21 May 2019

Environmental Activists Step Up Protest over Unreturned Garbage from Canada

Now is the time to ship back to Canada their rotting garbage in the Philippines, no ifs or buts about it.

Environmental justice activists belonging to the waste and pollution watch group EcoWaste Coalition affirmed this message as they stage a die-in protest outside the Canadian Embassy in Makati City to push the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to speed up the removal of their garbage out of Manila and Subic Ports.

Dozens of activists laid down on the traffic island along Buendia Avenue a week after the Canadian government failed to meet Duterte government's May 15 ultimatum for the re-export of 69 container vans of garbage to their origin in the port of Vancouver.

Some of the protesters held up a banner reading “Canada, comply with the Basel Convention, take back your garbage now.”

The latest protest action at the Canadian foreign mission came on the heels of the unprecedented decision by the Philippine government to maintain diminished diplomatic presence in Canada over the garbage dispute that saw Ambassador Petronila Garcia and her consuls general being recalled.

“We are here again to ask the Canadian government to take back their garbage now to avert further escalation of conflict between Manila and Ottawa due to the unreturned garbage.  To restore the two countries’ good bilateral relations, Canada has to act fast on its promise to retake the illegal waste shipments,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We do not want to see our labor attachés in Toronto and Vancouver being recalled as well because of Canada’s failure to re-import their garbage,” she added.

Last Saturday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he was mulling over the possibility of also withdrawing officials in charge of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Canada because of the unresolved dumping issue.

“If Canada truly values its deep and longstanding relationship with the Philippines, they should have made immediate and high priority arrangements to take their garbage home in keeping with their obligations under the Basel Convention,” Lucero asserted.  

“For over five years, Canada has failed to assume responsibility for the illegally traded wastes and unfairly put the burden of dealing with the Canadian generated wastes on the Philippine government,” she pointed out.

Article 9 of the Basel Convention imposes an obligation on the State of export, in this case Canada, to ensure the return of wastes where the export of the wastes is deemed to constitute “illegal traffic”. 

To prevent the recurrence of illegal waste trafficking, the EcoWaste Coalition called on both the governments of Canada and the Philippines to rapidly ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.

This amendment to the Basel Convention, which has yet to enter into force, prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling.

The group also reiterated its call on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to revise current regulations to stop waste imports into the Philippines.

To recall, 103 container vans falsely declared to contain recyclable homogenous plastic scraps arrived In 2013 and 2014 at the port of Manila from the port of Vancouver.  The shipments were sent by Chronic Inc. based in Ontario and were consigned to Chronic Plastics and Live Green Enterprises in the Philippines.

Inspections conducted by the authorities found plastics and household residuals, used adult diapers, and electronic discards in the shipments.

Thirty-four of the 103 containers have been disposed of locally, and only 69 containers are to be shipped back to Canada.   

Of the 69 containers remaining, two are at the Manila International Container Terminal  and 67 are at the Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation, according to the BOC 


20 May 2019

Brigada Eskwela 2019: Lead Safe Paints for Healthy Schools

As the annual Brigada Eskwela goes in full blast starting today, participating schools are reminded to be mindful of the government's environmental and health policies aimed at promoting a conducive learning environment for children.

At the launch of the bayanihan-inspired Brigada Eskwela, the Balingasa Elementary School in Quezon City teamed up with Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc. (manufacturer of PureCoat Premium Wondercryl Pure Acrylic Latex Semi Gloss Paint) and the EcoWaste Coalition (an environmental organization) to  promote compliance to policy issuances by the Department of Education (DepEd) in relation to paint and waste.

“With the active support of our parents, teachers, and students, as well as partners in the private and public sectors, we hope to make our Brigada Eskwela this year more eco-friendly with the use of lead safe paints and the observance of ecological waste management in line with DepEd policies," said Nancy Annie de la Paz, Principal, Balingasa Elementary School.

Department Order No. 4, Series of 2017 requires the “mandatory use of lead safe paints in schools,” while Department Order No. 64, also issued in 2017, specifies the minimum performance standards and specifications for DepEd school buildings, including “paint materials must be independently certified  lead safe paints/coatings.”

Department Order No. 5, Series of 2014, also enjoins schools, among other things, to conduct waste prevention and reduction activities such as enforcing the ban on littering and burning of trash consistent with Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“We are honored that our entire industrial paint lines, namely Guilder and Illinois brands are the first industrial paint brands in the Philippines to be certified as lead safe.  On top of this, our Purecoat Premium Architectural Latex paints are certified lead safe as well.  PureCoat does not pose any hazardous effects to our health. Thus it can be safely used to turn schools, homes and other places into more attractive spaces. Indeed, sa PureCoat, maganda ang bahay, makulay ang buhay!”, remarked Michael Sy, President, Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc.  

Sycwin recently obtained Lead Safe Paint® certification following independentassessment by US-based SCS Global Services for all 10 of its product brands, namely, PureCoat Premium, Guilder, WeatherGard, PureCoat Advance,  Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois, Guilder, Delaware, and Alabama.

“The mandatory use of lead safe paints in schools has to be strictly observed to ensure a healthy environment where children can study, discover their potentials and hone their skills and talents.  We need to keep our schools lead safe as lead is particularly dangerous to the developing brains of children," said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“There is no known safe level of lead exposure. Even low levels of lead exposure may cause lifetime health issues such as learning disabilities, impaired  language skills, reduced intelligence quotient (IQ) and behavioral problems.  Health risks to children, pregnant women and workers can be prevented by making and using lead safe paints," added Jeiel Guarino, Lead Paint Campaigner of  IPEN, a global NGO network that counts on the EcoWaste Coalition among its members.

The compulsory use of paints without added lead, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded, is also directed by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2018-26 on the “Mandatory Use of Lead Safe Paints by LGUs,” as well as Quezon City Ordinance 2739-2018, which requires the mandatory procurement and use of certified lead safe paints including enamels, glazes, lacquers, primers, stains, varnishes and other surface coatings for the city government-funded projects

To further ensure that the Brigada Eskwela is pollution- free, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed the importance of observing basic practices in ecological solid waste management.

“We urge Brigada Eskwela participants to be on the guard against improper disposal of waste resulting from the weeklong cleanup activities.  Please refrain from mixing discards and from dumping and burning them as these are against DepEd’s policy and R.A. 9003,” stated Dizon.


19 May 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Government to Form Vinegar Safety Committee in Light of PNRI’s Study Showing 8 out of 10 Vinegar Brands as “Fake”

An environmental and health group urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Health (DoH) to form a “Vinegar Safety Committee” in light of a government study showing eight of 10 vinegar brands as “fake” and made from synthetic instead of natural sources.

The EcoWaste Coalition invoked Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013, in justifying the formation of the “Vinegar Safety Committee” in order to assure the public that “fake” vinegar products are immediately pulled out from store shelves and not consumed.

The proposal was made following studies on over 360 vinegar samples  by researchers at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology, that found 8 out of 10 samples, using  isotope-based analytical techniques,  are made from synthetic acetic acid. 

Acetic acid, according to its material safety data sheet, "is highly corrosive to the skin and eyes and can also be damaging to the internal organs if ingested or in the case of vapor inhalation."

“Vinegar is undoubtedly a favorite Filipino condiment for dips, sauces and dishes or as a preservative for pickled fruits and vegetables.  It’s very important for the government and the food industry to assure consumers that vinegar sold in the market is safe from substances that can make them sick,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“In line with the goals of RA 10611, we urge lead agencies in charge of ensuring food safety to create a Vinegar Safety Committee to address the shocking findings of PNRI studies,” Dizon said.   

“While new standards for vinegar are being developed, we find it necessary for the DOH through the Food and Drug Administration to issue a public health warning and to cause the removal from the market of ‘fake’ vinegar products that pose direct risk to human health,” he added.

The group’s suggested action echoes the position of DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol who earlier suggested through his recent Facebook post that “a market advisory should be issued and the brands using acetic acid must be pulled out of the market.

The requested action, the EcoWaste Coalition said, will promote “food safety,” which, according to RA 10611, refers to the assurance that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared or eaten according to its intended use.

Section 37 of RA 10611 prohibits the production, importation, distribution and sale of food products not in conformity with food quality or safety standard, including adulterated, misbranded, mislabeled and falsely advertised food products.






Link to DA Sec. 
Pinol's FB post: 

18 May 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for Eco-Friendly Brigada Eskwela to Lessen Trash and Pollution

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watch group, reminded participants of the week-long Brigada Eskwela starting May 20 to ensure that school cleanup, repair and renovation activities are done in an eco-friendly manner.

“We laud the yearly conduct of the DepEd-led Brigada Eskwela, which is an excellent expression of the timeless Filipino bayanihan spirit,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As stakeholders partake in this outstanding voluntary effort, we urge them to avoid practices that tend to generate more trash and pollution such as mixed waste disposal, open burning and dumping, and the use of leaded paints and hazardous cleaning agents,” he said.

The group also asked poll winners, as well as losers, to "quietly" help in the Brigada Eskwela as a way of thanking the public for their support in the recently concluded midterm elections.

“In lieu of post-election ‘thank you’ tarpaulins, we invite well-meaning politicians to join, without fanfare, school cleanup activities or donate Brigada Eskwela essentials such as brooms and broomsticks, dust pans, rags, soaps, buckets, non-mercury LED lamps, and lead-safe paints,” Dizon said.

Dizon cited the need to observe DepEd D.O. 05, series of 2014, which states, among other provisions,  that “every school shall practice waste management principles, such as (waste) minimization, specifically resource conservation and recovery, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, reuse and composting, in order to promote environmental awareness and action.”

To encourage adherence to the said DepEd regulation, the EcoWaste Coalition offered the following eco-tips, which are also in line with R.A. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act), R.A. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Act),  R.A. 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act), DENR A.O. 2013-24 (Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds), DILG Memorandum Circular 2018-26 (Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints by LGUs), DepEd D.O. 04-2017 (Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools) and DepEd D.O. 73-2010 (Smoking Ban in Public Schools):

1.  Observe the proper segregation of discards at source to facilitate their recycling or composting, and to minimize the volume of garbage for disposal.

2.  Do not set trash on fire to prevent the generation of environmental pollutants such as fine particles, heavy metals and dioxins.

3.  Compost biodegradable discards such as yard trimmings to produce natural fertilizer or soil enhancer for the school garden.

4.  Clean up the school’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), also known as Ecology Center, including the containers or segregators for properly-labeled recyclable and compostable discards.

5.  Handle busted fluorescent lamps with care to prevent mercury spill; do not mix such lamps with ordinary trash, and properly store and dispose of them as hazardous waste.

6.  Choose safer cleaning agents and refrain from using hazardous substances that are corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract such as oxalic and muriatic acid.

7.  Use only certified lead-safe paints for school interiors, exteriors, furniture and fixtures, gymnasium, play equipment and other school amenities.

8.  Keep children and pregnant women out of the work area (lead is very hazardous to developing fetuses).

9.  Refrain from dry sanding or dry scraping painted surfaces that might contain lead so as not to disperse lead dust into the surroundings.

10.  Clean up paint chips immediately.

11.  Use moist mop or rag to rid floors, windows, window frames and sills, chairs and tables and other surfaces of dust, and wash it thoroughly after use.

12. Wash hands properly with soap and water before meals and after the work is done.

13. After a repainting job, change clothes before going home, set aside in a sealed reusable bag and wash separately.

14.  Clean or remove shoes and slippers before entering your home to avoid bringing in soil that may contain lead into the house.

15.  Keep the school premises smoke-free by not smoking or vaping.

“The observance of these eco-tips will help ensure a waste-free and toxics-free Brigada Eskwela for the benefit of the entire school community and the environment,” Dizon said.




EcoWaste Coalition Files FOI Request to Know How Some of the Canadian Wastes Were Disposed Of Locally

The environmental health and justice group EcoWaste Coalition has filed a request under the government’s Freedom of Information program to obtain facts related to the local disposal of eight of the 103 containers of illegal garbage shipments from Canada.

Aileen Lucero, the group’s national coordinator, yesterday filed the request with tracking no: #BOC-661823304998 after getting a confirmation from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) that 34 of the 103 containers have already been disposed of locally, and only 69 containers will be shipped back to Canada.   

BOC Spokesperson Atty. Erastus Sandino Austria told the EcoWaste Coalition that 67 of the remaining containers are sitting at the Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation (SBITC) and the other two are at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT).

To recall, wastes from 26 of the 103 containers were unloaded between June-July 2015 at the landfill operated  by the Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. (MCWMC)  in Kalangitan, Capas, Tarlac until the provincial government halted it.

MCWMC complied with the provincial order stopping further disposal of wastes from Canada and returned to the BOC the eight containers that arrived in the facility while the content of the 26 containers were being unloaded.

To stop foreign waste disposal in the province, the Tarlac Provincial Board adopted Resolution No. 057-2015 banning the dumping of any garbage from overseas at the Kalangitan landfill and anywhere  in Tarlac.

“We are really curious as to where the wastes from the eight containers went after top officials of Tarlac, as well as Bulacan, objected to the dumping of Canadian wastes in landfills operating in their provinces.  Were they buried or, God forbid, burned ?,” asked Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“We therefore request  the BOC, in line with Executive Order 2, series of 2016, to disclose records pertaining to the local disposal of the eight containers of Canadian garbage.  Full disclosure of the information will help clear the air.  The people have the right to know,” she said.

EO 2, s. 2016, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3, 2016, is the enabling order that operationalizes the Freedom of Information in the Executive Branch of the government in line with the state policies to full disclosure and transparency in public service.





15 May 2019

“If the Canadian wastes will not leave our ports today, when?” (Group Disappointed with Non-Compliance to the May 15 Deadline for the Re-Export of Canadian Garbage)

The waste and pollution watch group EcoWaste Coalition has expressed its gross disappointment over the non-departure today of the rotting Canadian wastes in 69 container vans that have been sitting in Manila and Subic ports for about six years.

“We are grossly disappointed that the illegal garbage imports from Canada have yet to take their trip back home,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  “If the Canadian wastes will not leave our ports today, when?”

“We remain hopeful that this prolonged garbage feud will be over soon as this is what the chief executive and the entire nation want,” she said.

To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte on April 23 chastised Canada for its inaction and threatened “war” against the North American country for the nearly 2,450 tons of mostly residual garbage illegally shipped to the Philippines from 2013 to 2104 in violation of the Basel Convention.

“We are counting on Canada’s full cooperation in fulfillment of its obligations under the Basel Convention to take back the illegal traffic wastes  that were shipped from the  Port of Vancouver,” she added.

According to the Department of Finance, “bureaucratic red tape in the Canadian government has slowed down the process of re-exporting the trash back to their country.”

“As the re-export of the Canadian garbage is no ordinary transaction that can be delayed, we wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appeal for the expedited processing of the import permits,” said Lucero.

“We appeal to your government to give priority consideration to the processing of the required documents such as the import permits,” wrote Lucero to Trudeau last May 7.

“The removal of your wastes in our land will put this long standing dumping controversy to a close, and open up a new chapter in our nations' bilateral relations,” she told Trudeau.

On May 10, in response to the EcoWaste Coalition’s letter, M. Bredeson, Executive Correspondence Officer for the Prime Minister’s Office, said: “Please be assured that your comments have been carefully noted. As your email has also been sent to the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I am certain that she will have appreciated receiving this information.”

As soon as the re-export date has been confirmed, the EcoWaste Coalition will organize a send-off activity themed "Never Again" to celebrate what it considers as a people's victory for the rule of law and environmental justice.


14 May 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Clean-up and Upcycling of Election Campaign Materials

THINK BEFORE YOU THROW:  To reduce the volume of post-election discards requiring disposal, the EcoWaste Coalition encourages candidates, parties and the general public to find innovative uses for used campaign materials such as leaflets, posters and sample ballots instead of burning or dumping them, which can only contribute to environmental pollution.

Now that the ballots have been cast, a waste and pollution watch urged those who ran for elective posts as well as the general public to conduct post-election cleanup and upcycling activities.

"Regardless of the outcome of your election bid, we appeal to all candidates and parties to take down your campaign materials without delay.  Kabit, sabit o dikit mo, tanggal mo,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordination.

“Sort the dismantled campaign materials and upcycle them as much as possible,” she suggested. 

“Upcycling, or the creative reuse of discards, is a practical way of saving resources from being burned or sent to the dumps and landfills for disposal,” she added.

Decreased garbage volume, lower disposal cost, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, conservation of resources, cleaner surroundings and enhanced environmental awareness are some of the benefits of upcycling election campaign materials, according to the EcoWaste Coalition.  

In an attempt to discourage indiscriminate disposal and encourage upcycling, the EcoWaste Coalition today showed the many functional uses of spent election propaganda articles such as leaflets, posters and sample ballots.

At an event held at the MMDA temporary holding area for dismantled campaign materials under the Santolan-EDSA flyover, bagmaker Lolita Calusayan, "Junk Not" advocate Wilhemina Garcia, informal recyclers from Capulong, Manila and the EcoWaste staff displayed some of the easy to make upcycled items.

Paper-based campaign materials were repurposed as bookmarks, envelopes, folders, mirror or photo frames, drawing pads, memo pads, name plates, scrap books and teaching aids such as flash cards and “tell the time” clock.

Polyethylene plastic posters were reused as covering for books and notebooks.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic tarpaulins were converted into different bags such as ball bag, bean bag, body bag, carry bag, clutch bag, delivery bag, shoe bag, shopping bag, and string bag.  It's even possible to make pencil or mobile phone cases out of tarps.

The group noted that tarpaulins can also be reused as upholstery material, as a protection against rain or sunlight for vehicles, and as awnings for homes and stores.

The group further reminded that plastic PVC tarpaulins should only be reused for non-food and non-child applications.

As these tarps may contain toxic additives such as cadmium and lead, which may leach and contaminate the food or expose children to chemical hazards, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested that tarps should only be reused for non-food and non-child uses.

To prevent and reduce trash in future elections, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to upgrade existing rules to ensure the judicious use of resources and eliminate the use of materials that are toxic and are difficult to reuse or recycle. 

"There is also a need to responsibilize candidates and parties in the mandatory removal and environmentally sound management of campaign materials right after election," Lucero said.

"COMELEC and deputized agencies have to strictly enforce the ban on the distribution of sample ballots on polling day, which only contributes to the trashing of polling stations," she said

"Like the reported incidents of vote buying, littering has again tainted the democratic exercise of choosing our political leaders.  Next time, our citizens should come prepared with their own voting kodigo to render sample ballots irrelevant and avoid turning polling places into dumpsites," she said.


13 May 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Slams the Trashing of Polling Centers with Sample Ballots

"We are deeply saddened by the unrestrained distribution of sample ballots near polling places as if the campaign period is not yet over. This practice has resulted to widespread littering in most polling centers.  The littering of sample ballots is  a blatant violation of local and national environmental laws, particularly RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits and penalizes this offense. Like the reported incidents of vote buying, littering has again tainted the democratic exercise of choosing our political leaders. Next time, our citizens should come prepared with their own voting kodigo to render sample ballots irrelevant.  Next time, the authorities should strictly enforce our electoral and environmental laws to stop littering on polling day," observed Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.