15 July 2019

Toxics Watchdog Group Notifies Mayor Lazatin about the Illegal Sale of Mercury-Laced Skin Whitening Products in Angeles City (EcoWaste Coalition Urges Angeles City Mayor Lazating to Protect His Constituents against Health-Damaging Skin Whiteners with Mercury)

An environmental and health organization has requested Mayor Carmelo ”Pogi” Lazatin, Jr. to initiate law enforcement action to protect his constituents in Angeles City from being poisoned by mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics.

The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition today wrote to Lazatin to bring an urgent public health issue to his attention: the unlawful sale of skin lightening facial creams with high levels of mercury, a toxic chemical that is not allowed in cosmetic products under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD).

As part of the group’s advocacy in support of the Minamata Convention of Mercury, the EcoWaste Coalition went to Angeles City yesterday, July 14, to check if products banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their mercury content are being sold in the city.

The Minamata Convention, which the Philippines signed in 2013, has scheduled, among other things, the global phase-out by 2020 of mercury-added cosmetics such as skin lightening creams and soaps with mercury content about 1 part per million (ppm).   The Philippines is currently developing a National Action Plan on mercury-added products that are targeted for phase-out next year.

“We managed to buy eight skin whitening creams, which exceeded the 1 ppm allowable limit for mercury as contaminant in cosmetics .  The items, which were all imported, unregistered and lacking market authorization from the FDA, were procured from stores selling beauty and herbal products in Angeles City with official receipts provided,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition in his letter to Lazatin.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, the group detected excessive levels of mercury in all eight samples costing P100 to P300 each.  A “made in Taiwan” Yu Dan Tang freckle removing, whitening and sun block cream registered with a whopping  55,100 ppm of mercury.    This product is among the mercury-laden skin lightening products banned by the FDA in 2012.

Also screening positive for mercury are Goree Beauty Cream with 23,300 ppm and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream with 17,400 ppm.  Both variants of Goree from Pakistan were banned by the FDA in 2017.

The group also found China-made Jiaoli and S’Zitang skin whitening products being sold by unscrupulous retailers in Angeles City.

“In pursuit of the general welfare provision of the Local Government Code, we request your office to take law enforcement action to stop the trade of dangerous cosmetics containing mercury in your city.  Such action will protect the health and safety of your constituents and the environment,” Dizon said.

“We further request your office to please consider enacting an ordinance similar to what Quezon City adopted in 2018 that will ban the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in your area of responsibility,” he further suggested.

The World Health Organization has stated that “mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health.” 

According to the WHO: “The main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”

The WHO also warned that “mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”




13 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Formation of BOC Strike Team vs Foreign Trash Imports

An environmental health and justice group opposed to foreign waste importation has welcomed the move by the Department of Finance (DOF) to create a special strike team within the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to prevent illegal waste importation.

The formation of such team, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, will complement ongoing efforts to revise existing regulations so as to prohibit the entry of hazardous wastes and other wastes in line with the presidential order banning foreign waste imports.

“Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez’s order to BOC to create such a team will be useful in averting the entry of waste shipments into our country’s ports,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“All BOC ports nationwide should have a dedicated group comprised of honest and principled women and men who will proactively act to frustrate the unloading and dumping of wastes from overseas into our shores,” she said.

“The efforts of Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port under the leadership of Port Collector John Simon in seizing  misdeclared waste shipments from Hong Kong and South Korea, as well as from Australia, should inspire other ports to be more vigilant against such imports,” she added.  

Dominguez issued the directive during a recent DOF Executive Committee meeting after BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero reported that he had called on his counterparts in ASEAN member states to strengthen their law enforcement capabilities to prevent the region from becoming a dumping ground for hazardous materials, including garbage, from other countries.

“It’s time we put up something like an environmental unit in the Customs to really act on this garbage issue,” Dominguez said.

Considering the continuing threat of illegal traffic waste, the EcoWaste Coalition pressed the DOF and the BOC to set up the special strike team soon.

“As time is of the essence, we hope the BOC strike team versus foreign waste imports will be set up soon.  Its formation will be in sync with the presidential order banning waste imports,” Lucero said.   

Last May 6, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte “ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country” as confirmed by his spokesperson Atty. Salvador Panelo.

To further shield the Philippines from  the adverse impacts of the global waste trade, the EcoWaste Coalition called on the government to hasten the country’s ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.

The Basel Ban Amendment, which only needs ratification from two more eligible countries such as the Philippines to enter into force, seeks to prohibit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling.

“We expect the DOF and the BOC to strongly support the DENR in seeking President Duterte’s  ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment,” Lucero said.

After ratifying the treaty, the Office of the President has to transmit its decision to the Senate for concurrence.



12 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers Anew against Buying and Using Counterfeit Lipsticks

The EcoWaste Coalition has again warned Filipino consumers against buying and using cheap imitation lipsticks that may be laced with lead and other heavy metal contaminants.

The anti-toxics watchdog group issued the warning after screening lipsticks bought from retailers of counterfeit cosmetics in Divisoria, Manila last July 9 and 11.  The group employed a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer to screen the items for heavy metals.

“Consumers should not think that imitation lipsticks -- because these are 'branded' -- are harmless to use.  These counterfeits, as we all know, have not been assessed for quality and safety by our health authorities and may contain health-damaging chemical and bacterial contaminants," said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“The presence of high levels of heavy metal contaminants in the lipsticks we screened may be attributed to the use of low-quality raw materials and the failure to observe good manufacturing practices,” he said.

"Consumers, especially women of child-bearing age, should avoid these tainted lipsticks. Pregnant women who may ingest lead in lipstick through multiple applications each day can expose babies in the womb at their very critical age of development.  Lead is known to cross the placenta and pile up in fetal tissues," he warned.

"Exposure to high levels of lead may also bring about reproductive health problems such as miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and birth defects,” he added.

Out of 32 samples costing P35 to P50 each, 10 were found to contain lead in the scale of 152 to 43,800 parts per million (ppm), way above the 20 ppm limit for lead as contaminant as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD).

Some samples also screened positive for arsenic and mercury, which like lead, are not permitted by the ACD as ingredients in cosmetic product formulations. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, which bans lead above 90 ppm in paint products, also bans the use of lead and lead compounds in the production of cosmetics.

The following imitation lipsticks were among those found to be contaminated with high concentrations of lead:

1.  MAC Mariah Carey #02 (red canister), 43,800 ppm
2.  MAC Mariah Carey #02 (yellow canister), 41,100 ppm
3.  Naked Love #09, 25,600 ppm
4.  MAC Retro Matte #A08, 11,600 ppm
5.  MAC Zac Posen So Chaud #04, 7,523 ppm
6.  MAC Zac Posen Kinda Sexy #14, 4,626 ppm
7.  MAC Zac Posen Girl About Town #08, 4,532 ppm
8.  Revlon Matt Gossip Gurl #07, 1,232 ppm
9.  Revlon Matt Gossip Gurl #06, 242 ppm
10. MAC Zac Posen Angel #10, 152 ppm

According to the FDA, ”lead is a proven toxicant that accumulates in the body through constant exposure and absorption over a prolonged period. Health problems through chronic ingestion of high level of lead in lipsticks may manifest as neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal problems.”

“Lead easily crosses the placenta, and pregnant women should pay particular attention to the different sources of lead exposure,” the FDA warned.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed arsenic, lead and mercury among the “10 chemicals of major public health concern” requiring action by governments to protect the health of children, women of reproductive age, and workers.

To prevent human exposure to lead and other chemical as well as bacterial impurities in lipsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition again reminded consumers to observe the following precautionary measures: 

a. Check if the item has the required cosmetic product notification by accessing the FDA website.
b. Buy from a licensed retail outlet and ask for an official receipt.
c. If the price looks too good to be true, the product is most likely a counterfeit.
d. Use less, especially if the product is not guaranteed safe from lead and other contaminants.
e. Don’t let children play with lipstick.


Information on lead in lipstick:
Information on arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury:

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong Urged to Protect Consumers against Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics

A non-government environmental and health watchdog group has notified the Baguio City government about the unlawful sale at the Central Business District of smuggled cosmetics containing hazardous chemicals such as mercury and lead.

Through a letter e-mailed and couriered to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition informed the authorities that it managed to buy from various retailers 15 skin whitening creams laden with mercury, a highly toxic chemical that is forbidden as ingredient in cosmetic product formulations.

“As part of our continuing advocacy in support of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which, among other things, has set a 2020 phase-out of cosmetics with mercury content above 1 part per million (ppm), the EcoWaste Coalition conducted yet another test buy of such products that are being sold in Baguio City,” wrote Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner.

The items, which were all imported, unregistered and lacking market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), were procured from beauty and health product stores at Baguio Center Mall and the Maharlika Livelihood Complex and from general merchandise stores located at Magsaysay Ave. and Rajah Soliman St.

Mercury ranging from 970 to 23,700 parts per million (ppm) were detected in skin whitening products bearing the names Goree, Jiaoli and S’Zitang that the FDA had already banned due to their mercury content. 

As confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), “mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health.”

According to the WHO: “The main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage. 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.”

“In pursuit of the general welfare provision of the Local Government Code and in order to promote the health and safety of your constituents and the environment, we request your office to do what is necessary to stop the trade of dangerous cosmetics containing mercury in your city,” Dizon said.

“Aside from immediate law enforcement action, we request your office to please consider enacting an ordinance similar to what Quezon City adopted that will ban the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in your area of responsibility,” he added.

To combat the illegal trade of mercury-added cosmetics, the Quezon City Council in October 2018 unanimously enacted the said ordinance that was subsequently approved by then Mayor Herbert Bautista.

The group’s latest market surveillance in Baguio City also netted eight lipsticks with high concentrations of lead in excess of the 20 ppm regulatory limit.

Counterfeit MAC Mariah Carey and Qianxiu Hello Kitty lipsticks were found to contain lead in the range of 167 to 42,800 ppm.

According to WHO: “Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.”  Exposure to lead has also been linked to reproductive health issues such as hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, delays in the onset of puberty, reduced fertility in both men and women, and miscarriage.

The EcoWaste Coalition used a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device to screen the product samples for mercury and lead.


08 July 2019

Visiting Expert: “Give Zero Waste Solution the Chance to Untrash Our Planet”

A long-time advocate for the Zero Waste solution to the waste crisis plaguing the entire planet, the Philippines included, has emphasized the need for key sectors to assume responsibility to reach the goal of changing our throw-away society. 

Dr. Paul Connett, a retired British professor on environmental chemistry and toxicology, told a skillshare organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and attended by 140 members and partners that Zero Waste is possible and that many cities and towns around the world are pooling their creative minds and energies to prevent the generation and destruction of discards.

The said skillshare is the last in Connett’s busy five-day advocacy tour hosted by No Burn Pilipinas that brought him to the bustling cities of Cebu, Davao, Baguio and Quezon to talk about the pitfalls of incinerating waste and the benefits of moving toward the Zero Waste direction. 

“Waste is the evidence that we are doing something wrong.  Our task is to not to find more and more sophisticated ways to destroy material resources but to persuade industry and retailers to stop making products and using packaging that have to be buried or burned.  Instead of destroyed resources, let us give Zero Waste solution the chance to untrash our planet,” he said.

Connett cautioned national and local government authorities against watering down the country’s ban on waste incineration that is enshrined in two major environmental laws, RA 8749 or the Clean Air Act and RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act through the so-called waste-to-energy schemes.  

“Burning waste materials in waste-to-energy incinerators or cement kilns will not rid our planet of garbage.  Even if incinerators or cement kilns burning waste are made safe, we would never make them sensible.  The waste problem will not be solved with better technology, but with better organization, education, and better industrial design,” he pointed out.

He also emphasized that “three things are needed to protect the public from toxic emissions such as dioxins and other pollutants from waste burners: strong regulations, adequate monitoring and tough enforcement.”

“If any of these three essential requirements is weak, the public is not protected,” he emphasized.

To achieve the Zero Waste goal, Connett drew attention to the need for industrial responsibility at the front end (for example, to re-design products for the environment), community responsibility at the back end (for example, segregate at source, reduce, reuse, recycle, compost), and good political leadership (for example, innovative, visionary, corruption-free) to bring these two together.

Reacting to single-use plastics inundating rivers and oceans and the proliferation of trade in contaminated plastic wastes, Connett said: “Packaging must be designed for reuse and products must be made for a prolonged life and capable of easy disassembly and repair.”

“Industry should also eliminate as much as possible the use of toxic elements and compounds in manufacturing products such as toxic metals like lead, cadmium and mercury, as well as compounds containing the problematic elements chlorine, bromine and fluorine.  Manufacturers and retailers should also take back their products and packaging for safe recycling after the customer has finished with them,” he added.

Connett further outlined the 10 steps toward a Zero Waste Community.  At a glance, these are: source separation; door-to-door collection; composting; recycling; reuse, repair, and deconstruction; waste reduction initiatives; economic incentives; residual separation and research facilities; better industrial design; and interim landfills for residuals.

Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, welcomed Connett’s words of wisdom and reiterated her group’s determination to fight quick fixes, such as waste-to-energy incinerators, to the country’s burgeoning waste generation at over 40,000 tons per day.

“With the participation of enlightened government, business and community leaders, we intend to pursue the Zero Waste strategy to untrash and lead our nation to a clean, healthy and sustainable future,” she said.

By Zero Waste strategy, Connett means saying no to incinerators and mega landfills, no to the prevailing throw-away culture, and yes to a sustainable society.


Dr. Paul Connett's Bio:

Dr. Paul Connett is a graduate of Cambridge University and holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Dartmouth College.   From 1983 -2006, Paul taught chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY where he specialized in Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology.  Over the past 33 years, his research on waste management has taken him to 49 states in the US, 7 provinces in Canada and 65 other countries, including the Philippines, where he has given over 2,500 pro bono public presentations.  In October 2017, Paul was appointed to an International Board to advise the City of Rome, Italy on their plan to move toward Zero Waste. Paul is the author of the book “The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time,” which has a foreword by actor Jeremy Irons.  He last visited the Philippines in 2009 as guest of the EcoWaste Coalition for a workshop on the precautionary principle.

07 July 2019

Consumers Beware: Poison Cosmetics On Sale in Baguio City (EcoWaste Coalition Scores Baguio Retailers for Selling Cosmetics Contaminated with Toxic Mercury and Lead)

Baguio City/Quezon City.  The unlawful sale in Baguio City of toxic cosmetics continues unabated posing serious health risks to users and even non-users, warned a non-profit watchdog group.

The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition aired its latest toxic alert after finding high concentrations of mercury in 14 skin whitening creams and lead in eight lipsticks that the group purchased yesterday, July 6, from retailers in Baguio City.

The EcoWaste Coalition conducted the test buys to check if the sale of cosmetics containing banned ingredients such as mercury and lead has stopped or not since the group exposed the illegal trade in September 2018.

According to the group’s latest test buys, out of the 15 skin whitening creams bought (costing P80 to P280 per set), 14 were found to contain mercury in the range of 970 to 23,700 parts per million (ppm), way above the 1 ppm limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD)  and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.  Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned in November 2017 were found to be the most contaminated with all three samples containing mercury in excess of 22,000 ppm.  

Of the 12 lipsticks bought (costing P20 to P120 per canister), all eight fake MAC Mariah Carey and Qianxiu Hello Kitty lipsticks were found to contain lead from 167 to 42,800 ppm, surpassing the 20 ppm limit for lead in cosmetics under the ACD.  

The items were obtained from beauty and herbal product stores operating inside the Baguio Center Mall and the Maharlika Livelihood Complex, and from general merchandise shops in Magsaysay Ave., Rajah Soliman St. and Lower Session Road.  A portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device was used to screen the products for mercury and lead.

“We lament the unabated sale of cosmetics contaminated with chemical poisons like mercury and lead that could spell real trouble for human health as well as the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Mercury in skin whitening products is hazardous to health and may affect not only the person using it, but also other members of the household, including babies and children, who may be exposed through direct contact with contaminated objects or through the inhalation of mercury vapors,” he explained. 

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.  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.”

“Lead in lipsticks is ingested as the product is applied and re-applied several times each day ,” Dizon added.

According to the WHO: “Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.”  Exposure to lead has also been linked to reproductive health issues such as hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, delays in the onset of puberty, reduced fertility in both men and women, and miscarriage.

The EcoWaste Coalition will formally bring this matter to the attention of Mayor Benjamin Magalong through a letter that will be couriered to his office on Monday, July 8.

“To protect public health and the environment, we will request the honorable mayor to act with urgency to stop the trade of poison cosmetics in Baguio City.




04 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Inventory and Inspection of Overstaying Containers in BOC Ports as Recommended by COA

The environmental advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition has expressed its support to a recommendation made by state auditors for an inventory and inspection of all overstaying containers in Bureau of Customs (BOC) ports nationwide.

The anti-waste dumping group also threw its weight behind a proposal by Misamis Oriental District II Representative Juliette Uy to open 880 of the 6,985 overstaying containers that may contain imported garbage and other illegal waste cargoes.

According to the 2018 Consolidated Annual Audit Report on the BOC by the Commission on Audit (COA), “a total of 6,985 overstaying containers carrying various articles remained undisposed in various BOC ports for a period ranging from 30 days to more than 25 years.

The non-disposal of the overstaying shipments violates Republic Act 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act,   particularly Section 1141 of Chapter 10 on the “Disposition of Property in Customs Custody,” COA said.

In view of this, COA told BOC, among other recommendations, to “conduct inventory and immediate inspection of all overstaying containers to determine existence/condition and status of the goods.”

Eight hundred and eighty of these overstaying containers were without declared information, uninspected and could not be offered for auction as their contents “may pose risk or hazard to the port.”

“These 880 containers could very well contain garbage or hazardous materials illegally imported by their respective consignees. Remember, the garbage shipments in Tagoloan Port were discovered after they overstayed at the port,” stated Uy.

Uy suggested that the overstaying containers be inspected by inter-agency teams, along with non-government experts.

For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that “the public have the right to know what is hidden in these abandoned container vans.”

“Like Rep. Uy, we are concerned that these containers may contain contaminated wastes posing hazards to human health and the environment.  We therefore urge the BOC to conduct speedy inventory and inspection of the overstaying containers as recommended by COA and to make their findings as transparent as possible,” she said.

“In the event that hazardous wastes and other proscribed materials are found, we expect charges to be filed against responsible parties and the re-export of the illegal shipments to their points of origin.  Our country is not a dumping ground for other countries‘ garbage,” she added.

Given the spate of illegal waste exports to the Philippines, the EcoWaste Coalition and other environmental groups are campaigning for a complete and permanent ban on all waste imports to protect the country from turning into a global dumpsite, as well as to protect the people's environmental rights.





03 July 2019

Beauty Queens and Grassroots Activists Go All Out for Eco-Alternatives to Plastic Bags

Beauty queens and grassroots activists for environmental protection today marked the 10th International Plastic Bag Free Day with a joint appeal to replace single use plastics (SUPs) such as plastic bags with eco-friendly alternatives.

To raise awareness on the environmental impacts of SUPs and the need to embrace change, the EcoWaste Coalition, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, Cavite Green Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Sagip Pasig Movement and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong  went to Farmers  Market in Quezon City to encourage consumers and vendors alike to ditch the ubiquitous plastic bags and other SUPs, which are often used for a few minutes but can last and pollute the environment for up to 1,000 years.

Joining community activists in promoting bayong and other reusable substitutes to plastic bags  were  Miss Air Philippines 2018 Zahra Bianca Saldua and Miss Water Philippines 2018 Berjayneth Chee.

“It’s high time for all sectors of the society to break our craving for plastic bags and other single-use disposables that have become a bane for the environment, especially our oceans which are now choking with macro and microplastic waste,” said Chee.

According to scientists, “there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea.”

“Aside from polluting the oceans, plastic bags that end up being burned or buried in disposal facilities also emit harmful pollutants that can contaminate the air we breathe and the soil where we grow our food, posing threats to human health,” added Saldua.

According to the report “Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet,” all plastic waste management technologies “lead to direct and indirect exposure to toxic substances for workers and nearby communities, including through inhalation of contaminated air, direct contact with contaminated soil or water, and ingestion of foods that were grown in an environment polluted with these substances.”

“Toxins from emissions, fly ash, and slag in a burn pile can travel long distances and deposit in soil and water, eventually entering human bodies after being accumulated in the tissues of plants and animals,” the report said.

For her part, zero waste campaigner Ochie Tolentino of the EcoWaste Coalition challenged national and local governments to ban the manufacture, importation, distribution and use of single-use disposable plastics to stem the "plasticization" of the environment.

“National and local authorities need to enact aggressive measures to fight plastic pollution that will hopefully bring about deep changes in the way producers and consumers think, behave and live,” said Tolentino.

“We urge the 18th Congress to end the production and consumption of SUPs by enacting a national law complete with an ambitious phase-out plan toward a society free of SUPs such as plastic bags, straws, stirrers, cutlery and polystyrene beverage and food containers,” added Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

While pushing for behavioral and policy reforms, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Mother Earth Foundation also emphasized the need for industries to switch to sustainable packaging, design toxic chemical additives out of processes and products, and assume full responsibility for the retrieval and recycling of their goods at the end of the product life cycle.

The Cavite Green Coalition, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the Mother Earth Foundation are members of the Break Free from Plastic Movement, a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. 


27 June 2019

Mindanao LGUs Urged to Protect Their Constituents against Mercury Poisoning from Banned Skin Whitening Cosmetics

A non-profit group tracking toxic chemicals in products and wastes has alerted local government units (LGUs) in seven cities in Mindanao about the unlawful sale of mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics in their areas of jurisdiction.

In a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the local government, health and police authorities of Cagayan de Oro, Oroquieta, Ozamiz, Iligan, Dipolog, Pagadian, and Zamboanga Cities to act fast to stop the illegal trade of such toxic skin whiteners that could put the health of their constituents, especially women and girls, at risk of mercury poisoning.

“To uphold the general welfare as stipulated under the Local Government Code, we appeal to concerned city officials, especially to newly-elected or re-elected mayors, to act with urgency to break the criminal sale of mercury-laced skin whitening products,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As the Philippines develops its National Action Plan (NAP) for mercury-added products, we also urge our councilors to consider replicating the Quezon City Ordinance banning the production, importation, distribution, and sale of mercury-added skin whitening cosmetics in their area of responsibility,” he added.

Dizon emphasized that the requested action will not only promote the health and safety of citizens, but also prevent mercury in skin whitening cosmetics from being discharged into wastewater and consequently polluting the environment and the food chain.

The group aired its appeal for law enforcement action after conducting test buys from June 14 to 17 in seven bustling cities located at Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga de Norte. and Zamboanga del Sur.

The group managed to purchase 93 skin lightening creams costing P25 to P350 each from beauty and herbal product retailers mostly operating in public markets and shopping malls.  The  products, smuggled from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan, have not undergone the required quality and safety assessment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are therefore illegal to sell and unsafe to use.

The group screened the samples for mercury using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device.

Out of 93 samples, 75 items were found to be contaminated with mercury in the scale of 15 to 23,000 parts per million (ppm), way above the 1 ppm limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive as well as the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

All 11 samples of Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream, which the FDA banned in 2017, had high concentrations of mercury ranging from 18,700 to 23,000 ppm.

Also found to contain violative levels of mercury, a chemical that is forbidden as ingredient in cosmetic product formulations, were Collagen Plus Vit E, Erna, Huayuenong, Jiaoli, La Widya,  S’Zitang, Women of Flower, and  Xinjiaoli whitening creams.  The FDA had already issued advisories against these products except for La Widya Collagen Day & Night Cream.

While negative for mercury, Aichun Beauty Cream Fresh White, Aichun Beauty Cream Repair White, La Widya Temulawak Day & Night Cream, SP Asli Special UV Whitening, SP UV Special Whitening & Anti-Acne, The Face New Mengandung Temulawak Day & Night Cream, and UV Whitening Extra Ginseng are unlawful to sell due to the lack of market authorization from the FDA.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”

“Mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections,” the WHO said.

“Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy,” it added.



http://www.chanrobles.com/localgov1.htm#.XRK4Wz8zbIU (see Section 16, General Welfare)

24 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Raises the Alarm over Dangerous Weapon Toys

A non-profit group promoting children’s access to non-toxic and safe toys has raised the alarm over the sale of cheap replicas of lethal weapons that may cause injuries among children, especially if played without adult supervision.

The EcoWaste Coalition sounded the alarm bell after buying toy weapons with sharp points and edges, including imitation “balisong” (fan knife), hunting knife and Naruto weapons such as “kunai” (dagger), “shuriken” (hand blade ) and “tanto” (sword). 

The group bought the weapon toys yesterday, June 23, from toy retailers and wholesalers at M. de Santos and Tabora Sts., Binondo, Manila outside the Divisoria Mall.  These are sold for P55 to P120 per pack of 20 or 30 pieces.

These weapon toys are often sold to children for P5 to P10 each by ambulant vendors or toy shops near public elementary schools and in some neighborhood sari-sari stores, the group said

While very affordable, the use of such toys could result to injuries requiring first aid treatment or medical attention and should therefore be kept out of children’s reach, the group pointed out.

“Toys with sharp points and edges are potentially dangerous as these could tear a child’s sensitive skin or cause injury to a child eyes,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Ninja weapon toys inspired by Naruto, a Japanese manga series, are attractive to young children who are fascinated by action heroes.  However, some of these toys have pointed parts and sharp edges that can harm an unsuspecting child or his playmates,” he added.

Aside from the accidental cuts, stabbing, and eye injuries, the EcoWaste Coalition is also concerned with the impact of such toys on the development of aggressive and violent behavior among children.

“For example, we find it totally inappropriate for young children to play with ‘balisong,' which is often used in street altercations and crimes,” Dizon said.

“We strongly suggest to both parents and kids to pick safe toys that do not invite aggression or violence such as toy weapons,” he emphasized. 

To keep children safe and to discourage aggressive and violent behaviors, the EcoWaste Coalition advises parents to consider these tips:

1. Carefully read product labels and shun toys lacking the required labeling requirements such as age grading, cautionary warnings and usage instructions.

2. Select age and developmentally-appropriate toys.

3. Shun toys with sharp edges or points, small parts, long strings, small and loosely attached batteries, and toxic components such as lead-containing paint.

4.  Read the instructional literature and teach your child how to safely play with purchased toys.

5.  Supervise children under your care when they engage in indoor or outdoor play.

The group also drew attention to the importance of choosing toys and childcare articles that are notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration, which have undergone quality and safety verification procedures.

Next month, the EcoWaste Coalition will conduct test buys of toys being sold outside public elementary schools to check on toy industry compliance to the newly-promulgated Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act.

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EcoWaste Coalition Promotes Water Saving Tips as Water Level in Angat Dam Nears Critical Level

As the water level in Angat Dam nears the 160 meter critical level, the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental protection group, renewed its call for all consumers to minimize the wastage of water and to practise water conservation .

“As the water level in Angat Dam continues to plummet, we appeal to all individual, household, institutional, commercial and industrial consumers to take further steps to avoid water waste,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We all need to curb our water waste and conserve this precious resource as many communities face water service interruptions,” she said.

“As we urge everyone to conserve water, we ask the National Water Resources Board and water concessionaires to ensure people’s access to water.  We request them to initiate extra measures to lessen the hardship of consumers as taps run dry in the coming days,” she added.

To prevent and reduce water wastage, the EcoWaste  Coalition urged water consumers to heed the following water saving  tips:

1.  Fix dripping tanks, pipes, faucets, showerheads and hoses to prevent water loss.

2.  Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, lathering with soap or shaving.

3. Take shorter showers with a pail and dipper and use just enough water.

4.  Reuse towels a few times before putting them on the laundry basket.

5.  Collect grey water from bathing and washing and reuse it to wash the car, clean the garage, maintain sidewalks or flush the toilet.

6.  Place a brick or water-filled bottle inside the toilet tank to reduce water used in every flush and flush less.

7. Collect water dripping from air conditioners and use the collected water for washing mops and rugs, flushing the toilet or watering the plants.

8.  Leave grass clippings on the lawn as this cools the ground and holds in moisture.

9. Spread a layer of mulch around plants and trees to retain water and reduce evaporation.

10. Water the plants early in the morning or in the evening when temperature is cooler to minimize water loss.

11.  Refrain from using the washing machine if only washing a few clothes, do full loads of laundry, and use just the right amount of detergent to avoid extra rinsing.

12. Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin and not in running water; reuse the water for watering the plants.

13. Save the rice wash for washing the dishes or watering plants.

14. Steam vegetables instead of boiling to conserve water as well as preserve their nutrients.

15. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator overnight, not on running water.

16. Use fewer cooking and dining utensils and dishes to reduce water use for washing.

17.  Choose the proper pan and pot size for cooking as bigger ones may need more cooking water than required.

18. Do not let the water run when washing the dishes, fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.

19.  Soak dirty pans and pots first instead of scraping them in running water.

20.  Collect and store rainwater for daily chores.


19 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Warns against Toxic Crayons bought in Ozamiz City

A non-profit group tracking hazardous substances in products and wastes has warned consumers against the use of crayons contaminated with lead, a chemical that is dangerous even at low level of exposure, especially for growing children.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued its latest toxic alert after screening “Ultra Colours Crayons” for lead and other heavy metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device.

The group purchased two 16-piece crayon sets from a department store in Ozamiz City last Saturday for just P12.50.  As written on the label, the crayons were manufactured by Caloocan City-based Supreme Wax & Candle and supposedly "non-toxic.".

The group recalled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 had warned consumers against “Ultra Colours Jumbo Crayons” manufactured by Supreme Wax & Candle that were verified to contain lead.

For the “Ultra Colours Crayons” purchased by the EcoWaste Coalition, lead was detected in various colors from 126 to 13,700 part per million (ppm) in excess of the maximum allowable limit of not more than 90 ppm. 

Out of 32 crayon sticks, 10 were found to be laden with lead.  The yellow, pink, yellow green, and white crayons were found to contain 13,700, 5,556, 5,484 and 4,414 ppm of lead, respectively.

“Children’s products such as toys and school supplies should contain no lead as this chemical is known to harm children’s health even in small amounts,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“While lead-containing paint and dust are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children, lead-containing crayons and other lead-containing objects in the home and school environment may also expose children to lead posing serious health concerns,” he said.

The World Health Organization has confirmed “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”

According to the FDA, “lead produces a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems. In particular, lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased anti-social behavior, and reduced educational attainment.”

“Their hand-to-mouth behaviors as well as their innate curiosity predisposed them to put objects in their mouth resulting to unintended exposure to multiple hazardous substances such as lead,” the FDA said.

“Accordingly, to protect them from unnecessary hazards, parents, school teachers and guardians are strongly advised to strictly monitor the children especially when children are engaged in activities wherein adult supervision is required,” the FDA pointed out.

To protect children against lead exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition advised parents to discard lead-containing crayons and to pick safe toys and school supplies conforming to regulatory standards and requirements.

The group also urged the manufacturer to recall their non-compliant crayons, and for dealers and retailers to stop distributing such unsafe products.




14 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Thumbs Up Agreement to Ship Back Remaining 5,177 Tons of Illegal Waste Shipment to South Korea

Photos courtesy of EcoWaste Coalition

Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental/Quezon City.  The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health and justice group, welcomed the agreement reached by the governments of the Philippines and South Korea toward the repatriation of 5,177 tons of illegal traffic waste originating from the latter.

At a bilateral meeting held yesterday in Tagoloan and chaired by Port Collector John Simon, government officials from the two countries agreed to return the waste, which is part of the illegal waste cargoes falsely declared as "plastic synthetic flakes" with a total combined weight of 6,500 tons, that arrived in Northern Mindanao in July and October 2018.   

The meeting drew over 40 attendees led by Representative Juliette Uy of the Second District of Misamis Oriental and included observers from the private sector and the civil society represented by the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We laud the firm stance of customs and environmental officials in the region to have the illegal traffic waste re-exported to its source in South Korea.  The Basel Convention imposes an obligation on the State of export to ensure the return of wastes deemed to constitute ‘illegal traffic’,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

As stated in the minutes of the meeting, “the government of the Philippines desires the re-exportation to be conducted in compliance to the order of President  Rodrigo Duterte to immediately remove foreign waste as soon as possible.”

“We also laud them for rejecting outright the proposal from the Korean side to landfill or incinerate the illegal traffic waste from South Korea in the Philippines,” she added.  

Under the Basel Convention, the obligation of the State of export to manage the illegal traffic waste “in an environmentally sound manner may not under any circumstances be transferred to the State of import or transit.”   

Leading the government panel in the said meeting were Representative Juliette Uy, Provincial Board Member Gerardo Sabal III, District Collector Floro Calixihan Jr., Port Collector John Simon and EMB-Region 10 legal chief Abbas Lao.

During the meeting the Korean government led by Mr. Young –Dae Jung, Director General of the Ministry of Environment, offered three options for dealing with the wastes. 

As cited in the minutes, these options are: “1) retrieving the waste back to Korea with the precondition that the Philippines covers all costs concerning repacking, containerizing, transporting the waste to the port, and clearing the customs; 2) establishing an incineration facility by Korea in the Philippines; and 3) landfilling or incinerating the waste within the Philippines first, then after that paying the treatment cost.”

Because this incident was caused by an illegal exporter in South Korea and an illegal importer in the Philippines, both governments agreed to share responsibility in addressing the matter.  

The Philippine government agreed to “bear the whole responsibilities concerning the repacking, containerizing, transporting the waste from the importer’s premises to the port, and clearing the customs, including demurrage charges at the Philippine port.”

The South Korean government agreed to “start the shipping procedure from the port of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental to Korea as soon as possible.”

“Both parties understood that in Korea it might take some time to secure and allocate the budget for shipping,” according to the minutes.

To recall, the bulk wastes, which the authorities determined as “misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health,” have been sitting at the premises of Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., the consignee, inside the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz,  Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental since July 2018.  

According to the re-exportation order issued by the Bureau of Customs-Region 10 last December 2018, “the shipment was found to be heterogenous and contained household hazardous waste constituting a violation under DENR Administrative Order 2013-22.”  As per this regulation, “no importation of heterogenous and unsorted plastic materials shall be allowed.  

The first batch of the illegal waste shipment consisting of nearly 1,400 tons of containerized wastes was re-exported to South Korea on January 13 this year.