, the late night news broadcast of ABS CBN, reported about the garbage importation controversy on November 10.  The report can be viewed here:

“We find this latest incident of plastic waste dumping outrageous and unacceptable.  Why do we keep on accepting garbage from other countries when we know that our country’s plastic waste, which is literally everywhere, is spilling to the oceans and endangering marine life?,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We also find it ironic that while South Korea is taking action to control its plastic waste, including banning plastic bags in supermarkets starting October this year, and yet its unwanted plastics are being sent abroad,” she said.

“It’s high time for the Philippines to disallow garbage imports and to demand that developed countries, as well as manufacturers of plastics and other disposable goods, take full responsibility for their products throughout their whole life cycle,” she emphasized.

“The illegal garbage shipments from Canada misrepresented as recyclable plastic scraps, which are still in our country, are a stinking reminder of how disadvantageous and unjust global waste trade is,” she reminded.

According to the “request of alert order” issued on October 25,2018 by  Joel Pinawin, Supervisor, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, Bureau of Customs (BOC) - Cagayan De Oro City, the baled garbage misdeclared as “plastic synthetic flakes” arrived from South Korea on board MV Affluent Ocean on July 21, 2018.   

As per the said document, the shipment was consigned to Verde Soko Phil. Industrial Corp. and the “violation committed" was in relation to Section 1400 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act on “Misdeclaration, Misclassification, Undervaluation in Goods Declaration,” one of the crimes punishable under the said law.

As stated by John Simon, Port Collector, Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental: “Kapag plastic flakes, dapat puro plastic flakes ang makikita mo diyan.  Pero hinde, nakita naming may kahoy at iba’t ibang  materials.”  

The incident prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to renew the clarion call it made in 2017 for the government to ban plastic waste imports and for domestic industries requiring plastic scrap inputs to source their supplies locally.

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

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

The EcoWaste Coalition made the call after China announced that it will prohibit the importation of scrap plastics and other wastes by January 2018 “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.” 

The government of Malaysia announced last month that it will phase out in three years the importation of all types of plastic waste following the Chinese ban on waste imports.



https://news.abs-cbn.com/video/news/11/10/18/basura-mula-south-korea-dumating-sa-pilipinas (go to 0:09-0:15 to see the "Request of Alert Order")


08 November 2018

Safety First: Beware of Dangerous Button Batteries in Children's Toys

The EcoWaste Coalition, a environmental group campaigning for children's safety against harmful chemicals, has reminded parents to pay close attention to button batteries in toys and other products.

The group's latest toy safety reminder was triggered by a Facebook post that has gone viral about a young girl named Scarlett who accidentally put a button battery from a Halloween devil headband into her left nostril.   The said Fb post by Scarlett's mother Rose Chavez can be viewed here:

"Toys powered by button batteries can pose serious health risk to young children.  Button batteries in costume headbands, for example, can come loose, get swallowed or pushed into the nostril or ear by an innocent child," said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Aside from toys, button batteries are often found in other children’s products such as fashion and hair accessories, shoes and talking books, as well as in hearing aids, holiday ornaments, musical greeting cards, pocket calculators, thermometers, wrist watches and other portable electronic devices.

If accidentally ingested, the button battery could get stuck or lodged in the throat and cause chemical burns in just two hours.  In some instances, an ingested button battery may pass through the intestines and eliminated in the stool.   

If accidentally pushed into the nasal cavity, the button battery may cause mucous membrane injury, fissure or hole in bone and cartilage of the nose, scar tissue formation, and cellulitis of the eyelid.  

If accidentally placed in the ear canal, this may result in hearing loss, perforation of the eardrum, and facial nerve paralysis.

"Button batteries can pose serious health hazards, including chemical burns, and should  therefore be treated like poison and kept out of children's view and reach," Dizon pointed out.

To prove his point, Dizon cited the latest report from the National Poison Management and Control Center based in the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital listing button batteries among the top 10 overall agents (ranking #7) in referred poison cases for pediatric age group.

"Like what Scarlett's mother did, parents should promptly bring a child who has swallowed a button battery or placed one on the nostril or ear to a medical doctor so the battery is  quickly removed to avoid serious or permanent damage," Dizon said.   

To prevent incidents of button battery poisoning, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following safety reminders:

1. Refrain from buying toys with loosely installed batteries, unregistered, inadequately labeled and not verified as safe by health authorities.

2.  If battery-powered toys cannot be avoided, choose one that has a battery compartment that is properly secured with a screw to prevent child's access.

3.  Carefully read the product safety precautions and instructions.

4.  Don't change or insert batteries in front of small children who may be enticed to do the same. 

5.  Make sure that button batteries are mercury-free or has the “0% Hg Cell” mark.

6.  Keep old and new button batteries out of children’s reach as these can pose a poisoning hazard.

7.  Store spent batteries in a sealed childproof container to prevent kids from playing with them.

8.  Avoid storing or leaving batteries where these might be mistaken for, or eaten with, food.  

9.  If a button battery is swallowed or placed on the ear or nostril, contact the nearest local poison control center, or call the National Poison Management and Control Center's 24-hour hotline at +632-5241078, or seek immediate medical attention. 

- end -


List of top 10 poison agents in 2017 according to the National Poison Management and Control Center:



06 November 2018

Discount Store Urged to Take Dangerous Product Off the Shelves

A pack of attractive artificial nails that is sold for just P20 comes with a toxic adhesive, which can put a woman’s health in danger.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group promoting zero waste and a toxics-free future, made this discovery after purchasing fake nail kits from a store in Cubao, Quezon City that sells fashion accessories, knick knacks and other goods for only P20.

“Some women, especially teenage girls, may find artificial nails nice, pretty and generally harmless.  But, the problem is with the glue that is used to attach the fake nail to the real one.  A glue containing dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is hazardous to health,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dizon cited the artificial nail sets that the group recently bought for P20 per pack.  A closer look at the label of the adhesive tube will show DBP as one of the listed ingredients.    

DBP is among the substances listed in Annex II, Part I of the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which “must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products.”

To protect women consumers from being exposed to DBP, the EcoWaste Coalition yesterday requested the store franchise owner through an e-mail to stop selling the said product.

Dizon recalled that in 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responding to information received from the EcoWaste Coalition, issued Advisory No. 2015-006 entitled “Warning Against Unnotified Adhesive containing DBP.”

The FDA has warned against the use of DBP-containing adhesive for artificial nails as this can cause allergic reactions. “There were previous cases where allergic response to DBP was found to be severe. Allergic reactions can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system,” the health agency said. 

“It can cause the immune system to respond to chemical exposures with immunological reactions that are harmful, varying from hives to life threatening responses such as anaphylactic shock, where low blood pressure and breathing difficulties can result in death,” the FDA explained.  

“We call upon your company to stop the sale of 'Splendid Nail' and to cause their immediate return to their manufacturer, importer or distributor for environmentally-sound disposal,” the EcoWaste Coalition wrote to the store franchise owner.

“As this is a matter of public health and safety, we request your company to undertake the requested action without delay,” the group emphasized.

As the product in question has no market authorization, the EcoWaste Coalition further urged the company to source and only sell products with FDA Certificate of Product Notification.




Overseas Filipinos Warned against Trading Cosmetics with Mercury and Hydroquinone

Confiscated illegally sold cosmetics and other regulated products,  (Photo courtesy of Devon City Council)

A local environmental health organization reminded Filipinos living or working overseas not to engage in the illegal trade of cosmetics containing hazardous substances such as mercury and hydroquinone, or suffer the dire consequences.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the timely reminder after online trader Merarie Day, age 48,  mother of three and originally from the Philippines, was ordered last week by a British court to pay £31,200 within three months or spend time in prison for 18 months.

"Filipinos abroad must not engage in the illicit trade of cosmetics and other regulated products that are not compliant with national and regional safety regulations. In Europe, for example, traders of skin whitening creams containing hydroquinone or mercury are determinedly prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” warned Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition

According to the Devon Trading Standards, Day used her eBay account and her own website to sell products imported from the Philippines, including skin lightening cosmetics containing hydroquinone, which can damage the liver and the nervous system, and mercury, which can damage the kidneys as well as cause skin discoloration, rashes and scarring.

Despite repeated advice by the Devon Trading Standards from 2014-2016, Day reportedly continued to import and sell cosmetic products containing the banned substances, as well as herbal supplements that made false claims about their health benefits. 

A raid at her home in Milizac Close, Yealmpton yielded 600 items, including JJJ Golden Spot Removing Cream, which was found to be contaminated with mercury.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines banned a similar product called JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream (Golden Package) due to its excessive mercury content.

According to UK media reports, Day in 2016 had pleaded guilty to 14 offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008; the Cosmetic Product Enforcement Regulations 2013 and the Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007.

It was also reported that Day pleaded guilty to money laundering charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 with most of the money being remitted to the Philippines.

“At best these products would have left consumers out of pocket and at worst they were dangerous and could have seriously harmed their health. If you think you have some of these products you should stop using them immediately," said Stephen Gardiner, Interventions Manager, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards. 

“By selling these products she put personal profit over the health and wellbeing of her customers. The fact that she has to pay back her illegal earnings or go to jail sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this kind of criminal activity,” he said.





02 November 2018

Garbage Overload: EcoWaste Coalition Grieves Over the Defiling of Cemeteries with Trash (Widespread littering despite repeated reminders to respect the final resting places of the dead)

 Bagbag Public Cementer, Quezon City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Manila South Cemetery, Makati City
 Manila South Cemetery, Makati City
 Manila South Cemetery, Makati City
 Manila South Cemetery, Makati City
 Manila South Cemetery, Makati City
 Manila Memorial Park, Paranaque City
 Manila Memorial Park, Paranaque City
 San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery
Sangandaan Cemetery, Caloocan City

For the nth time, a zero waste advocacy group expressed its dismay over the unabated violation of the national ban on littering as millions crowded the cemeteries yesterday to remember their beloved deceased relatives.

Despite the reminders made by various leaders, including DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu and CBCP Vice-President Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, some cemeteries turned into virtual dumpsites as visitors abandoned their discards without guilt or remorse, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

"Our cemeteries again teemed with garbage,” noted said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. “We lament the brazen disregard of Republic Act 9003, which explicitly bans and penalizes littering --- the most common and visible environmental offense committed during the observance of Undas and our other popular festivities."

R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, forbids the "littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishment, or causing or permitting the same."

"Littering, which is also forbidden under local government ordinances, has regrettably become an ugly feature of our beautiful tradition of remembering family members who have gone before us," he said.

"Littering is totally disrespectful for the dead and for Mother Nature, too, and goes against the very purpose of going to the cemetery to pay respects to lost loved ones. There is no reason for visitors to leave their trash behind and expect others to clean up after them," he pointed out.

Based on field reports received from the group's Basura Patrollers in 22 public and private cemeteries in 10 cities and one municipality in Metro Manila, litterbugs had again marred the serenity of the graveyards as people discarded their trash anywhere.

Littering was most widespread at the Bagbag Public Cemetery, Sangandaan Cemetery, Manila North Cemetery and, most notably, Manila South Cemetery, which was found to be dotted with garbage heaps.

Among the discards found abandoned in cemetery streets and alleys and even in between tombs were food paper and plastic packaging, food leftovers, plastic bags, bottles and cups,  flower plastic wrappings, soiled diapers, and improvised resting materials such as newspapers and corrugated boxes.

The extent of the massive littering at the Bagbag Public Cemetery became more apparent as 17 sweepers deployed by the Quezon City government  cleaned up the area this morning, November 2.  The street gutters and the alleys of "apartment tombs" were strewn with rubbish made worse by the food offerings left by visitors.  Also, some visitors were seen puffing cigarettes despite the ban on smoking in public places.

The EcoWaste Coalition also found the distribution of anti-littering leaflets by personnel from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) at the Bagbag Public Cemetery as ill-timed and useless.  "Instead of handing out leaflets, they should have been deputized to apprehend litterers found violating MMDA's anti-littering Regulation No. 96-009." 

The waste bins at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City were found to be overflowing with trash as early as 6:00 am of November 1, which obviously came from early visitors who came to the park on October 31.

Piles of garbage-filled black plastic bags were found at Serenity Park in Taguig City.

The group also criticized the political tarpaulins that have sprouted in many places, particularly in cemeteries in Caloocan, Malabon and Mandaluyong Cities. 

Aside from littering and mixed waste disposal, the group also noted other violations of R.A. 9003, such as the open burning of garbage as can be seen from the ash residues found in Manila South Cemetery and San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery.  Open burning at Manila North Cemetery was likewise reported.

The group noted that Section 48 of R.A. 9003 penalizes arbitrary waste disposal such as littering, open dumping and open burning and violators could be fined the indiscriminate disposal of waste matters, the group observed.  As per R.A. 9003, litterbugs could be fined P300 to P1,000 and/or be required to render community service from one to 15 days.


Cemeteries Visited by Basura Patrollers:

Caloocan City: Sangandaan Cemetery

Makati City: Manila South Cemetery

Malabon City: Tugatog Public Cemetery

Mandaluyong City: Garden of Life Park City Cemetery, Paradise Private Cemetery, San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery

Manila City: Manila North Cemetery

Parañaque City: Loyola Memorial Park,  Manila Memorial Park

Pasay City: Sgt. Mariano Cemetery, Sementina Cemetery

Pateros Municipality: Garden of Memories Memorial Park, Santa Martha Catholic Cemetery, San Roque Public Cemetery

Quezon City: Bagbag Public Cemetery, Holy Cross Memorial Park

San Juan City: St. John Memorial Park

Taguig City: Aglipay Cemetery, Hagonoy Catholic Cemetery, Santa Ana Catholic Cemetery, Serenity Park, Tipas Roman Catholic Cemetery