18 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes DENR's Ban on Arsenic in Wood Preservatives

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health organization, welcomed the promulgation of a new Chemical Control Order (CCO) that will, among other things, ban wood preservatives containing arsenic, a highly toxic chemical.

On November 8, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu promulgated Administrative Order 2019-17, which seeks to “reduce the risk of exposure to human health and the environment of arsenic and arsenic compounds used in industrial processes” through a CCO.

A CCO is a policy issuance by the DENR for chemicals that the agency has “determined to be regulated, phased out or banned due to the serious risks they pose to public health, workplace and the environment.”

“We laud the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau for completing the participatory processes that led to the adoption of the CCO on arsenic, which is among the top 10 chemicals of major public health concern as per the World Health Organization (WHO),” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“This CCO is the latest chemical policy directive by the department following the groundbreaking CCO banning lead in paint and other applications in 2013,” he noted. 

According to the WHO, the intake of the acutely toxic inorganic arsenic over a long period of time can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning or arsenicosis. “Effects, which can take years to develop depending on the level of exposure, include skin lesions, peripheral neuropathy, gastrointestinal symptoms, diabetes, renal system effects, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” the WHO said.

The EcoWaste Coalition, assisted by technical and scientific experts from the Philippines and abroad,  submitted a position paper in February 2017 and specifically lobbied for the prohibition on arsenic-containing pesticides for treating wood.

In pushing for a ban on wood preservatives containing arsenic, the group cited studies in the US suggesting that arsenic in arsenic-treated wood such as those used in playground poses potential health risks to children as the arsenic can end up on children's hands and mouths.

As noted by the US National Center for Healthy Housing, “arsenic can leach to the surface of the treated wood, becoming accessible for absorption through exposed hands and skin touching the wood surface and, especially in the case of children, ingestion through normal hand-to-mouth behavior.”

Under the European Union’s REACH (Registration,Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), “arsenic compounds shall not be used in the preservation of wood. Furthermore, wood so treated shall not be placed on the market.”
Aside from wood preservatives, the CCO, which will take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation, will likewise ban the use of arsenic and its compounds in the production of fertilizers, pesticides and chemical weapons.

According to the website of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), copper acetoarsenite is already banned as per FPA Circular No. 4, series of 1989, while arsenic trioxide is restricted for use by accredited wood treatment and wood preserving facilities.

Toward an effective enforcement of the ban on arsenic-containing wood preservatives, the EcoWaste Coalition sees the need for a clear-cut phase-out of wood treatment and preservation products containing arsenic, especially those that pose the highest exposure risk to children.

“The removal of arsenic-containing products in the market will help in preventing the release of arsenic during manufacture, installation, use and disposal of arsenic-treated wood,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Wood used by children, households and schools does not need to be toxic,” the group said.








16 November 2019

QC Barangay Teams Up with DENR-EMB to Collect E-Waste

To promote the environmentally sound management of broken or discarded electrical and electronic equipment, Barangay West Triangle in Quezon City today held an e-waste collection event in collaboration with the national environmental authorities.

The e-waste collection event was carried out under the auspices of the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau  (DENR-EMB) and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the  United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Among the items collected were unwanted TV sets with plastic casings and cathode ray tubes (CRTs), computers, laptops, appliances and assorted e-gadgets such as cellphones and tablets brought by community residents.

“We have embarked on this timely activity to assist our constituents in managing their e-wastes in a way that will not pollute our surroundings and endanger people’s health,” said Elmer Timothy Ligon, Chairperson, Barangay West Triangle.

“This effort, undertaken with assistance from the DENR-EMB and the EcoWaste Coalition, hopes to instill among our residents that we could not simply throw e-waste in regular trash bin because of the many hazardous chemicals they contain,” he said.   

“In line with Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and the Quezon City Environment Code, e-waste is required to be separated from domestic waste or the refuse generated by a household,” explained Ka Timmy as he is fondly called.

After documenting the items received, the e-waste collected will be sent to the Integrated Recycling Industries. Inc., a government-accredited  facility, in Laguna for proper management.

According to the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” website, “e-waste, also referred to as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), if improperly managed, such as through improper dismantling, burning or disposal can result in the release of harmful chemicals into the environment, among which is Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs).”

“Once in the environment, PBDEs can enter the body of living things by way of inhalation of contaminated air or by ingestion of contaminated food, such as fish,” it explained.

PBDEs from the mother’s body can also be transferred to the infant through the breastmilk, noting however that breastmilk is still best and breastfeeding provides tremendous benefits to both mother and child.

PBDEs are a class of extremely toxic chemicals targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) of which the Philippines is a state party.  




11 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Calls Out E-Commerce Sites for Offering Mercury-Containing Cosmetics as 11.11 Shopping Spree Gets Into Full Swing

As the 11.11 shopping bonanza gets underway today, a non-profit environmental and health watchdog group urged e-commerce platforms to immediately act against the illicit sale of cosmetics banned by the health authorities for containing mercury, a potent neurotoxin.

The EcoWaste Coalition called out online shopping giants Lazada and Shopee for the proliferation of advertisements by third party dealers of skin whitening products deemed “hazardous to health” due to their high mercury content.

“We are outraged by the unrestricted online sale of mercury-contaminated products that are illegal to sell in the Philippines and the ASEAN region for containing mercury above the trace amount limit of 1 part per million (ppm),” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Removing these ads for health-damaging products and sending a strong warning against their dealers are the least that online shopping sites can do to protect their customers,” he said.

The group further urged online shoppers to exercise necessary precaution and to reject “poison cosmetics” that can put their health at grave risk of mercury poisoning.

“We advise online shoppers not to spend a peso for skin whitening cosmetics containing chemical poisons such as mercury that can cause serious health problems,” Dizon said.

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,” adding 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.”

WHO lists mercury among the “10 chemicals of major public health concern.”

Among the products being offered for sale by third party sellers at Lazada.ph are Ailke, Goree and S’Zitang skin whitening cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition reported.

The FDA has issued several public health warnings from 2010 to 2018 against seven S’Zitang products. As per FDA Advisory 2018-183,  “ S’Zitang 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set” was tested and found to contain toxic mercury levels above 1 ppm.

“Ailke Perfect Salvation Rosy Whitening A & B Cream” was among the 20 skin whitening products listed by the FDA in Advisory 2012-009 that were found to be “imminently injurious, unsafe or dangerous” for containing mercury in excess of the 1 ppm limit.

FDA Advisory No. 2017-289 banned two variants of Goree skin whitening cosmetics “for containing toxic mercury levels beyond the one part per million (ppm) maximum limit.”

At Shopee.ph, the EcoWaste Coalition found an advertisement for a banned “Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream.”

Skin whitening creams with mercury content above 1 ppm are among the mercury-added products targeted for global phase-out by 2020.

To protect public health and the environment, the Philippine government, with the participation of civil society groups like the EcoWaste Coalition, has developed and launched a "National Action Plan for the Phase-Out of Mercury Added Products and the Management of the Associated Mercury-Containing Wastes."




Here are some of the inappropriate advertisements for mercury-laden skin whitening products found by the EcoWaste at the Lazada and Shopee online stores before 12:00 noon today :































08 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Congressional Leaders to Prioritize Plastic Pollution Prevention Bills Following PRRD’s Pronouncement

The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition urged the leadership in both houses of Congress to prioritize the consideration of pending plastic pollution prevention bills.

The group’s latest push for legislative action to prevent and reduce plastic pollution came on the heels of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s recent pronouncement regarding the possibility of banning plastics in the country.

At the 43rd Cabinet meeting last November 6, the chief executive floated the idea of banning the use of plastics as the issue of environment and climate change resiliency was discussed.

“Banning plastics, particularly single-use plastics or SUPs, will have a tremendous impact on the country’s humongous waste production estimated at over 40,000 tons per day of which a huge portion is comprised of plastic residuals,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Banning SUPs will help in curbing the chemicals and plastics choking our fragile environment,” he said.

SUPs are plastic-based materials created to be used once before they are disposed of or recycled such as bottles, cutlery, cups, sachets, stirrers, straws, and the omnipresent plastic bags and polystyrene containers or Styrofoam.

 “Banning SUPs will mean less throw-away plastics being produced, consumed and disposed of, less fossil fuels used and less greenhouse gases emitted, less plastic waste dumped or incinerated, and less plastic spilling into our water bodies and harming aquatic life,” said Benosa.

Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, emphasized the importance of the 18th Congress enacting a national ban on SUPs to address the plastic pollution crisis.

“Such a law is needed to stimulate and strengthen actions by local government units to address the menace of disposable plastics.  Aside from targeting SUPs for phase-out within a reasonable timeframe, the law should promote and incentivize the shift to ecological alternatives, and  encourage business and industry to invest in sustainable product packaging and delivery systems,” she said.

Citing a 2018 UN report on SUPs, the EcoWaste Coalition identified some of the environmental problems associated with SUPs, including plastic bags clogging waterways and exacerbating natural disasters, plastics being ingested by marine animals who mistake them for food, and toxic emissions from the burning of plastic wastes.

According to the said report, “Styrofoam products, which contain carcinogenic chemicals like styrene and benzene, are highly toxic if ingested, damaging the nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs. The toxins in Styrofoam containers can leach into food and drinks.” 

Another report released in February 2019 titled “Plastic & Health: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet“ said that “roughly two-thirds of all plastic ever produced has been released into the environment and remains there in some form—as debris in the oceans, as micro- or nanoparticles in air and agricultural soils, as microfibers in water supplies, or as microparticles in the human body.”

Plastic “slowly fragments into smaller particles where they contaminate the air, water, and soil, accumulate in food chains, and release toxic additives or concentrate additional toxic chemicals in the environment, making them bioavailable again,” the report said.



06 November 2019

Group Cites PRRD’s Strong Stance vs Foreign Waste Importation, Urges President to Formalize Policy to Protect PH from Waste Trade

The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition lauded President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s unequivocal position against foreign waste dumping into the Philippines and Southeast Asia as it urged the chief executive to formalize such stance into a robust policy.

On Monday, Duterte, speaking at a Special Lunch on Sustainable Development held on the fringe of the 35th ASEAN Summit hosted by Thailand, scored developed countries for shipping garbage marked as “recyclables” to Asian countries, particularly to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

“The president has repeatedly deplored the dumping of hazardous waste, including contaminated plastic scraps misrepresented as ‘recyclables,’ from developed countries as an affront to the dignity and sovereignty of our nation,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“At the recent meeting in Nonthaburi, the president again demonstrated his resolute opposition against such act which is inimical to the national interest,” she said.

To provide the Philippines with the best legal protection against illegal export of waste or waste trafficking, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Duterte government to adopt a national waste import ban, and to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.

“A national waste import ban will send a strong and unambiguous message out there that we, Filipinos, do not want other people’s rubbish --- from all countries --- and that those who continue to treat our country as a dumping ground will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Lucero said.

“Ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, which will enter into force on December 5, 2019, will reinforce our national defense against hazardous waste exports from developed countries who have the resources and technologies to deal with their wastes at the point of generation in an environmentally-sound manner,” she said.   

Described as  “the world’s most significant instrument for environmental justice,” the Basel Ban Amendment is an agreement adopted by Basel Convention Parties to prohibit the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union (EU), and Liechtenstein from exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries or countries with economies in transition. 

"In Southeast Asia, so far only Indonesia and Malaysia will be protected from hazardous waste exports under the Basel Ban Amendment," said Dr. Joe DiGangi, Senior Science and Technical Adviser of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), of which the EcoWaste Coalition is a part of.  "The Philippines and its neighbors should join Indonesia and Malaysia in ratifying the amendment to avoid becoming new targets for hazardous waste dumping."

According to a fact sheet jointly prepared by the Basel Action Network and IPEN, ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment at the earliest possible date will “protect human health and the environment and prevent environmental injustice, in particular in developing and transition countries."

Developing and transition countries that have not yet ratified the Basel Ban Amendment, according to the said fact sheet, will be inadvertently sending a message to developed countries that says: “We wish to retain the option of a developed country exporting hazardous waste to us, even when the Basel Convention, which we are a Party to, has been changed to forbid this type of trade.”

While the Philippines has signed the Basel Convention in 1989 and ratified it 1993, it has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.

A cost-benefit study commissioned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has determined that the Philippines has the capacity to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment based on net positive assessment.



03 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Cites BOC-10 and MisOr Government Officials for Concerted Action to Speed Up Re-Export of Illegal South Korean Trash

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog group based in Quezon City, has commended the resolute action by the officials of the province of Misamis Oriental and Bureau of Customs – Region 10 to expedite the re-export of over 5,000 tons of illegal waste shipments from South Korea to their origin.

“Despite the understandable delay, we welcome the assurance made by the BOC-Region 10 that the remaining trash from South Korea in MisOr would be returned to their source before the year ends.  The people of Mindanao and the rest of the nation are ardently anticipating the complete reshipment of these misdeclared waste imports to the Port of Pyeongtaek,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.    

“We recognize the commendable assistance extended by the offices of Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano and Rep. Juliette Uy, which provided the jumbo bags for the pre-requisite repacking of the stranded trash at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan. Without these specialty bags, the transfer of the wastes to the container vans would not be possible,” she pointed out.

The 4,000 tonner bags donated by Emano and the 1,000 bags donated by Uy were turned over to BOC-10 District Collector John Simon at a ceremony held last week at the customs office in Cagayan de Oro City.

“We also laud the provincial government for allocating the necessary budget to pay for the personnel and the equipment for the cleanup of the storage site in Tagoloan, including portion of it that caught fire last August,” added.

The concerted action by the local government, customs and environmental authorities reflects their commitment to protect the people, their health and their environment from the negative impacts of foreign waste dumping, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The group had earlier cited the firm position of customs, environmental and local government officials to have the unlawful waste shipments from South Korea re-exported, citing the Basel Convention which imposes an obligation on the State of Export to ensure the return of wastes deemed to constitute “illegal traffic.”

“We hope the re-export of the illegal waste cargoes from South Korea will commence soon or get completed by December 5, which is the day when the Basel Ban Amendment will enter into force,” said Lucero.

The Basel Ban Amendment prohibits the export of hazardous wastes for all reasons, including recycling, from rich countries belonging to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Union (EU) and Liechtenstein to developing countries like the Philippines.

The Duterte administration has yet to ratify the said amendment to the Basel Convention.    

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, “ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment and further prohibiting the export of all wastes to the Philippines will be our best legal protection against waste trafficking."


02 November 2019

Undas 2019: The mess the day after

  Garbage abandoned by visitors at the Bagbag Public Cemetery piles up on All Souls' Day, which has been decried by the EcoWaste Coalition as a blatant form of disrespect to both the living and the dead and to Mother Earth, too.

EcoWaste Coalition Says Minimal to Intense Littering in Cemeteries Persists (Group Calls Out ‘Trashers of the Tombs,’ Commends Others for Not Leaving Litter Behind)

 Caloocan Public Cemetery
 Manila Memorial Park (Parañaque City), Columbarium area
 Manila Memorial Park (Parañaque City)
 Manila South Cemetery, Makati City
 San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery, Mandaluyong City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, Quezon City
 Baesa Cemetery, Quezon City
Manila North Cemetery

The EcoWaste Coalition, a green advocacy group for a zero waste and toxics-free society, applauded cemetery visitors for not leaving trash on gravesites even as it called out the “trashers of the tombs” --- or those who leave their garbage behind --- for disrespecting the dead.

“We laud caring Filipinos for leaving flowers and prayers - not trash - at the graves of their dearly departed relatives and friends.  This should be the rule rather than the exception as millions gather every year in cemeteries to remember and pray for them,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope the ‘trashers of the tombs’ will make amends by not leaving their rubbish behind next time around.  By keeping the graveyards clean, we show our utmost respect to the dead and the living and Mother Earth, too,” he added.

According to field reports received from the group’s Basura Patrollers, minimal to intense littering was observed in 17 cemeteries in Caloocan, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasay, Quezon and San Juan Cities, as well as in Legazpi City in the Bicol Region.

The St. John Memorial Park-San Juan City Cemetery, the Aglipay Cemetery in Marikina City, the Garden of Life-Mandaluyong City Cemetery, Loyola Memorial Park in Parañaque City,  and the Bicol Memorial Park in Legazpi City were observed to be litter-free or darn near thanks to the cooperation of disciplined visitors.  While nearly spotless, the group found garbage dumped on a vacant lot inside the San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery in Mandaluyong City.

Bagbag Public Cemetery stuck out as the most littered burial ground in Metro Manila with garbage strewn all over the place.  Littering in this cemetery in Quezon City has been characterized as “intense” with visitors literally walking over or sitting next to garbage.

With the ban on vendors in place, the EcoWaste Coalition observed visible reduction of food packaging waste inside the Manila North and South Cemeteries.  However, some visitors simply abandoned their discards such as heaping up bags of trash with no sense of shame at the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the main road of Manila North Cemetery, the group lamented.

The situation in private cemeteries was similarly wasteful with bins overflowing with discards, especially single-use paper and plastic packaging from food concessionaires, a common sight at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque and Quezon Cities.  While alcoholic drinks are banned, some visitors sneaked some canned beers through the tight security of Manila Memorial Park (Parañaque) leaving the empty cans at the Columbarium area.

While critical of the “trashers of the tombs,” the EcoWaste Coalition complimented people for picking up recyclables from garbage bins and mounds, especially the roving members of the informal waste sector and the Tzu Chi volunteers.

The group also lauded the hundreds of personnel deployed by the various city governments, the Metro Manila Development Authority, and the management of public and private cemeteries for working around the clock to keep the gravesites clean and the visitors safe from dirt and harm.

To prevent the generation of Undas garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition called on all local government units and cemetery administrators to enforce good practices in waste prevention and reduction as laid out in their respective Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Plans.

"The garbage situation in all cemeteries will further improve next year if preventive measures are effectively carried out, including enjoining all visitors to bring their discards home and declaring cemeteries as plastic-free zone, especially for single-use plastics such as plastic carry bags, plates, cups, cutlery, drinking bottles, straws, stirrers and Styrofoam containers," the EcoWaste Coalition said.


31 October 2019

Green Groups Urge Undas Travelers and Cemetery Visitors to Bring Water in Reusable Containers instead of Buying Water in Plastic Bottles

 Discarded disposable plastic water bottles.
 Receptacle for empty plastic bottles at new La Loma Catholic Cemetery.
Examples of reusable water containers.

In a bid to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bottles, two zero waste advocacy groups urged those embarking on their Undas journey and those visiting the tombs of their deceased relatives to bring their own water in reusable containers.

Through a joint statement, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) urged the public to go for reusable water containers, which can be re-used countless times, to curb the mounting plastic waste that is polluting the environment, including the oceans.

“Opting for water in reusable containers instead of throw-away plastic bottles, which are petrochemical products, will be hugely beneficial for the environment and the climate,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, MEF.

“As our nation and the entire planet wrestle with the negative impacts of chemical and plastic pollution and climate change, we urge everyone to go for reusable containers and fill them with clean tap water or, if needed, with boiled or filtered water,” added Mendoza who is also an Adviser to the EcoWaste Coalition.

According to studies in the US, “bottling water releases 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually and takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce a year’s supply, which is enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for the year or power 190,000 homes.”

“As not all reusable water containers are the same, we advise the public to select safe substitutes to disposable plastic bottles.  If metal-based containers such as vacuum flasks are preferred, please pick those that are not coated with lead paint as we have detected dangerously high lead levels on some painted flasks being offered for sale in local stores.  Also, shun those are not certified free of Bisphenol A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“If buying water in disposable plastic bottles cannot be avoided, we ask Undas travelers not to toss the used ones out of the car windows, throw them on the sidewalk, or burn them along with other discards in cemeteries.  Dispose of empty bottles in recycling bins or hand them over to waste recyclers please,” added Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

Studies indicate that “reusable bottles are a safe, less wasteful and eventually more cost-effective alternative to disposable ones,” the groups said. 

“By opting for reusable bottles, we help in reducing the volume of plastic waste that gets burned, dumped or spilled into the oceans, cut hazardous chemicals production, use and pollution, protect animals, especially marine life, and their natural habitat, and save  money, too,” the groups emphasized. 




30 October 2019

Public Urged to Heed Mayor Isko’s Plea to Keep Manila North and South Cemeteries Clean

A waste and pollution watchdog group has enjoined visitors to two of Metro Manila’s biggest and busiest cemeteries to heed the appeal made by Mayor Isko Moreno for a clean observance of Undas.

Moreno sought the cooperation of the public in keeping the city-managed Manila North and South Cemeteries clean as he urged everyone not to litter or leave their discards behind when they visit the tombs of their deceased relatives this Friday or Saturday.

“The mayor has spoken.  We hope the people will listen and take his guidance to heart.  Let us support the efforts of the Manila city government to make this year’s observance of Undas a pleasing occasion for both the living and the dead through reduced garbage generation and disposal in cemeteries,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Unlike in previous years, we hope that visitors this time around will show more respect to the dead and give up bad habits that dirty and pollute their resting places,” he said.

Topping the list of these disrespectful and polluting acts committed while visiting the dead include throwing garbage indiscriminately, open burning, smoking and vaping, urinating and even defecating in public, the group said.

“We appeal to everyone not to leave your rubbish in the cemetery.  It’s not OK to leave the cemetery in a mess. As should be expected, you have to pick up after yourself and not pass on the burden of cleaning up your own mess to others,” Benosa pointed out.

Borrowing words from Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP),  Benosa reiterated that "cemeteries are a hallowed ground, not a dumping ground for leftovers and disposables." 

To prevent and reduce waste and pollution in the cemeteries, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public to observe the following:

1. Don’t litter, dump or burn trash in the cemetery.

2. Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, and refrain from wrapping them in plastic.

3. Pick clean-burning candles, and shun those with poisonous lead-cored wicks.

4. Pack meals and drinks in reusable containers.

5. Bring just enough food to avoid spoilage or wastage.

6. Avoid single-use plastics and go for reusable bags, food and beverage containers, and cutlery.

7. Don’t smoke or vape in the cemetery.

8. Bring all discards home, including leftovers, and do not leave any trash behind.

From October 30 to November 2 last year, Manila Department of Public Services reported collecting 35 truckloads of garbage from Manila North Cemetery and 26 truckloads from Manila South Cemetery.

“With the cooperation of all sectors, including the local authorities, cemetery administrators, food concessionaires, street vendors and the general public, we can reduce the volume of Undas trash and avoid another garbage overload in our jam-packed cemeteries ,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


29 October 2019

Caloocan Prelate, EcoWaste Coalition Urge the Faithful Not to Trash Undas

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Vice President and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and the EcoWaste Coalition, a zero waste advocacy group, urged Catholic Filipinos to break away from the “traditional” littering at cemeteries ahead of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, or Undas, on November 1 and 2.

“The time-honored practice of remembering our deceased loved ones and the Saints has turned into a de facto feast of litterbugs as cemetery guests leave tons of trash on what is supposed to be a sacred ground,” said Bishop David.

“Let us break away from littering and other disrespectful acts and celebrate Undas as a prayerful instead of a wasteful occasion.  Cemeteries are a hallowed ground, not a dumping ground for leftovers and disposables,” the pro-environment prelate emphasized.

To hammer home the message that cemeteries should not be treated as dumpsites, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Diocese of Kalookan’s Ministry on Ecology and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, today launched a joint campaign at the La Loma Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in the metropolis, espousing the theme “Kalinisan sa Huling Hantungan, Igalang ang Kalikasan.”

“We appeal to our fellow Catholics to take the saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ to heart when they visit the cemeteries.  Our dearly departed ones deserve nothing less than a clean resting place,” reminded Sister Maria May Cano, OP, Coordinator of the Diocese of Kalookan’s Ministry on Ecology and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. 

“The most effective way of preventing Undas garbage overload is by avoiding the generation of trash in the first place.  This will require the conscious decision by families and individuals to consume responsibly, avoid single-use plastics and other disposables and not leave piles of rubbish in the cemeteries,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Echoing Bishop David’s plea, the groups enunciate practical steps to reduce waste and pollution in cemeteries and their environs.

Among the 10-point reminders from the groups toward a Zero Waste Undas are the following:

1.  Don’t litter, dump or burn trash in the cemetery.

2.  Choose lead-safe paints for repainting tombs.

3.  Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, and refrain from wrapping them in plastic.

4.  Pick clean-burning candles, and shun those with poisonous lead-cored wicks.

5.  Avoid making noise or playing loud music in the cemetery.

6.  Pack meals and drinks  in reusable containers.

7. Bring just enough food to avoid spoilage or wastage.

8.  Avoid single-use plastics and go for reusable bags, food and beverage containers, and cutlery. 

9.  Don’t smoke or vape in the cemetery.

10.  Bring all discards home, including leftovers, and do not leave any trash behind.

To emphasize the above reminders, community youth scholars from Barangay Tanza II, Navotas City presented a skit before an enthusiastic crowd.

Also, the Diocese of Kalookan and the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Mangangalakal sa Longos and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong, lighted candles and paid tribute to departed environmental warriors led by former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez.

The program ended with the installation of a signage at the cemetery gate urging visitors to observe the 10-point reminders to achieve Zero Waste Undas.    

“Together, let us make this year’s Undas more respectful and less wasteful compared to previous years,” the groups said.


28 October 2019

Toxic Candles Flagged by EcoWaste Coalition Ahead of Undas

The EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public not to buy and use candles with health-damaging lead-cored wicks as millions are expected to pay their respects to the dead in cemeteries and columbaria this week.

The waste and pollution watchdog group issued the reminder after confirming that such candles, which the US federal government banned in 2003 and which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines advised the public against buying and using in 2016, are still being sold in the market, particularly in Binondo, Manila.

In test buys conducted on October 27, the group managed to buy candles with lead-cored wicks from Taiwan from a shop in Ongpin St. that sells Chinese prayer articles.  The red-colored candles, sold from P120 up per pair depending on the size, are available in clear glass containers shaped like gourd, lotus and pineapple.   

As per X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening, the candle wicks have lead content reaching up to 8,668 parts per million (ppm).

“We advise the public not to light candles with lead-cored wicks as this could pose a lead poisoning risk, especially to young children who may inhale the lead that vaporizes into the air as the candle burns,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While the ingestion of lead-containing dust, soil and paint chips is the principal route of childhood lead exposure, it is essential that all other preventable sources of lead poisoning in children are averted,” he added.

As stated in FDA Advisory 2016-146, which was issued at the insistence of the EcoWaste Coalition, emissions from candles with lead-cored wicks “can result in increased blood lead levels in unborn babies, babies and young children.”

Exposure to lead has been linked to brain and central nervous system damage, delayed mental and physical development, learning difficulties, behavioral problems, hormone disruption and other health issues.

For children’s health, the group advised the public to shun lead-emitting imported candles and to opt for locally-made candles with braided or twisted cotton as wicks.

Aside from mass-produced candles on store shelves, there are also candles sold “for a cause” that consumers can choose from such as those made by released prisoners and their families belonging to the Binhi ng Pag-asa Community Inc., the group said.

To stop the importation, distribution and sale of candles with lead-cored wicks, the EcoWaste Coalition has recommended a follow-up FDA advisory that will explicitly prohibit the trade of such toxic candles.




27 October 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers against Potential Hazards in Halloween Costumes, Decors and Toys

Photo of sampled Halloween items

Photo of Halloween items containing chemicals of concern

Think twice before spending: Some items that are offered for sale in celebration of Halloween may pose chemical and injury risks, especially for young children.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for a zero waste and toxics-free society, alerted consumers after identifying potential hazards in some Halloween costumes, decors and toys that the group obtained from local retailers. 

The group purchased 35 Halloween products costing P25 to P199 each on October 25 and 26 from retailers in Monumento, Caloocan City; Quiapo, Manila City; Libertad, Pasay City; and Cubao, Quezon City.

“Our market investigation shows that many Halloween items, particularly children’s toys, are not properly registered with the health authorities and are oftentimes inadequately labeled or not labeled at all,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Despite the national phase-out of lead-containing decorative paints, we still found some items coated with bright paints with high lead content,” he noted.

"This is very worrying as the consequences of childhood lead exposure can be lifelong," he said, "as lead is toxic to multiple body systems, including children's developing brains."   

Out of 35 samples, nine Halloween decorations, including four pumpkin figurine sets, three jack-o’-lanterns and two toy animals, were found to contain lead above the regulatory limit  of 90 parts per million (ppm).   The orange-painted jack-o’-lanterns, in particular, had dangerously high lead levels above 10,000 ppm.   

The group also detected high antimony and bromine content in two Halloween hairbands, indicating the probable presence of toxic brominated flame retardants on the horse-shoe shaped recycled plastic material.

Also a ceramic Halloween candy bowl was found to contain 262 ppm of cadmium.

The group likewise found light-up toys and hairbands powered by small button batteries that are not securely fastened.

“Such Halloween accessories and toys may pose chemical or choking risks  for young children as the battery may easily detach from the item, get swallowed or placed in the ears or nostrils of a child," Dizon said.

The group also found an item that is prone to catching on fire without usage instructions and precautionary warning.

 “While negative for heavy metals, we find an unlabeled costume mask with fake hair dangerous as the hair can easily catch fire and harm the child wearing it,” he said.

The group further warned consumers against the use of vampire-inspired accessories that come with “fake blood.”

“It’s hard to guess what makes up the ‘fake blood’ because of the absence of any labeling information.  Parents should not allow such liquid of unknown composition to be ingested by a child,” stressed Dizon.   

As a general rule, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to be inquisitive when buying Halloween items, shun those that are not registered and labeled, and steer away from items that may cause injury or pose burn, chemical, choking, laceration, strangulation and other hazards.    

For a safer Halloween celebration, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers, particularly parents, to consider the following "lucky seven" tips:

1.  Refrain from buying unlabeled and unregistered toys, carefully check the label, including the chemical safety and health information and usage instructions .

2.  Pick the right toys for the right age, and that are suited to a child's ability and behavior.

3.  Shun painted toys unless these are certified as lead-safe.

4.  Avoid face paints unless guaranteed free of toxic metals and other cosmetic contaminants.

5.  Don’t buy toys that have small parts such as button batteries that can easily be pulled off and ingested.

6.  Reject polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic toys that may contain banned phthalates and other hazardous substances such as cadmium and lead.

7.  Refrain from buying toys that have a strong chemical or perfumed smell.


26 October 2019

Health and Environmental Advocates Call on the Public Not to Burn Trash in Cemeteries

Garbage burns at Manila South Cemetery despite the national ban on open burning (photos taken on 27 October 2019)

Health and environmental advocates raised the alarm against the dangers of open burning as citizens started flocking to cemeteries to clean up the graves of their deceased relatives in time for the upcoming observance of Undas.

Through a joint statement, public health expert Dr. Maricar Limpin and zero waste campaigner Jove Mendoza reminded the people that open burning is unhealthy, as well as illegal and punishable under the country’s environmental laws. 

“The open burning of discards from the sprucing up of the tombs of our dearly departed ones should be completely avoided for various health reasons,” said Limpin, a well-known pulmonologist and Secretary of the Philippine College of Physicians.

“Open burning generates environmental pollutants such as smoke and soot containing toxic fine particles and other substances of concern that can get into the lungs and the blood stream.  Exposure to these pollutants can cause breathing difficulties and trigger asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses, especially among children, the elderly and those already suffering from weakened immune systems,” she said.  

Aside from particulates, open burning is known to produce other harmful contaminants such as dioxins, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, heavy metals like lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other pollutants.

“Because of its known negative effects on public health and the environment, open burning has been banned under our national laws as well as city, municipal and barangay ordinances as an essential pollution prevention measure,” pointed out Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Among the laws banning and penalizing open burning are Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act, he said.

RA 9003 lists “the open burning of solid waste” as one of the prohibited acts punishable with a fine of P300 to P1,000 or imprisonment for one to 15 days, or both.

While R.A. 8749 states that “no person shall be allowed to burn any materials in any quantities which shall cause the emission of toxic and poisonous fumes."

“Instead of burning discards, we appeal to cemetery administrators and visitors to follow the provisions of  RA 9003, which requires the segregation of discards at source and their ecological management such as by composting the biodegradables and recycling the recyclables,” said Benosa

“Grass clippings, plant cuttings, and other organics are better turned into compost rather than toxic smoke and soot,” he added.


24 October 2019

Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc. Receives Lead Safe Paint® Certification for All Paint Brands

IPEN, an international non-profit leader on environmental health and chemical safety, announced today that paint products manufactured by Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc. (Sycwin), a leading paint manufacturer from the Philippines, have been certified under the Lead Safe Paint® standard. Sycwin is the world’s first company to have its industrial paint brands certified lead-safe in conformity with the approaching phase-out period for industrial paints in the Philippines at the end of the year. The certification encompasses its entire portfolio of architectural paints, including PureCoat Premium, WeatherGard, Sycwin, PureCoat Advance, Minnesota, Delaware, Alabama, and Kansas, as well as industrial paint brands Guilder and Illinois – 10 brands and 590 products in all. 

"Our company is extremely proud to receive Lead Safe Paint® certification for all our brands. We are especially proud of the recognition of our leading premium brand, Guilder, as the first industrial paint brand to achieve the Lead Safe Paint® certification in the world," said Michael Sy, President of Sycwin. "Earning this certification even for our economy-grade paint brands shows our company's full commitment to protecting the health and safety of the children and families in our community and the environment." 

Lead Safe Paint® is an independent certification program that verifies paints contain less than 90 parts per million (ppm) total lead on a dry weight basis—the strictest regulatory limit for lead content in paint established by any government anywhere in the world and the limit recommended by the UN Environment Programme. The current regulatory limit in the Philippines, Nepal, Cameroon, and Ethiopia is a total maximum lead content of 90 ppm for all paints. Adherence to this limit ensures that a manufacturer can sell its paint anywhere in the world. This limit is achievable when a manufacturer does not use lead compounds in pigments, driers, and other paint additives in its products.

“Despite strong scientific evidence establishing the dangers of lead exposure, paints containing high, unsafe lead levels continue to be sold in many countries, especially in developing countries and countries in economic transition. The leadership taken by Sycwin and other companies will improve the health and safety of communities in the developing world,” said Jeiel Guarino, Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner, IPEN.

The World Health Organization has indicated that there is no known safe level of lead exposure without harmful effects, and even low levels of lead exposure may cause lifelong and irreversible health problems. Lead is especially dangerous to children’s developing brains and may cause reduced intelligence quotient (IQ) and impaired cognitive functions, among others.

“There is growing education and awareness driving global demand for safer paint products. The lead-safe paint certification will enable customers to make informed choices that will protect their families from the hazards of lead exposure,” adds Nicole Muñoz, Managing Director for SCS Global Services, IPEN’s exclusive third-party certification body.

Industry and civil society experts in the Philippines encourage other paint manufacturers to follow Sycwin’s leadership:

Ely Kenneth Ong Sue, President of the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM), states:
“As one of the third-party certification program’s proponents five years ago, we encourage other member manufacturers to take part in this program and support their commitment to ensure the paints they sell to consumers do not contain added lead.”

Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition, says:
“The success of Sycwin in passing the rigorous certification procedures is another proof of the local paint industry’s capability to produce quality products that will protect children from lead-based paint hazards. We hope more products will carry the distinct Lead Safe Paint® logo to help consumers in making a sound choice when buying paints.”


About IPEN

IPEN is a global non-government organization (NGO) comprised of over 500 Participating Organizations in 121 countries working for a toxics free future. It has conducted lead paint testing and analysis in more than 50 countries and is a member of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint Advisory Group. It is also the Scheme Owner for the Lead Safe Paint® standard and certification mark. For information, visit www.ipen.org.

About EcoWaste Coalition

The EcoWaste Coalition is a non-profit network of over 140 public interest groups in the Philippines that have coalesced to advance “a zero waste and toxics-free society where communities enjoy a safe and healthy environment.”  Founded in 2000, the EcoWaste Coalition strives to attain such a vision by fostering and supporting activism around priority issues and concerns in line with the Filipino people’s constitutional rights to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology.  For more information, visit www.ecowastecoalition.org.

About Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc.

SYCWIN COATING & WIRES, INC. is the only company in the Philippines that manufactures both paints and wires. Established in 1970, it caters to trade and industrial customers, original equipment manufacturers and direct end-users. Since 1999, it has successfully been registered under International Standards: ISO 9001 for Quality Management System and ISO 14001 for Environmental Management System since 2008. Sycwin is committed to provide quality products and services responsive to the needs of customers and the community through sustainable and environment-friendly development. For more information, visit http://www.sycwin.com/.

About SCS Global Services

SCS is a trusted leader in third-party environmental, sustainability and food quality certification, auditing, testing and standards development. SCS works with companies, government agencies, and stakeholders worldwide to identify and drive practices, policies and processes that advance the goals of sustainable development and give innovators a competitive advantage. Its certification services and sustainability solutions span the natural resources, green building, energy, agricultural, and consumer products sectors, enabling policy-makers, purchasers, company decision-makers and consumers to make informed decisions based on the highest level of environmental, ethical and quality accountability. SCS is a chartered benefit corporation. For more information, visit www.scsglobalservices.com.

Media Contacts:
Jeiel Guarino, IPEN, +46 31 7995930, jeielguarino@ipen.org 
Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition, +63 917 8364725, thony.dizon24@yahoo.com 
Joan Menco, Sycwin, +63 917 8384486  joan.menco@sycwin.com 
Sabrina Chin, SCS Global Services, +1 510 452 6814, schin@scsglobalservices.com