30 December 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Appeals to Rizal Park Visitors Not to Leave Rubbish on the Historic Landmark

Fearing a repeat of the unabashed littering at Rizal Park by merrymakers last Christmas, a waste and pollution watchdog reminded New Year revelers to treat the historic landmark with the highest respect.

Anticipating the massive crowd who will throng the famous park for the New Year’s Eve countdown, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public not to abandon their discards in the park, but to bring them home.  

“Please don’t turn Rizal Park into your household garbage bin,” Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, requested park visitors.

“As the site of the Rizal Monument, a cultural treasure where the remains of national hero Jose Rizal are enshrined, Rizal Park deserves nothing less than the highest respect from all visitors,” he said.

“And, as one of the few remaining green spaces in Metro Manila where people from all walks of life can rest and relax for free, treating Rizal Park with greatest care is a no-brainer,” he added.    

As the trash receptacles would not be enough for the thousands of visitors expected on New Year’s Eve, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested that anything that visitors bring or consume in the park has to leave with them. 

Last December 25 and 26, Manila’s Department of Public Services hauled over 50 metric tons of garbage from Rizal Park, mostly food leftovers, sachets and wrappers,  plastic bags, bottles, cups and cutlery, polystyrene containers, and improvised sleeping materials.  

“Instead of leaving your discards behind for park workers to pick up, please bring them home for proper segregation, recycling, composting or disposal. Mga bagay na dinala mo, bitbitin mo rin pauwi," Benosa suggested.

According to the group, the overflowing bins and the mounds of garbage left by the merrymakers last Christmas are not only an eyesore but a threat to human health. 

The abandoned wastes, especially the food leftovers and soiled disposable diapers, pose health and sanitation risks as these can attract disease-spreading animals such as flies and rodents, the group said.

The removal of the wastes from the park also entails a costly operation involving the necessary sweeping, collection and hauling by paid park and city government personnel.

As littering is an offense punishable under national and local laws, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Manila City Government to deploy environmental police who can issue tickets against litterbugs.

As per Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, littering in public spaces, including parks, is a prohibited act.

Violators upon conviction shall be punished with a fine of P300 to P1,000 or community service of one to 15 days, or pay the fine as well as perform community service.

“The enforcement of the law will encourage compliance to the safe  management and disposal of discards, while instilling environmental awareness and responsibility among the park visitors,” Benosa said.



27 December 2019

Groups: Firecrackers Are Dangerous to Cats and Dogs

 As the last day of 2019 rapidly approaches, animal welfare and environmental protection groups called on revelers to shun firecrackers and fireworks as these are not only harmful to human beings but also to animals with highly developed sense of hearing such as cats and dogs.

In a joint press statement, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the EcoWaste Coalition jointly appealed to the public to keep the New Year’s Eve festivities safe and less stressful for cats and dogs. 

“The loud bangs, booms, crackling noises and whistles from firecrackers and fireworks are distressing for cats and dogs who are gifted with highly sensitive hearing,” said Anna Cabrera, Executive Director, PAWS, adding that “the thunderous sounds and flashing lights, especially on the days and hours leading to the New Year, provide no entertainment to our furry friends who are terrified and threatened by the noisy and warlike festivities.” 

“With no safe space to go, the Asong Pinoys (aspins) and Pusang Pinoys (puspins) on the streets are more scared and traumatized when firecrackers are directly thrown at them by uncaring individuals who derive pleasure in seeing them run away in fear,” she said, pointing out that such cruelty to animals is punishable by law.

"If we stop using firecrackers, humans and animals would both be better off - as we do not add to the air and noise  pollution - and we focus on other peaceful, more productive and less harmful ways to usher in the new year," she emphasized. 

"Celebrating with family and friends without firecrackers is possible - if we care for the welfare of our furry friends," she said, further pointing out "when we see how much our pets suffer from severe anxiety and fear from the firecracker blasts, one would understand why majority of pet owners would want a total ban on the use of firecrackers in our country."   

Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, called attention to “the air pollution from the ignition of firecrackers and fireworks that may cause disorientation, appetite loss and upset stomach among exposed cats and dogs.”

“The ingestion of firecrackers and fireworks and their fragments and residues, which are loaded with hazardous substances, may also cause chemical poisoning in cats and dogs,” he warned.

According to Pet Poison Helpline, pets can develop gastrointestinal problems like vomiting, painful abdomen, and bloody diarrhea when firecrackers or fireworks are ingested, the severity of which will depend on the type and amount of firecrackers or fireworks ingested. 

To promote a safe and less stressful New Year’s celebrations for cats and dogs, including aspins and puspins, PAWS and the EcoWaste Coalition urged animal-loving Filipinos to heed the following advice:

1. Sway members of your household and your neighborhood not to light firecrackers and fireworks.

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.  Keep pets inside during firecracker explosions or fireworks displays, but do not chain or tie them.

4. Provide a safe and secure space where pets can stay during the noisy revelry; close the windows and put the curtains down to block out the noise and any abrupt bursts of light.

5.  Play soothing music or turn up the radio or TV to drown out the deafening bangs from firecrackers and fireworks.

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

7. Ensure pet’s access to drinking water, and make your pet pee or poo before the revelry starts.

8.  Escape-proof your home to prevent pets from going outside during the festivities.

9.  Do not  drive stray cats and dogs away, give them food and water, and let them stay at least for the night.   

10.  To avoid choking, strangulation and poisoning incidents, keep shopping bags, cleaning solutions, tobacco products, alcoholic drinks, chocolate, fruit cake, and nuts out of pet's reach.




26 December 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Laments Unrestrained Christmas Littering at Rizal Park (Park Visitors Urged to Show Respect to Martyred Dr. Jose Rizal and to Other People, as well as to Mother Nature, By Keeping Luneta Trash-Free)

The EcoWaste Coalition has bewailed the truckloads of garbage left behind by thousands of merrymakers who trooped to the iconic Rizal Park on Christmas Eve.

The group, an active advocate for a zero waste and toxics-free society, scored the persistent littering by park visitors as an utterly inconsiderate and irresponsible act that should not be repeated on New Year’s Eve, as well as during the overnight vigil preceding the Traslacion of the Black Nazarene on January 9.

“While we thank the park maintenance workers for diligently sweeping up after the visitors, we despise the brazen littering by some uncaring people because this is not an OK thing to do,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Among the items left by uncaring visitors were plastic bags, bottles, cups and cutlery, paper and Styrofoam food containers, and picnic leftovers.   

“Litter is not only unsightly, but also unhygienic and polluting.  Litter attracts flies and rats and causes the spread of diseases, while creating rotting smell from food waste.  Litter, especially single-use plastic bags, can be blown or washed into waterways and the oceans, harming aquatic life,” he said.   

“Also, littering, as we all know, is an environmental offense under Republic Act 9003, a national law, as well as in Manila City Ordinance 7866,” he added.

RA 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, bans littering and violators can be fined from P300 to P1,000, asked to render one to 15-day community service or be required to pay the fine as well as perform community service.

On the other hand, Manila City Ordinance 7866 prohibits and penalizes illegal disposal of garbage with a fine of P3,000 and/or imprisonment of 30 days or both upon the order of the court.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope that Filipinos who will go to Rizal Park to celebrate the fast approaching New Year, or participate in the overnight vigil for the Black Nazarene, will be more considerate and responsible and refrain from sullying the park with trash.  

“Let’s all cooperate in protecting Rizal Park and other green spaces from turning into virtual dumps by sticking with the eco-mantra ‘take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but memories, kill nothing but time’ and by just simply being respectful to fellow visitors and to Mother Earth,” Benosa said.  


25 December 2019

Shun Firecrackers and Fireworks to Reduce Toxic Air Pollution

A medical health expert and an environmental health advocate exhorted all Filipinos to turn away from the dangerous tradition of blasting firecrackers and fireworks to prevent harmful chemicals from polluting the atmosphere.

In a press statement issued a few days before the boisterous New Year’s Eve festivities, pulmonologist Dr, Maricar Limpin and environmentalist Thony Dizon both encouraged the public to ring in 2020 without generating pollutants that can put human health at risk.

“Blowing up firecrackers and fireworks generates microscopic pollutants that affect the quality of the air we breathe and thus pose serious health risks, particularly among children, the elderly, and persons with cardiovascular, neurological and respiratory conditions.  Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, as well as asthma and heart attacks, are some of the negative effects of inhaling these pollutants,” said Limpin who is Secretary of the Philippine College of Physicians.

Among these harmful airborne pollutants from firecracker explosions and fireworks displays are suspended particulate matter (SPM), including PM 2.5 that can travel deep into the respiratory tract and the lungs, carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases, heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

“Lason sa baga ang binubuga ng paputok (firecrackers spew fumes that poison the lungs).  Exposure to these pollutants can trigger or worsen respiratory problems, including allergic or chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, laryngitis, pneumonia, rhinitis, and sinusitis,” Limpin warned.

Dizon, who is the Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, added that “aside from the toxic smog, the blasting of firecrackers and fireworks scatter hazardous litter on streets as well as on water bodies.”

“Spent firecrackers and fireworks are not your typical discards as these contain traces of dangerous chemicals that may contaminate the environment or cause harm to wildlife,” he said.

“In spite of their hazardous makeup, discards from firecrackers and fireworks used during the New Year’s Eve revelry are disposed of as general waste and buried in dumps and landfills,” he lamented.

In addition to chemical and waste pollution, Dizon also drew attention to the extreme noise pollution caused by firecrackers and fireworks that can very well exceed the standard noise level of 50 to 60 decibels for the ambient environment,  which may cause temporary or permanent  hearing loss, high blood pressure, restlessness and sleep disturbance.

To prevent chemical, waste and noise pollution that can cause damage to human health and the ecosystems, Limpin and Dizon sought public support for a safe and responsible celebration of the New Year sans firecrackers and fireworks.  





23 December 2019

EcoWaste Coalition to the Public: Cut Down on “Holitrash”

Cut back on what you throw this holiday season.

This is the timely holiday reminder from the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit organization working toward “a zero waste and toxics-free society where communities enjoy a safe and healthy environment.”

As holiday fever grips homes and communities across the country, the group reminded the public to find ways to reduce the volume of “holitrash” (holiday + trash) from the festive observance of Christmas and the New Year.

“We urge everyone to be mindful of what we consume and dispose of during this most joyful time of the year to reduce the negative impact of the festivities on public health and the environment,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The celebrations need not make the garbage situation worse.  By consuming sustainably and by willfully segregating, reusing, recycling or composting discarded materials, we can be part of the solution, not the problem,” he said.

“For instance, opting not to wrap Christmas presents and saving the wrappers of gifts  received will lessen the amount of packaging materials hauled to dumps or landfills,” he added.   

Christmas gift wrappers and accessories like cards and ribbons should be saved, reused or repurposed instead of throwing such useful resources in the bin, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

To further cut down on “holitrash,” the group reminded consumers anew to shun disposable paper and plastic carry bags, make use of reusable bags and containers, avoid over-packaged products, and steer clear of single-use party supplies such as plastic plates and cutlery.

To promote zero food waste, the group urged the public not to over-prepare food, safely refrigerate, freeze or recycle leftovers, give edible food to the needy, and compost kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings.

The group likewise appealed to all sectors to welcome the New Year sans firecrackers and fireworks to prevent toxic fumes, lower noise pollution and put an end to tragic paputok-related injuries, deaths and fires.  

Recognizing that personal action alone would not be enough to drastically cut the ‘holitrash, the EcoWaste Coalition pressed citizens to push national and local authorities, including the barangay council, to effectively enforce Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The group also pointed to the need for citizens to put pressure on manufacturers to switch to reusable and refillable product delivery systems, and for companies to be responsible for the take-back, recycling and final disposal of their goods at the end of their functional lives.


Additional information on the many ways of reusing or repurposing Christmas packaging:

Christmas wrapping papers can be reused to cover books and notebooks, re-wrap small gifts, line drawers and trays, create origami pieces, or make paper buntings.

Christmas ribbons can be saved for future Birthdays or Christmases or reused as hair bows or garlands for decorations and fun activities.

Christmas paper or plastic gift bags can be reused as carry bags or as pouches for school and office supplies.

Christmas gift boxes can be reused to store small toys, fashion accessories, needles and threads, photos and mementos, CDs and DVDs, as well as electricity, water and other bills.

Christmas money envelopes or red packets can be reused to keep gift cards and tags, extra ID pictures, or turned into instant bookmarks.
Christmas cards can be cut into bookmarks, reused for art projects or saved as decorative materials for the next yuletide celebration.

Christmas hampers, particularly the native basket, can be reused as containers for fresh fruits, ornamental plants, etc.

19 December 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Urges LGUs, Companies and the General Public to Divert Money for Firecrackers and Fireworks to Post-Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Efforts

Local government units (LGUs), corporations, households and ordinary individuals can help victims of devastating storm surge and flooding in Luzon and the Visayas and the quakes in Mindanao by not igniting firecrackers and fireworks this festive season.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, the money saved from not buying and bursting firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices can be channeled to government institutions, private foundations, and church, media and civic groups who are working on the ground to assist the disaster victims.

“We appeal to all LGUs, companies and our fellow Filipinos to donate funds earmarked for firecrackers and fireworks to ongoing relief and reconstruction efforts in disaster-stricken communities,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The money saved from not detonating dangerous and polluting firecrackers and fireworks can be used to buy Noche Buena or Media Noche food packs, housing materials and farm implements for households affected by the recent flooding, storm surge and earthquake incidents that hit various parts of the country," he said.  

“Such a compassionate gesture will offer a glimmer of hope for families whose lives were touched by these tragic disasters,” he said.

In addition, reduced consumption of firecrackers and fireworks will translate to a cleaner, healthier and safer celebration of the holidays, especially on New Year’s eve, the group asserted.

The EcoWaste Coalition also encouraged public officials not to spend taxpayers’ money for “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” tarpaulins.  

"These promotional materials, which often contain cadmium, lead and other toxic chemicals, are totally unnecessary and only add to street clutter and plastic waste," the group said.

The group further requested the public to keep holiday parties simple, and to put aside the funds saved for lavish and wasteful parties to help the poor and the needy among us.


17 December 2019

Green Group Offers Easy Tips for Plastic-Free Holiday Parties

A waste and pollution watchdog group urged the public to take steps to reduce their plastic footprint as family, school, workplace, church and barkada get-togethers are held during the joyful yuletide season,

In keeping with the first “R” of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with ideas, which, if carried out, could help in cutting the volume of single-use plastic (SUP) waste generated  in countless Christmas and New Year parties.

“With parties happening left and right, we see loads of disposable plastics being bought, used and disposed of.  Right after the merrymaking, we see these SUPs being thrown in the bin as quickly as these are used.  Just look at the bin or the dumpster and you will easily see evidence of the pervasive throw-away culture, which SUPs have come to represent,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We should no longer think single-use plastic plates, cutlery, water bottles and straws, as well as grocery bags and food packaging, are cheap.  SUPs, which are petroleum products, are anything but cheap considering the huge costs of plastic pollution, from production to their disposal, which are not reflected in their actual price,” he said.

“We now need to rethink the so-called cheapness and convenience of SUPs amid the increasing threat of plastic and toxic pollution to the natural environment, including sea life,” he pointed out.

“As we ask producers to curb the production of SUPs and hasten the introduction of sustainable product packaging and delivery systems to reduce plastic and chemical wastes, we also ask consumers to curb personal consumption of SUPs,” he added.

To help in reducing the purchase, use and disposal of SUPs, including Styrofoam items, the EcoWaste Coalition urged party organizers, as well as partygoers, to try these ideas for plastic-free yuletide parties:

1.  First and foremost, plan for a waste-free and plastic-free party.

2.  Refrain from putting up plastic banners and shun the use of plastic bags as buntings, especially for street parties.  Keep decorations simple and plastic-free. 

3.  Go for reusable tablecloths instead of one-time use table covers.

4.  Have a drink dispenser as a replacement for single-serve bottled juice, soda or water.

5.  Serve drinks in reusable glasses.

6.  Ditch plastic straws.

7.  Bring your own reusable takeout containers for food to be bought elsewhere. 

8.  If ordering food online, cut back on plastic cutlery, wrap and bags.  

9.  Serve food on reusable plates and bowls with matching cutlery that can be washed and reused.

10.  If your stock of reusable party essentials is not enough, consider borrowing additional dishes and cutlery from friends or neighbors.

11.  For bigger celebrations, consider renting party supplies such as tablecloths, cloth napkins, drink dispensers, serving trays, plates, spoons, forks, knives, etc.

12.  Put a “zero food waste” reminder on the table.

13.  Put segregated waste bins on display. 

14.  Send leftovers home in reusable jars.

15.  Compost food scraps.


15 December 2019

Consumers Told to Avoid Misbranded and Hazardous Toys

As we get closer to the Christmas holiday, the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group for children’s and environmental health, urged consumers to refrain from purchasing improperly labeled and unsafe toys.

The group’s latest toy safety reminder came on the heels of a recent advisory by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) saying that toys and child care articles (TCCAs) lacking the required labeling information are deemed “misbranded or banned hazardous substances and shall not be allowed to be distributed or sold in the market.”

“To protect vulnerable children against hazardous toys, and to encourage industry-wide compliance to toy safety standards and labeling regulations, we advise consumers to pick toys that are compliant to what the law requires.  Stronger consumer demand for adequately labeled safe toys will compel toy manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers to abide by the law, or lose customers and profits,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition

As per FDA Advisory No. 2019-486, TCCAs are considered “misbranded” or “banned hazardous substances” if the following information are not duly indicated on the label:  1) License to Operate number issued by FDA; 2) age grading; 3) cautionary statement/warnings; 4) instructional literature; 5) manufacturer’s markings (name and address of the local company); and 5) item model /stock keeping unit (SKU) number.

The said advisory is in line with Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013, which seeks to protect children against potential hazards to their health and safety by requiring special labeling of toys and games.

“As children are prone to various environmental and health risks, we urge toy givers to watch out for toys in the market that may expose a child to harmful chemicals or cause choking, skin cuts and abrasions,  strangulation and injuries to the eyes and ears,” Dizon said.

For a safer toy gift-giving this Christmas, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to pay attention to the following reminders: 

1. Select age-appropriate toys.

2. Choose durable and well-made toys. 

3. Reject toys with small parts to lessen the risk of choking. 

4. Avoid toys with a cord longer than 12 inches to prevent strangulation incidents. 

5.  Steer clear of toys with pointed parts, sharp edges and those that can eject small objects.

6.  Avoid painted toys unless certified as lead-safe.  

7.  Shun toys made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which may contain toxic additives.

8.  Refrain from buying toys that are packed in too much layers of  wasteful plastic wrappers.

9.  Shop for duly labeled and FDA-notified toys.    

To see TCCAs that are duly notified with the FDA and are distributed by FDA-licensed manufacturers, traders and distributors, please go to this site.


"Gift givers may also consider giving non-toy gifts that could, for example, help kids to explore their creative talents, get them more excited to read and gain new knowledge, or make them healthy and fit," the EcoWaste Coalition added.  




14 December 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for a Plastic-Free Black Nazarene Feast

With less than a month left until the epic feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, a waste and pollution watchdog group called on the millions of devotees to shun plastic disposables for a greener celebration.

In a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition underlined the importance of cutting the consumption and disposal of single-use plastics in light of the efforts of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to clean up the capital city.

“Pervasive littering has tainted each and every re-enactment of the Traslacion from Luneta to Quiapo as if leaving rubbish on the ground is an ethical and legal thing to do,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Littering goes against the church teaching calling on the faithful to care for creation, including marine life that is seriously threatened by plastic pollution," he said.

Making the Traslacion plastic-free will be in line with the call earlier made by Pope Francis "to confront this (plastic) emergency," the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

Pope Francis, in his message last year for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, stated "we cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic." 

"Devotees can show their support to the papal plea against plastic pollution and to the ongoing Manila makeover by minimizing plastic and other residual waste during the conduct of the Traslacion," Benosa said.  

"Improper waste disposal is also a violation of laws banning littering and dumping in public places,” he added. 

Manila City Ordinance 7866, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Regulation No. 96-009 as amended  by Regulation No. 99-006, and Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, explicitly prohibit and penalize littering, Benosa pointed out.

Republic Act 9003, in particular, punishes violators upon conviction with a fine of P300 to P1,000, community service of one to 15 days, or both.

This year’s “pahalik” and procession of the revered image of the Black Nazarene yielded 47 truckloads of trash equivalent to 160 tons, according to the MMDA. 

Among the items discarded along the six-kilometer processional route were single-use plastic bags, bottles, cups and plates, as well as polystyrene food containers, cigarette butts  and bamboo skewers.

To reduce the volume of rubbish thrown on streets and sidewalks in next year's Traslacion, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to all Black Nazarene devotees, vendors and fiesta organizers and volunteers, to heed the following suggestions:

1.  To the devotees: Avoid consuming products in single-use plastics, and dispose of trash properly. 

2.  To vendors: Refrain from selling snacks and drinks in plastic disposables, and be responsible for your discards.

3.  To food and water givers: Desist from offering water in single-use plastic bags, bottles or cups, and refrain from giving meals in polystyrene or Styrofoam containers.  Go for reusable containers.

4.  To fiesta organizers:  Don’t use plastic bags (i.e., “plastic labo”) as banderitas, or street garlands.

5.  To all fiesta participants: Prevent and reduce all forms of fiesta waste, and never leave rubbish on the road, sidewalk, street corner, park and plant box.





Collection of Broken CRTs in Malabon City

Discarded cathode ray tubes (CRTs) containing hazardous substances such as lead are collected in Malabon City as part of the "Safe PCB and  E-Waste Management Project" implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with funding assistance from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).  The project, among other things, aims to ensure the environmentally sound management of some1.15 tons of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) from 50,000 CRT monitors to protect public health and the environment from such toxic chemicals.  The collected CRTs will be safely managed by the Integrated Recycling Industries (IRI) Philippines, Inc. based in Calamba City.

12 December 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Children Not to Light Firecrackers and Fireworks for a Safe and Non-Toxic New Year Revelry

For the 14th year in a row, the EcoWaste Coalition today launched its “Iwas Paputoxic” drive for public safety and environmental health as the country gets ready to bid 2019 goodbye and usher in 2020.

Held in support of the firecracker injury prevention program by the Department of Health (DOH), “Iwas Paputoxic” seeks to encourage families and the communities they belong to turn away from the dangerous and polluting tradition of detonating firecrackers and fireworks to welcome the New Year.

At a festive event held at the San Antonio Elementary School in Quezon City with hundreds of pupils in attendance, the group, together with government officials, Miss Philippines Earth 2019 Janelle Lazo Tee and Miss Philippines Earth Eco-Tourism Karen Nicole Piccio, informed the young audience about the negative effects of firecrackers and fireworks to human health and ecosystems, as well as promoted the use of alternative ways of merrymaking.

“The misuse of firecrackers and fireworks can cause blast injuries or burns that may require amputation, eye damage that may lead to blindness, tetanus, poisoning and even death with children as the most affected” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition who also stressed that “while the number of injuries has been declining through the years, we still need to work harder to protect all children from being harmed by firecrackers and fireworks.” 

According to DOH, firecracker-related incidents declined by 34 percent with 340 cases in 2018 compared to 550 cases monitored in 2017, with the National Capital Region having the highest number of recorded incidents. Most of the victims were youth aged five to 14 years with most of the injuries caused by piccolo, boga, lusis, kwitis and triangulo.

“The warlike bursting of firecrackers and fireworks also pollute our environment with toxic smog that can trigger or worsen respiratory and other health disorders, while generating equally toxic litter that only adds to our garbage woes,” he pointed out.     

Antonio Miranda, Principal of SAES enjoined the students assembled at the school’s covered court not to even touch firecrackers and fireworks for their own safety.  “It is better to be safe than get harmed by piccolo, rockets, sparklers and other pyrotechnic devices, legal or not.  Tandaan ninyo: nasa huli lagi ang pagsisisi.”

As explained by Dr. Germinin Louis C. Apostol, Environmental Health Specialist of the Center for Research and Innovation, Ateneo de Manila University: “The inhalation of the toxic air pollutants released from the detonation of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices can cause chronic or allergic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, laryngitis, pneumonia, rhinitis, and sinusitis, especially among children and others suffering from colds and allergies.”

Among these toxic air emissions are suspended particulate matters and other gaseous pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide. 

Instead of wasting money for a few minutes of toxic fun, the EcoWaste Coalition urged children, as well as adults, to save it for school projects or to buy nutritious foods.

To show that fun is not in any way reduced by the absence of firecrackers and fireworks, the students staged a lively countdown to the New Year using emission-free alternative noisemakers, including pots and pans, improvised maracas and tambourines, paper and plastic horns, and other creative noisemakers.

The Batang Emergency Response Team (BERT) of SAES also made a presentation on the dangers of firecrackers and first-aid tips in case of firecracker injuries..

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged the public not to burn used tires on New Year's eve, an illegal act that can generate loads of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, volatile organic compounds, benzene, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls,and heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium and mercury, which are released directly into the atmosphere.




10 December 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Makes a Pitch for a Plastic-Free, Waste-Free Christmas Celebration

With holiday shopping and partying getting more intense as Christmas nears, an environmental watchdog group called on the public to exert efforts to make the festive celebration plastic-free and waste-free in line with the basic human right to a healthy environment. 

Together with the Barangay Sta. Teresita Council, the EcoWaste Coalition and its members gathered outside the barangay hall opposite the Dapitan Arcade, a popular spot for buying Christmas decorations and bric-a-bracs, to offer consumers some practical tips for a greener Christmas.

“Making this year’s celebration of Christmas plastic-free and waste-free will contribute to the fulfillment of the right to a healthy environment that all persons and communities deserve to enjoy,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Specifically, reducing one’s plastic footprint during this festive occasion and beyond will help in cutting the demand for fossil fuels that causes global warming, and also cut the volume of plastics that is burned, buried or dumped into the oceans,” he said.

The group echoed the statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment saying that “a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is integral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation.”

With the right to a healthy environment in mind, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to observe the following suggestions for a plastic-free and waste-free Christmas:

1.  Make a shopping checklist to avoid impulse and wasteful buying and overspending.

2.  Bring your own bayong or reusable carry bags when you shop; refuse plastic or paper bags at the cashier counter.

3.  Scout around for eco-friendly products before making a purchase;  look for goods that are minimally packed, safe, durable, and which can be repaired, reused, recycled or passed on to other users.

4.  Support local products such as those made or marketed by farmers’ cooperatives and various charities and communities to sustain their efforts toward self-reliance, and to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

5.  Consider buying in bulk to reduce the cost per unit, as well as to lessen packaging waste.

6.  Refrain from wrapping gifts and use old magazines, newspapers, fabric scraps or native baskets if wrapping cannot be avoided.

7.  Carefully unwrap gifts received and save the bags, boxes, bows, ribbons and wrappers, if any, for the next gift-giving season.

8.  Opt for party items that can be washed and reused instead of single-use plastic plates, cups and cutlery.

9.  Bring reusable containers for take-out food, as well as for leftovers

10. Junk the use of cling wrap, which is not recyclable nor compostable.

11.  Recycle or share edible food leftovers with the poor.

12.  Keep soda cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and other recyclable discards to sell to junk shops or to give to informal waste recyclers.

“Heeding our call for an eco-friendly Christmas will go a long way toward promoting sustainable consumption in our households and communities,” said Benosa.

Among the citizens’ groups that joined today’s event were the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Mangangalakal sa Longos, and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong, two active associations of non-formal waste recyclers.




09 December 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Calls on Stakeholders to Advance CHR’s “People’s Right to Chemical Safety” Agenda

In conjunction with the observance of Human Rights Day on December 10, a waste and pollution watchdog group appealed to all sectors to uphold the citizens’ right to chemical safety.

“As Human Rights Day is commemorated, we appeal to all stakeholders, especially duty-bearers from the government and the industry, to seriously take stock of their efforts to address the people’s right to chemical safety,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group called to mind the “15-point human rights agenda” on chemical safety released in 2014 by the Commission on Human Rights whereby the CHR urged stakeholders “to commit to building a toxic-free society for all” in line with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). 

SAICM is a global policy framework to promote chemical safety whose overall objective is that “by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health.”

“Five years since the CHR issued the said human rights agenda toward chemical safety, relevant policies, regulations and programs were put in place, including the phase-out of paints with lead additives, the prohibition on household pesticides containing chlorpyrifos and dichlorvos, and the implementation of the globally harmonized system of chemical classification and labeling.  However, big gaps still remain as regards the fulfillment of the commission’s recommended actions,” Dizon said.

The group cited the following as examples of CHR recommendations that have yet to be met: 1) the enactment of laws that will increase the accountability of manufacturers from the production, reuse, recycling, and disposal of their commodities;  2) the establishment of a mandatory and publicly accessible Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs); 3) the adoption of alternative agricultural practices using natural and organic materials and processes; 4)  the prevention of toxic trade and the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment; and 5) the active promotion of Zero Waste resource management.

As enunciated by the CHR, “the right of chemical safety encompasses broad and pressing aspects in people’s lives – food safety, consumer protection, proper waste management, occupational safety, chemical accidents and chemical exposure, among others.”

“Accordingly, a plethora of rights are involved, inter alia, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, right to healthy natural and working environments, maternal and child health, right to adequate standard of living, right to know, people participation, right to remedy, and ultimately, right to life.”

“Most affected vulnerable sectors of society are women of child-bearing age, children, elderly, indigenous peoples, farmers, workers, persons with disabilities, and persons with chemical sensitivities,” the CHR said.

As SAICM is to end next year, the EcoWaste Coalition urged government, industry and civil society stakeholders to participate in the ongoing global processes to ensure a stronger framework and plan of action for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

In line with a resolution adopted by the second United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA), the group further urged the government to ensure the integration of the sound management of chemicals and waste in the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022.

UNEA had earlier called on member states “to reflect the sound management of chemicals and waste as a priority in their national sustainable development planning processes, poverty eradication strategies and relevant sector policies.”






07 December 2019

Green Groups Push for Sustainable Measures to Solve Garbage Woes in Metro Manila and the Entire Nation Sans Incineration

Environmental groups today urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to address the swelling garbage production in Metro Manila and the rest of the country through pollution prevention policies and systems toward building a zero waste and toxics-free society.

Last Thursday, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu announced the issuance of DENR Administrative Order No. 2019-21, which provides for the guidelines on the establishment of waste-to-energy (WtE) facilities for the disposal of municipal solid waste, as well as the department’s plan to issue a separate directive banning single-use plastics (SUPs).

In response to Cimatu’s declaration,  various environmental groups such as the EcoWaste Coalition, Green Convergence, Greenpeace, Mother Earth Foundation, No Burn Pilipinas and the Davao City-based Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) expressed their views and suggestions to prevent waste from being produced, dumped, incinerated or spilled into the environment, including the world’s oceans.

“The experience of our partner communities is telling us that the massive production and consumption of wasteful single-use items such as sachet packaging and the failure of big companies to own up to the plastic and chemical mess we’re in is the main obstacle to the envisaged zero waste and toxics-free society,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While it’s easy to solely put the blame on wasteful and undisciplined consumers, the authorities should ask companies to take full responsibility for the unrestrained production of SUPs that are quickly used and disposed of, and to direct such companies into adopting sustainable product packaging and delivery systems,” he said.

Chinkie Pelño-Golle, Executive Director of IDIS, agreed stressing that “while local government units (LGUs) are mandated to act on the garbage problem, the national government should target the plastics producers and big companies to start phasing out the production of plastics and for them to produce and use environment-friendly packaging.”

Regarding the anticipated DENR order on SUPs, “the ban should include the timed phase-out of single-use packaging, starting with the most problematic types such as multi-layer single-serve sachets;  contain provisions for polluter pays principle; exclude the adoption of false solutions such as ‘oxo-biodegradable’ plastic, ‘biodegradable’ plastic, and single-use paper packaging; encourage LGUs to incentivize refill and reuse and other delivery systems adopted by businesses and establishments; and that the order should be used to strengthen implementation of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, particularly the provisions for strict segregation at source,” said Lea Guerrero, Country Director, Greenpeace Philippines.  She added that “above all, the ban should be crafted within national Zero Waste framework, using RA 9003 as a starting point.”

“Whatever types of plastic are allowed, all should go to where they can be resources again.  This means that producers have the responsibility to see that their products or packaging are recyclable and recycled,” said Dr. Angelina Galang, President, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, adding the “government must oversee the total program for rational and enforced segregation, collection, recycling, and composting of discards.”

“Instead of WtE facilities that burn discards, we challenge the DENR to focus its energy and  resources in establishing Zero Waste systems that will conserve resources through sustainable production, consumption, reuse and recovery of all products, packaging and materials, without incinerating them and without discharging chemical pollutants to the natural environment,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

For his part, Glenn Ymata, Campaign Manager of No Burn Pilipinas warns that the DENR may face suit with respect to the WtE guidelines it issued.  “We strongly believe that  the DENR may have violated certain provisions of the laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.  We have yet to receive a copy of the issued administrative order so our lawyers can review and look into the legal infirmities of the same,” he said.




02 December 2019

Green Groups Vow Support for QC’s Ban on Single-Use Plastic and Paper Disposables

In response to the plea made by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, various ecology groups signified their support for groundbreaking citywide policies aimed at reducing the volume of single-use plastics and other residual wastes.   

At a press conference held yesterday, Belmonte announced the promulgation of Ordinance No.2876, which bans the distribution and use of single-use plastics and disposable containers in hotels and restaurants in the city effective February 1, 2020, as well as Ordinance No. 2868, which bans the distribution of plastic bags by retailers effective January 1, 2020.  Ordinance 2868 will also ban the distribution of brown bags in various establishments one year after it has taken effect.

“Introduced by Councilor Dorothy Delarmente, these Ordinances are concrete steps taken by the City Government to prevent plastic bags and single-use plastics from entering the waste stream and thus lessening the possibility of these plastics from ever reaching bodies of water, she said, stressing “it takes a concerted effort from all stakeholders to prevent this problem from escalating.”

“I encourage all stakeholders to support the newly-enacted ordinances,” Belmonte said.  “We hope that you will continue to partner with the City Government to advance our advocacies on climate change, sustainability and environmental protection,” she told members of the EcoWaste Coalition, which co-organized the press conference.     

Belmonte’s clarion call drew immediate support from the EcoWaste Coalition and other green groups.

“The promulgation of these twin pollution prevention ordinances against plastic and paper disposables is as a step in the right direction,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of theEcoWaste Coalition, who commended Belmonte, Delarmente and the City Council for giving priority consideration to these progressive environmental policies.

“This action from the ground should encourage the speedy approval of a robust national legislation phasing out single-use plastics and other disposables to advance the consumption and production agenda in the country,” she pointed out.  

Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of the Mother Earth Foundation, also lauded the passage of the ordinances stressing that “other local government units should take their cue from Quezon City and enact similar measures that will address the proliferation of throw-away packaging such as single-use plastics, which constitute a main obstacle in community efforts to reach the Zero Waste goal.”

"These waste prevention measures targeting the consumption and disposal of single-use plastics and other throw-away materials will surely contribute to reducing the city's massive production of garbage. We expect the business community and the citizenry to rally behind the effective enforcement of these measures, as well as the promotion of sustainable practices toward a greener city," said Dr. Angelina Galang, President of the Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy.

Under Ordinance No. 2876, single-use and disposable materials such as plastic spoons, forks and knives; plastic/paper cups, plates, straws, stirrers; and Styrofoam will not be allowed for dine-in customers in hotels and restaurants.

Hotels are likewise prohibited from distributing items used for hygienic purposes like soaps, shampoos, conditioners and shower gels in sachets and single-use containers.

Under phase one of Ordinance No. 2868, “a total ban on the distribution of plastic bags will be implemented by all shopping malls, supermarkets, department stores, grocery stores, fast food chains, food stalls, restaurants, drug stores, pharmacies and other similar retailers.”

For phase two of Ordinance No. 2868,“ total ban on the distribution of brown bags” by retailers will be imposed “one year after the effectivity of this Ordinance.”

Violators of the said Ordinances will be fined PHP1,000 for the first offense;  PHP3,000 for the second offense, plus revocation of Environmental Clearance and issuance of a Cease and Desist Order; and 3)  PHP5,000, plus revocation of Business Permit and issuance of a Closure Order.


29 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Urges SEA Games Spectators to Keep Venues Waste-Free (Let's go for gold in terms of reduced garbage and pollution throughout the games, says green group)

As the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) is officially inaugurated tomorrow at the Philippine Arena, a waste and pollution watchdog group reminded spectators to keep the venues of the multi-sport regional event waste-free.

The EcoWaste Coalition appealed for public cooperation to ensure that the sports venues and their vicinities will not be sullied by litter and filth that is often a common problem in big gatherings.  

“As host country for the biennial sporting event, let us show our esteemed guests and our own people that we care for our environment,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Not leaving any trash at the sports venues is a simple act that we can do to make the SEAG an eco-friendly experience for competitors and spectators alike,” he said.        

“We urge everyone to be mindful of the ecological waste management system that should be in place in all the sports venues in Clark, Subic, Metro Manila and other places.  Please put your discards in the segregated waste bins,” he said.  

To reduce the generation of garbage in the sports venues, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to heed the following 10-point waste prevention tips.

Tip 1:  Don't bring in food and beverage to the venue if not permitted.

Tip 2:  If allowed, bring food and drinks in reusable containers to cut on single-use plastic and paper trash.

Tip 3:  Put candy wrappers in your pockets and keep them with you until you see a bin. 

Tip 4:  Dispose of spent chewing gum properly; do not throw it on the floor or stick it in under the seat.

Tip 5:  Refrain from tossing dirty tissues and wipes onto the ground.

Tip 6:  Don't leave any trash on or under the bleachers; put discards in the bins provided.

Tip 7:  Observe the “no smoking, no vaping, no spitting” rule.

Tip 8:  Avoid using plastic cheering paraphernalia.

Tip 9:  Don't throw confetti on the athletes.

Tip 10:   Never release balloons or sky lanterns to celebrate, which will only end up as litter on land or in the ocean.

“If a venue lacks a good system for managing waste, we request the public to consider bringing their discards home for proper recycling or disposal,” Benosa suggested.

"Let's cheer for all the SEAG athletes and go for gold in terms of spotless venues and reduced garbage and pollution throughout the games," the EcoWaste Coalition said.


25 November 2019

Local Government Units Take Action to Protect Their Constituents from Mercury in Skin Whitening Cosmetics

The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog group, gave local government units (LGUs) a pat on the back for taking action to stop the illegal sale of skin whitening cosmetics laden with mercury, a toxic substance that is not permitted as an ingredient in cosmetics under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

The group cited the concerted action by some LGUs to address this public health and environmental issue as the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP3) is set to take place from November 25 to 29, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The group particularly cited the Quezon City Government for promulgating Ordinance No. 2767 in 2018, which prohibits business and commercial establishments, as well as street, “tiangge” and online vendors, from manufacturing, distributing and selling cosmetics with mercury content above one part per million (ppm) limit.

The group also lauded the Baguio City Government and the Manila City Government through their respective City Councils for considering measures similar to what the Quezon City Government adopted to combat the unlawful trade in mercury-added skin whitening products in their areas of jurisdiction.

The proposed ordinance banning and penalizing the trade in skin whitening cosmetics containing mercury above 1 ppm in Baguio City was filed by Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan, while counterpart ordinance was introduced by District II Councilor Numero Lim in Manila City.  Preliminary hearings were already conducted by the Baguio City Council Committee on Market, Trade, Commerce and Agriculture chaired by Councilor Philian Weygan Allan, and by the Manila City Council Committee on Health chaired by Councilor Louisito Chua.  

“We support the expedited approval of the pending ordinances in Baguio and Manila to send a clear message to unscrupulous traders of mercury-tainted skin whitening cosmetics that their days are numbered and that they can no longer evade responsibility for their illicit act,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We urge other LGUs where the illegal sale of mercury-laced skin whitening products goes unchecked to follow the good example set by Quezon City to protect public health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury pollution,” he added.   

The EcoWaste Coalition further commended other LGUs, particularly the Angeles City Government, for cracking down on sellers who continue to defy the ban on mercury-contaminated skin whitening cosmetics that is being enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“National and local actions are essential to realize the global phase-out target by 2020 of cosmetics, including skin whitening products, with mercury above 1 ppm as per the Minamata Convention on Mercury,” Dizon said.

“As 2020 is just around the corner, we expect COP3 and all governments to actively pursue measures toward the effective phase-out of targeted mercury-added products (MAPs) under the mercury treaty,” he said, noting that the Philippines has already drawn up its national action plan for the phase-out of MAPs and the management of their associated wastes despite the country's delay in ratifying the treaty.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),” the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”

Repeated applications of such 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 WHO warned.




24 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Slams Latest Attempts to Import Toxic Waste from South Korea

The environmental health watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition deplored the entry into the country of some 53,000 metric tons of radioactive phosphogypsum from  South Korea as intercepted by government agents.

The group also scored the importation of electronic waste, or e-waste, from South Korea in one 40-foot container that was falsely declared as used television and electrical spare parts

At the same time, the group commended the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for their swift action, which led to the seizure of the phosphogypsum shipments on November 22 at a wharf in Cabangan, Zambales and the subsequent arrest of the ship master, his crew and the crane operators.  .

The group further lauded the Environmental Protection and Compliance Division of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for stopping the e-waste consignment, which arrived on November 6 at the Manila International Container Port.

“We deplore this most recent act to transfer into the country tons upon tons of phosphogypsum, a waste by-product of fertilizer production from phosphate rock, which is known to contain radioactive elements,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We also find the e-waste shipment equally detestable,” he added.

“We have yet to complete the re-exportation to South Korea of contaminated plastic waste stranded in Misamis Oriental and it seems that a new controversy involving these recent toxic shipments is looming,” he lamented.

“The decisive action taken by the PCG, NBI and BOC operatives amid intensified efforts to prevent hazardous waste exports to the Philippines must be supported.  We hope they will hold their ground and get the toxic shipments out of the country as soon as possible,” he said.

These incidents should prompt the government into imposing a definite ban on the importation of hazardous waste and other wastes, and into ratifying without delay the Basel Ban Amendment  prohibiting the export of hazardous wastes, including e-waste, from developed to developing countries for all reasons, including recycling.  The said amendment to the Basel Convention will enter into force on December 5, 2019.

Dizon had earlier written to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) last November 12 to alert the agencies about the phosphogypsum shipments which the group learned about through an e-mail it got from an informant.

“As the country’s principal regulatory and law enforcement bodies in charge of controlling and preventing hazardous waste trade, we request both the EMB and the BOC to jointly investigate this matter,” he said.

As per news report published at the PCG website, combined PCG-NBI operatives intercepted the Liberian-flagged merchant ship from the Port of Gwangyang at the Cabangan Wharf in the municipality of Cabangan, province of Zambales.

The ship crew members and crane operators were already unloading the cargoes at the wharf when the law enforcers arrived.

Unable to present the proper permits, the PCG-NBI operatives ordered the ship master to stop unloading the cargo  citing violations of Republic Act 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, and Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The ship master, crew, and crane operators were subsequently arrested and brought to NBI Headquarters in Manila for proper custody and further investigation.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): “Phosphogypsum, a waste product from manufacturing fertilizer, emits radon, a radioactive gas.”

“It also contains the radioactive elements uranium, thorium and radium,” the EPA said, noting that “because the wastes are concentrated, phosphogypsum is more radioactive than the original phosphate rock.”