31 January 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Draws Attention to E-Waste's Health and Environmental Risks

A waste and pollution watch group has reminded the public not to mix e-waste with regular waste to keep their toxic content from entering and polluting the environment and damaging human health.

The EcoWaste Coalition took the opportunity to inform the public about safe e-waste management following the release of a new report indicating that only 20 percent of the 50 million tonnes of e-waste produced globally is formally recycled.

According to the report “A New Circular Vision for Electronics: Time for a Global Reboot," “less than 20 percent of e-waste is formally recycled, with 80 percent either ending up in landfill or being informally recycled – much of it by hand in developing countries, exposing workers to hazardous and carcinogenic substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium.”

Published by the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) and the UN E-Waste Coalition, the report said that “e-waste can be toxic, is not biodegradable and accumulates in the environment, in the soil, air, water and living things.”

E-waste is defined as anything with a plug, electric cord or battery (including electrical and electronic equipment) from toasters to toothbrushes, smartphones, fridges, laptops and LED televisions that has reached the end of its life, as well as the components that make up these end-of-life products.

“When it is not being stored in cellars, drawers and cabinets, e-waste is often incinerated or dumped in landfills, or makes its way around the world to be pulled apart by hand or burned by the world’s poorest, to the detriment of health and the environment,” the report said.

The new report should encourage stakeholders to sit down anew to review current regulations and practices leading to increased e-waste prevention and reduction efforts in the Philippines, the group suggested.

“Although the law, specifically R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, considers e-waste as special waste requiring separate handling, we often find e-waste mixed with regular trash or simply dumped in street corners,” observed Primo Morillo, E-Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We need a functional system for e-waste collection nationwide that will keep toxic pollutants from this waste stream from entering the environment through improper handling, recycling or disposal.  Children, women and workers are most susceptible to the health risks of unsafe e-waste management,” he said.

“Considering the moves by China and, most recently, Thailand to ban the entry of electronic and plastic wastes from abroad, we feel the urgency of tightening our country's current regulations that still allow the importation of so-called recyclable materials and surpluses,” he added.

Strengthened e-waste regulations and improved e-waste management practices in the country, the EcoWaste Coalition said, will be in sync with the ongoing safe e-waste management program led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, a member of the UN E-Waste Coalition.

PACE and the UN E-Waste Coalition called for an overhaul of the current electronics system, emphasizing the need for a circular economy in which resources are not extracted, used and discarded, but valued and reused in ways that minimize environmental impacts and create decent, sustainable jobs.

Solutions identified by PACE and the UN E-Waste Coalition include durable product design, buy-back and return systems for used electronics, ‘urban mining’ to extract metals and minerals from e-waste, and the ‘dematerialization’ of electronics by replacing outright device ownership with rental and leasing models in order to maximize product reuse and recycling opportunities.

"It's time for the electronics industry to clean up and substitute hazardous chemicals and processes with substances and procedures that present less, or no risk, to health and the environment," the EcoWaste Coalition, a proponent of a zero waste and toxics-free future, said.





30 January 2019

Single-Use, Throw-Away Plastics Hinder Progress Toward Zero Waste

The unrelenting production, consumption and disposal of single-use plastics pose a major hindrance in community efforts to attain the zero waste goal, the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition jointly pointed out.

The groups dared companies making and using single-use plastics to take responsibility for the endless garbage woes afflicting communities, including the town of General Mariano Alvarez (GMA), site of the groups’ zero waste project in partnership with the municipal government.

The groups issued the challenge as the nation concludes tomorrow the observance of the annual "Zero Waste Month" as per Presidential Proclamation No. 760, Series of 2014.

“Our efforts to educate the grassroots and assist them in drawing up and implementing barangay-level action plans are helpful but not enough to achieve the desired zero waste resource management,” stated Ochie Tolentino, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“A key stumbling block that we always have to deal with is the volume of residual plastic waste, especially plastic bags, sachets and other single-use plastics, piling up at the barangay and municipal materials recovery facilities or MRFs,” she pointed out.     

“Our experience is telling us that companies should assume responsibility for the plastic waste pollution besetting communities, be accountable, and not simply pass the burden to the local government and the people,” she said. 

A brand audit carried out by the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition in cooperation with GMA Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer and residents of Barangay Bernardo Pulido showed that 82 manufacturers are contributing to branded pollution.

Out of the approximately 29 kilos of mixed plastic waste collected from 3,405 households in the barangay, a total of 4,099 pieces of identifiable branded waste were collected.  Additionally, over 100 pieces of branded trash with indistinguishable brands were also gathered.

The groups revealed that among the top branded plastic waste materials were from: 1. Nestle (509);  2. Universal Robina Corporation (394); 3. Unilever (327); 4. PT Torabika Eka Semesta (306); 5. Monde M.Y. San Corp (282); 6. Procter and Gamble Phil. Inc. (235); 7. Liwayway Marketing Corp (196); 8. Mighty and Strong Foods (174); 9. Rebisco Biscuit Corp (114); and 10. Colgate-Palmolive Phil. Inc (99).

Together, these 10 manufacturers comprise 65% of the total identifiable branded plastic wastes collected out of 82 manufacturers listed in the brand audit.

“To drastically reduce the waste that our homes and communities generate, we need companies to switch from single-use, throw-away packaging to alternative product delivery systems,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope companies, especially the top companies contributing to branded pollution, will heed our plea for plastic use and waste reduction, and move away from wasteful disposable product packaging,” she added.

- end –

27 January 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Blasts Unrelenting Illegal Trade of Mercury-Laden Cosmetics in Quiapo (Dangerous skin whitening cosmetics banned in ASEAN countries among those offered for sale)

A non-profit advocacy group for public health and the environment has denounced the unlawful sale of unregistered skin whitening products in Quiapo, Manila that health authorities in the Philippines and neighboring countries have already banned for containing mercury, a highly toxic substance.

The EcoWaste Coalition criticized retailers for selling such products in violation of the national and regional ban on cosmetics laden with mercury exceeding the trace amount limit of one part per million (ppm) under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD).

“The brazen disregard by unscrupulous traders of the ACD and related public health warnings issued by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Philippines and its counterpart agencies in ASEAN countries is putting the health of consumers at risk of mercury exposure,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We call upon the Manila Health Department to take immediate action to bring the sale of mercury -laced cosmetics in the city to a complete halt,” he added.

The group’s test purchases last Thursday, January 24, in Quiapo, Manila netted six imported skin whitening products banned by cosmetics regulators in Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Singapore for containing mercury, a substance not allowed as ingredient in cosmetic products as per the ACD.

Mercury concentrations in the range of 1,246 to 24,100 ppm were detected in Glow Glowing 5 in 1 Beauty Skin, Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set, Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream, Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, Temulawak Day & Night Beauty Whitening Cream, and Erna Whitening Cream  that the group purchased for P60 to P1,700 each and screened for mercury using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

A component of the Glow Glowing 5 in 1 Beauty Skin made in Malaysia, which promises a “white, fluffy, smooth  (skin) as early as 7 days,” was found loaded with mercury at 24,100 ppm .  Singapore in 2017 banned a 4 in 1 variant of this product for containing mercury above the threshold  by more than 25,000 times.  Unlike the other items, this product is pricey at P1,700 per set.

A Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set banned by the FDA since 2014 had 23,300 ppm of mercury.  Manufactured in China, this product, which sells for P150 per set, was among the seven products submitted in 2014 by the EcoWaste Coalition to the FDA for confirmatory mercury analysis and was later banned. 

A product from Pakistan called Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream was found contaminated with 18,800 ppm of mercury.  Sold for P350, Goree was banned by the FDA in 2017.  Health authorities in Brunei and Singapore, as well as countries in Europe, have likewise banned its sale.

Banned by the FDA since 2015, Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream had 8,264 ppm of mercury.  This product costing P200 is also banned in Indonesia, its country of origin.

Temulawak Day & Night Beauty Whitening Cream bought for P250 tested with 7,980 ppm of mercury.   This product from Malaysia is banned in Brunei and Myanmar.

Erna Whitening Cream in tiny jar costing P60 had 1,246 ppm of mercury.  Erna, along with 10 other products, were submitted by the EcoWaste Coalition to the FDA in 2013 for mercury content analysis, which the agency subsequently banned.  

The Philippine FDA has yet to impose a ban on Glow Glowing and Temulawak skincare products.

According to health experts, the regular application of mercury-laced skin creams could lead to skin blotching, discoloration and rash.  Chronic exposure to mercury in cosmetics products, which can be absorbed through the skin, may also cause toxic effects to the kidneys, digestive and the nervous system resulting to organ damage.

The report “Mercury in Women of Child-Bearing Age in 25 Countries,” published by Biodiversity Research Institute and IPEN (a global civil society network for a toxics-free future that includes the EcoWaste Coalition), warned  “the harmful effects that can be passed from the mother to the fetus when the mother’s mercury levels exceed 1 ppm include neurological impairment, IQ loss, and damage to the kidneys and cardiovascular system.”

Mercury in skin whitening creams and other cosmetics is eventually discharged into wastewater contaminating the marine environment and consequently the food chain.


22 January 2019

Green Groups Urge Politicos to Voluntarily Remove Propaganda Posters on Trees (Environmentalists Tell Poll Candidates: Spare the Trees)

Green groups, EcoWaste Coalition and the National Coalition to Save the Trees (NCST), today appealed to all individuals and groups who are running in the midterm elections this coming May to spare the trees of campaign materials.

The groups jointly aired the appeal after eco-volunteers found plastic posters nailed or tacked on trees by candidates’ supporters in the hopes of getting voters’ attention ahead of the official campaign period.

"Trees don't vote.  For the sake of life-sustaining trees, we appeal to all candidates and their backers to voluntarily remove campaign materials on trees," the groups said. 

Environmental and human rights advocate Father Robert Reyes of the NSCT urged candidates to respect the trees as he likened the nailing of posters on trees to the torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

“The Roman executioners nailed Jesus to a tree.  Don’t candidates repeat the deadly act by nailing their posters on trees?  Yes, but instead of killing Jesus and us directly, they are slowly killing the trees.  Genuine politics does not hurt or kill whether persons or trees.  Do not kill trees.  Do not kill us,” said Reyes.

Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition added that “the nailing of posters and banners on trees is blatantly unlawful and has to stop” as he asked aspiring political leaders to “be the first ones to uphold the laws protecting trees from human abuse and disrespect.”

Republic Act 3571, as amended by Presidential Decree 953, prohibits the “cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises or in any other public ground.”

Presidential Decree 953 states that violators “shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than six months but not more than two years, or with a fine of not less than P500 but not more than P5,000, or with both such imprisonment and fine at the discretion of the court.”

“If the offender is a public officer or employee, he shall, in addition, be dismissed from the public service and disqualified perpetually to hold public office,” the law said.

According to the NCST and the EcoWaste Coalition, tacking or nailing campaign materials could stress out trees and make them vulnerable to decay-causing micro-organisms, bad insects, and diseases causing stunted growth, shorter lifespan and premature death.

"We have the shared responsibility to protect trees as they clean the air we breathe, store water and prevent soil erosion and floods, serve as homes for other living organisms, and provide us with food, medicine, paper, and other essential needs," the groups said. 




20 January 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Detects Toxic Chemicals in Tondo’s Fiesta Banderitas (Green Group Scores Toxic Plastic Banderitas)

Banderitas with high lead content.

The unchecked use of plastic banderitas in community fiestas is not only adding to the volume, but also to the toxicity of garbage.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, issued this statement after detecting heavy metals, particularly lead, in samples taken from banderitas strung across the crowded streets and alleys of Tondo, which is celebrating today the popular feast of Santo Niño.

“Plastic banderitas add to the volume and toxicity of rubbish generated by our popular but wasteful fiestas,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“These unnecessary accessories may look safe to the naked eye.  However, when these banderitas are finally disposed of in dumpsites, landfills or incinerators, or thrown in water bodies, their toxic chemical additives can enter the environment  posing a risk to public health,” he said. 

“Burning these banderitas will cause the formation and release of even more toxic byproducts such as dioxins,” he added.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical instrument, the group detected lead in 12 of 25 samples of plastic banderitas in the range of 512 to 9,931 parts per million (ppm).

Bright orange-colored banderitas, as well as those promoting certain products were among those found with high lead content.

The presence of lead in some of the sampled buntings may be due to the use of lead compounds as plastic stabilizer or as plastic colorant, the group explained.

According to the World Health Organization, “lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system,” while “dioxins can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.”

The renewed efforts by the national government to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay should prompt the local authorities, church leaders, and community residents into stopping wasteful practices that contribute to the pollution of the bay, including the rampant use of banderitas and other single-use plastics, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Corporations should also ensure that their product packaging, as well as product promotional materials such as banderitas, are reusable, recyclable or compostable, and are safe from chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment, including aquatic life, the group pointed out.
Banderitas with low or non-detectable lead content. 





19 January 2019

Tondo’s Plastic Banderitas Not In Step with Moves to Clean Up Manila and Manila Bay

The single-use plastic banderitas adorning the streets of Tondo in celebration of the feast of Santo Niño tomorrow are not in sync with the government’s plan to clean up Manila and rehabilitate the highly polluted Manila Bay.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, made this observation after visiting last Wednesday and Friday the immediate vicinity of the Santo Niño de Tondo Church and finding the streets and alleys excessively decorated with plastic buntings as if there was no tomorrow.

“We are appalled by the extreme use of plastic bags, plastic strips, plastic packaging scraps and plastic product advertisements as fiesta banderitas as if the 1,175 tons of garbage that Manila churns out daily is not yet enough,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“These banderitas are basura in the making.  After the festivities this Sunday, the banderitas will be taken down and transported by barge, along with other post-fiesta discards, to the Navotas Sanitary Landfill, the dumping ground for Manila’s garbage,” he said.

Alejandre pointed out that “reckless wasting as manifested by the banderitas hanging on every street and alley of Tondo goes against the moves to clean up Manila and reduce the city's huge waste production.”

“Some of these banderitas may end up as street litter or blown away to the sea while being hauled to the loading station at Pier 18 and onto the landfill near Manila Bay,” he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged city, barangay and church officials to act decisively against the unnecessary hanging and irresponsible disposal of plastic banderitas that are simply thrown away after the fiesta. 

“We can easily do away with wasteful banderitas as these are not crucial to the good conduct of any community celebration,” Alejandre said.  

The group also suggested that May 2019 poll candidates should stop politicizing faith-based activities with hollow "happy fiesta" banners and other campaign materials.

“These ‘happy fiesta’ tarpaulins only add to the street clutter, as well as garbage.  We urge our well-meaning political aspirants to be always mindful of the environmental impact of their campaigning activities,” Alejandre said.  

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that “the true essence of our time-honored festive celebrations does not rely on the length and color of plastic buntings crisscrossing our streets, but on how we relight our faith and share our community blessings through the fiesta.”
In lieu of wasteful banderitas and banners, the group suggested that funds for these non-essentials be spent for public information drive towards waste prevention and reduction, which can improve people’s live and protect public health and the environment. 


16 January 2019

Group Questions Widespread Use of Plastic Tarpaulins for Election Propaganda

The waste and pollution watch group, EcoWaste Coalition, has expressed serious concern over the countless  election propaganda tarpaulins that have sprouted all over Metro Manila ahead of the official campaign period for the May 2019 midterm polls.

“Tarpaulins promoting the names of politicians eyeing elective positions have replaced Christmas decorations that used to adorn our streets.  You can see the ubiquitous tarps hanging on electric posts, phone and TV cables, and on trees,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The ‘battle of the tarpaulins’ is more obvious in communities that are set to observe the feast of Santo Nino this coming Sunday.  The whole stretch of Jesus Street in Pandacan, Manila, for example, is dotted with tarpaulins of mostly local candidates that are competing for voters’ attention and support,” he said.

“Politicians and their supporters have without doubt exploited the loopholes in the election law as regards premature campaigning,” he said.

“The lax regulation has emboldened political wannabes and their supporters to mass produce tarpaulins and to put them up anywhere even in restricted and unsafe places,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition also underscored the waste and toxicity issues resulting from the wild use of propaganda tarpaulins.

“Time will come when a tarpaulin has to be removed and disposed of.  Even if reused for other purposes, it will still be thrown away after it has worn out or is no longer needed.  These tarps, sooner or later, will get buried or burned somewhere,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Sad to say, tarpaulins are not harmless materials.  Mostly made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, tarpaulins may contain toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and phthalates that can leach and contaminate the surroundings,” he explained.

“It’s possible that some of the tarpaulins that we see on the streets might even end up being burned and this will cause far more dangerous pollution,” he warned.

Dizon explained that when chlorinated materials such as PVC plastic are burned, toxic byproducts called dioxins are unintentionally formed and released to the environment.

Dioxins are among the persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, that are targeted for global minimization, if not elimination, under the Stockholm Convention on POPs, an international treaty of which the Philippines is a state party.

To prevent and reduce tarpaulin-related waste and pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition urged policy makers to draw up a regulation that will control tarpaulin production, use and disposal.

In the absence of such a regulation, the group appealed to all politicians and their backers to moderate their use of tarpaulins, or better yet opt for ecological campaign methods and materials, and to wait until the official campaign period for the upcoming polls has begun. 


15 January 2019

DENR Urged to Ban Plastic Waste Importation to Prevent Dumping and Pollution (Government should act now to stop influx of plastic waste imports before it's too late, says EcoWaste Coalition)

The waste and pollution watch group, EcoWaste Coalition, urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to look into banning plastic waste importation in light of the Canadian and Korean garbage dumping incidents.

“We request DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to impose tough measures that will prevent discarded plastics that could no longer enter China from being diverted into the Philippines due to loopholes in existing regulations,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With the ban on plastic waste imports in effect in China since 2018, we are seeing increased waste exports from South Korea to the Philippines,” she warned.

Lucero cited data from the Korea Customs Service published in November last year indicating that 2017 waste exports from South Korea to Philippines rose from 4,398 tons to 11,588 tons after China closed the door for plastic waste and other waste imports from overseas.   Waste exports from South Korea to Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan also increased.   On the other hand, South Korea’s waste exports to China dropped from 119,575 tons in 2017 to 9,379 tons in 2018.

“Waste traders from industrialized countries are frantically looking for places with lenient regulations where their plastic waste can be shipped  for so-called ‘recycling’ like what we have seen in the controversial plastic garbage shipments from Canada and South Korea.  We need to take action now, like what Malaysia and Vietnam did, before it’s too late,” Lucero added.     

According to news reports, Vietnam stopped issuing plastic waste import licenses in July 2017. Their waste imports went from 2,000 – 5,000 tons per month to 300 – 400 tons per month.  Malaysia made the same move reducing their plastic waste imports from 1,000 to 2,000 tons per month in 2017 to 56 tons in 2018.   Malaysia last October 2018 also announced its plan to phase out imports of all plastic wastes in three years.

The EcoWaste Coalition is definitely not the lone voice calling for preventive action to stop the influx of plastic waste imports into the Philippines.

At the ceremonial send-off rites last Sunday for the 51 containers of illegal garbage exports from South Korea, Rep. Juliette Uy (Second District, Misamis Oriental) conveyed her support for “stringent policies” to deter plastic waste dumping into the country.

“We need to adopt new stringent policies to prevent the importation of plastic and other types of waste since we do not want our province and our whole country for that matter to become a global garbage dump,” she told the crowd assembled at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT).

MICT Port Collector John Simon also signified the need for “stringent policy measures” to protect the country from plastic wastes and pollutants.

“It’s our shared responsibility to proactively prevent plastic wastes, which often come unsorted and contaminated with hazardous materials, from entering our ports.  Stringent policy measures should be adopted, including banning the importation of waste plastics, which should be treated at source and not sent to developing counties like ours,” he said.

Zero waste advocate Noli Abinales, founder of Buklod Tao, agreed with Simon: "We should send a clear message to waste traders and traffickers that our country is not a dumping ground for the world's trash.  Disallowing plastic waste importation will compel governments and industries to think of innovative ways to prevent the creation of garbage and ensure their environmentally-sound management at the country of generation."

In July 2017, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its intent to prohibit the importation of scrap plastics by the end of December 2017 “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.”

According to the notification sent by the MEP to the WTO, “large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials… pollut(ing) the environment seriously.”

“To protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid waste list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted,” the MEP said.

The import ban applies to 24 waste categories, including eight types of post-consumer plastic scrap materials.

“We hope DENR will follow suit and ban plastic waste importation to safeguard human health and the environment,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.






13 January 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Hails Re-Export of South Korean Garbage as “Triumph for Environmental Justice” (Return of waste shipments to South Korea rekindles demand for Canada to take back their garbage)

Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental/Quezon City.  The waste and pollution watch group, EcoWaste Coalition, applauded the departure from the Philippines of 51 containers of illegal garbage exports from South Korea extolling the move as a “triumph for environmental justice, morality and the rule of law.”

Speaking at the ceremonial send-off rites held at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT), Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, underscored that “the waste shipments violated Korean and Philippine customs and environmental laws, as well as the Basel Convention,” and “sending the garbage back to its origin is only just, moral and lawful.” 

“Our resolute stance to get the garbage returned to its sender shows how much we, the Filipino people, want our fragile ecosystems to be protected against the adverse effects of waste trafficking, which is a serious threat to our people’s lives, their health and  the environment,” she said.  

To emphasize their stance versus waste trafficking, the group held a banner that reads “stop exporting garbage to the Philippines.”  They also brandished placards saying “we are not a garbage can for Korean waste,” “Korean waste should be treated in Korea,” and “don’t transfer Korean waste to the Philippines.”

“By saying ‘no’ to garbage dumping from Korea and other countries, we say ‘no’ to the derogation of our country’s dignity and sovereignty, ‘no’ to the disrespect for national and international laws, and ‘no’ to the harm they will bring to our communities,” Lucero told the crowd assembled.  

“As a civil society group dedicated to promoting a zero waste and toxics-free Philippines, we promise to remain vigilant to ensure that our country does not become a dumpsite for any country’s garbage,” she assured them.   

MICT Port Collector John Simon echoed Lucero’s stance as he said: “May our victory serve as a lesson to big nations that small nations like the Philippines can rise and fight for its right to have a clean environment free from the hazardous waste of the most powerful and industrialized nations of the world.”

Lucero was quick to point out “the struggle for environmental justice, morality and the rule of law is not yet over” as there are still 5,176.91 tons of bulk waste languishing on a government land in Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan waiting to be sent home.  

“For the sake of the Tagoloan people’s health and their environment, we call upon the Korean government to continue its fruitful cooperation with the Philippine government to ensure the rapid re-export of these wastes to Pyeongtaek City!,” she said.

Last December 27 and 28, 2018, the governments of the Philippines and South Korea resolved to have the 6,500 tons of illegal garbage re-exported to the latter.  Philippine authorities have determined the waste shipments as “misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health.”

Not forgetting about the 103 containers of reeking Canadian residual wastes disguised as plastic scraps for recycling, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed that “the repatriation of the South Korean garbage to its source should rouse Canada into resolving the festering garbage dumping controversy.”  

It will be recalled that illegal garbage exports from Canada entered the port of Manila in several batches from 2013 to 2014.  In 2015, wastes from 26 of these 103 containers were illegally disposed of at a landfill in Tarlac rubbing salt into the wound.   

Canada ’s indecisiveness to take their reeking garbage back violates the rule of law and is immoral, the  EcoWaste Coalition said.  Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assurance in 2017 that “it is now theoretically possible to get it back,” the Canadian garbage continues to fester with no end in sight, the group lamented.  

The return of the dumped waste to South Korea shows doing the right thing is not just theoretical, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, expressing its hope that Canada will finally come into compliance with the Basel Convention. 

South Korea’s mixed plastic waste cargoes in 51 containers -- wrongly declared as “plastic synthetic flakes” -- were in violation of DENR DAO 2013-22 as per the investigation report by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)– Region 10.  The said regulation, which implements the provisions of Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act), states that “no importation of heterogenous and unsorted plastic materials shall be allowed.”  

EMB inspectors, according to the report, found assorted plastics such as bottles, straws, gloves, shower hose, utensils, toothbrushes, Styrofoams, wrappers and cellophane, as well as textiles, wood, metal rods, vinyl tiles, broken glasses, paper boxes, spray cans, shoes, slippers, gloves, diapers, etc. 

Also found in the shipments were waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE),  popularly known as e-waste, including printers, keyboards, electric fans, cables, cellphone batteries and chargers, dry cell batteries, and LED lamps.

Among the environmental groups present at the send-off rites were the EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace, Bantayo Aweg, Davao Pobre Bikers Association Ecoteneo-Ateneo de Davao University, Interface Development Interventions Inc., No Burn Pilipinas-Mindanao and the Youth for Climate Justice.