30 March 2019

Earth Hour Plea: Ban Single-Use Plastics

Local advocates for a zero waste and toxics-free society are joining a growing chorus of voices seeking effective solutions to the global plastic pollution crisis.

In a press statement coinciding with the observance of the Earth Hour, the EcoWaste Coalition enjoined the government, industries and citizens to switch off tonight in solidarity with the worldwide efforts to protect the environment from single-use plastics – the focus of the Earth Hour this year.

“To halt the chemical and plastic contamination of our water bodies, particularly the oceans, the government has to adopt sweeping policy changes that will address the problem at source, incentivize single-use plastic reduction and disincentivize single-use plastic production, ” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“The government has to get a ban on single-use plastics in place this year as our country’s contribution to the global drive to protect the oceans from further plasticization,” she said

“A National Ban on Plastic and Plastic Products Act will be required to phase out single-use disposable plastics and usher in sustainable resource use.  A National Action Plan will be needed to move our society away from our addiction to throw-away plastics,” she pointed out.

“As for the industries, especially for manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods, we urge them to fast track the replacement of single-use plastic packaging with alternative product delivery systems, like refill and reuse, with a clear plan and timeline,” she said.

“As for our citizens, we urge them to minimize, if not stop, the reckless use and disposal of single-use plastics, and to adopt consumption choices and habits that will lessen the generation of plastic garbage.  We ask every waste generator to manage their discards responsibly to prevent plastics and other wastes from entering the marine environment,” she added.  

The EcoWaste Coalition also took the opportunity to stress the importance of effectively enforcing the country’s key environmental laws such as RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act), RA 9275 (Clean Water Act) and RA 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act) to prevent chemicals and plastics from spilling into the oceans.

These pollution prevention laws, the group stressed, were enacted to protect the environment, including marine waters, from dumping and other environmentally- damaging acts.

According to the UN report “Marine Plastic Debris and Microplastics,” “80 percent of all pollution in the sea comes from land, including some eight million tons of plastic waste each year, that have cost the lives of one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. Moreover, it causes $8 billion in damage annually to marine ecosystems.”





28 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Begs Poll Bets to Prevent Campaign Trash, Stand Up for the Environment ("Keep campaign meetings and sorties litter-free, plastic-free and smoke-free")

As aspiring office-holders in local government units (LGUs) gear up for frenzied campaign activities beginning tomorrow, March 29, a waste and pollution watch group dared all candidates to show their respect for the environment in words and in deeds.

“Our nation is badly in need of local leaders who will bravely take up the cudgels for Mother Earth and all creations amid the unfolding climate, chemical and plastic crisis,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We need dedicated public servants who will help in enforcing laws and regulations that have been or have to be enacted to protect the public health and environment,” she stressed.

“We need leaders who will champion pollution prevention policies and programs to halt the continued degradation of the environment due to wastes and pollutants coming from factories, farms, markets and even from our homes, schools and offices,” she added.

For the information of their constituents, the EcoWaste Coalition urged candidates to add in the protection and preservation of the environment into their campaign platforms.  

As actions speak louder than words, the group reminded candidates to show their being pro-environment by mounting a clean and green campaign. 

“Every campaign material used to woo voters – from paper to plastic – has to go somewhere after the election frenzy is over.  Some of these materials may be reused, repurposed and recycled, and, regrettably, most may end up being buried or burned and wasted forever,” Lucero said.

To prevent and reduce trash during the election campaign, the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged candidates to observe the following pointers:

1.  Stick to lawful propaganda materials and allowable campaign spending.

2.  Avoid campaign materials that are toxic, non-reusable or non-recyclable.

3.  For paper-based campaign materials, use post-consumer recycled paper.

4.  Incorporate this reminder on campaign materials:  “Para sa ating kalusugan at kalikasan, huwag pong ikalat, itambak o sunugin" or its equivalent in local languages.

5.  Keep trees, lamp posts, and other disallowed places poster-free.

6.  Voluntarily take down all illegal campaign materials.

7.  Keep campaign meetings and sorties litter-free, plastic-free and smoke-free.

8.  Shun confetti, firecrackers and balloons in campaign events, and immediately conduct post-event cleanup.

9.  Refrain from using Styrofoam, plastic bags and other single-use containers for meals and drinks.

10.  Remove, repurpose or recycle campaign materials immediately after the polling day.


26 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition: Don't Give Lead-Painted Medals to Student Achievers

A waste and pollution watch group warns against lead-painted medals as school administrators, teachers, parents and students prepare for end of school year graduation and moving up ceremonies next week.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged school authorities to ensure that only lead-safe mementoes are procured and given to outstanding student achievers after finding some cheap, unlabeled medals sold for as low as P25 in Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila tainted with lead paint.

Out of 15 medal samples, nine were found to contain lead in the range of 1,316  to 22,900 parts per million (ppm) as per X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening.  For example, the yellow paint on the six samples of medals bearing the words “Kagawaran ng Edukasyon, Republika ng Pilipinas” were found to contain average lead content of 14,374 ppm.  

“Despite the regulatory ban, we still find school achievement medals decorated with lead paint,” lamented Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Children’s products must be safe from lead, a hazardous substance that is known to harm the brain, decrease intelligence, stunt development and growth, and cause behavioral disorders,” he said.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, prohibits the use of lead in the production of school supplies, as well as prohibits decorative paints with total lead content above the 90 ppm.

While medals were not explicitly mentioned in Department Order No. 4, series of 2017 issued by the Department of Education (DepEd) on the “Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools,” the said directive applies to “paint-coated goods or products directly procured by the school as well as those sourced by other means such as through individual, group, corporate or local government donations,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

To emphasize the importance of toxics-free medals, trophies and the like, the group suggested amending DepEd Department Order No. 36, series of 2016 on “Policy Guidelines on Awards and Recognition for the K to 12 Basic Education Program” to include the safety from lead and other chemicals of concern of things to give to student awardees.

In lieu of medals, schools may opt to award students who have shown academic excellence, leadership and social responsibility with the appropriate certificates of achievement or recognition.

If medals are preferred, the EcoWaste Coalition advised schools to go for plain, unpainted medals unless the paint used is guaranteed compliant with the government’s regulation.

“As added precaution, schools should caution student recipients against playing with or biting painted medals to avoid potential exposure to lead through ingestion,” Dizon said.

According to the World Health Organization, “young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system.”

“The consequences of brain injury from exposure to lead in early life are loss of intelligence, shortening of attention span and disruption of behavior. Because the human brain has little capacity for repair, these effects are untreatable and irreversible,” the WHO said.

“There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” the WHO has warned.



25 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for Plastic-Free Election Campaign in QC (Waste and Pollution Watch Group Seeks Candidates’ Compliance to QC Ban on Polyethylene Plastic Campaign Materials)

A waste and pollution watch group appealed to all local and national candidates and parties campaigning in Quezon City to abide by an environmental ordinance, which if enforced, will help in cutting the volume of plastic waste during the campaign period.

In an event held today outside the COMELEC-Quezon City Field Office, the EcoWaste Coalition urged poll bets to adhere to Quezon City Ordinance No. SP-2202, Series of 2013 “prohibiting polyethylene plastic advertisement and propaganda materials within the territorial jurisdiction of Quezon City.”

The event coincided with the sixth anniversary of the ordinance’s approval on March 25, 2013.

Joining the EcoWaste Coalition in pushing candidates and parties to go “plastic-free” were the Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Green Convergence, Mother Earth Foundation, Piglas Kababaihan, ROTCHNA Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and Sarilaya Pilipinas.

“We have gathered here under the scorching heat to persuade those running for public office to opt for a plastic-free campaign in keeping with QC Ordinance 2202-2013,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Quezon City is already generating too much garbage at 3,610 tons per day.  We cannot overemphasize the need for serious waste reduction efforts such as the citywide ban on polyethylene plastics used for electoral campaign,” she said.

“Single-use plastics like those used to woo voters add to the city’s huge waste production and should be totally avoided,” she added.   “The plasticization of the election campaign is bad for the environment and for democracy, too.”  

To dramatize the problem with the plasticization of the campaign, the participants put up a globe representing Mother Earth that is wrapped with assorted plastic election posters. 

They also  brandished placards reading “mga kandidato: huwag kayong plastik,” “huwag lumikha ng basurang plastik”, and “prevent plastic waste.”

To promote compliance to QC Ordinance 2202-2013, the EcoWaste Coalition have reached out to major political parties vying for the city’s elective positions for them to affirm their adherence to the said measure.

As of this writing, the Serbisyo sa Bayan Party (SBP) led by Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte and the Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino Party (KDP) led by former Representative Chuck Mathay have provided the EcoWaste Coalition with signed “affirmation of commitment” to abide by QC Ordinance 2202-2013.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged the implementing agencies as designated by the ordinance “to remove, dismantle, confiscate, and cause the disposal or recycling of advertisement or propaganda materials made of polyethylene plastic.”

Among the agencies tasked to implement the ordinance are the Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department, Parks Development and Administration Department, Department of Public Order and Safety, and the Quezon City Police District. 

Violators of the ordinance shall be meted the following fines: notice of violation for the first offense; a fine of P3,000 and three-day community service for second offense; and a fine of P5,000 fine and a three-day community service for third offense.

Any firm or corporation caught selling, transporting or in possession of propaganda materials for use or installation in Quezon City shall face a fine of P3,000 up to P5,000 and revocation of mayor’s permit to operate.

Adhering to the ordinance, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out,  will be in line with COMELEC Resolution 10488, which provides for the rules and regulations implementing Republic Act 9006, or the Fair Election Act, in connection with the May 13, 2019 elections.

“In local government units where local legislation governing the use of plastic and other similar materials exist, parties and candidates shall comply with the same,” the resolution from the poll body said.

“Parties and candidates are encouraged to use recyclable and environment-friendly materials and avoid those that contain hazardous chemicals and substances in the production of their campaign and election propaganda,” it further said.



23 March 2019

Toxics Watch Group Bats for Methylene Chloride-Free Paint Removers for Workers' Safety (EcoWaste Coalition Cites US Ban on Deadly Paint Strippers with Methylene Chloride)

The toxics watch group EcoWaste Coalition has called attention to a recent decision by the US government to ban methylene chloride (MC) in paint stripping products for consumer use.

“The regulation banning retail sale in US of paint removers with MC for consumer use sends a clear signal to importers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers in the Philippines about the need to switch to MC-free products,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The prohibition, which is currently limited to consumer use of MC-based paint strippers, should also cover commercial paint and coating removal to prevent workers’ exposure to this toxic chemical,” he added.

Last March 15, 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action after finding the risks to consumers to be unreasonable  resulting in acute fatalities due to exposure to MC.  

“Acute (short-term) exposures to methylene chloride fumes can rapidly cause dizziness, loss of consciousness, and death due to nervous system depression. People have died after being incapacitated during paint and coating removal with methylene chloride,” the EPA said. 

According to the advocacy group “Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families” based in US, “at least 64 people have died from acute exposure to MC since 1980.”  

The EPA has stated that “a variety of effective, less harmful substitutes are readily available for paint removal.”  

To raise local awareness about toxic MC in paint removers, the EcoWaste Coalition partnered with the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) for a forum held last October 2018 with visiting scientist Dr. Greg Morose from the University of Massachusetts Lowell as speaker.

"Based on environmental, health and safety evaluation and performance testing, it is possible to design and test alternatives to methylene chloride based paint strippers that are safer, cost effective, and have equivalent performance," Dr. Morose said.

The EcoWaste Coalition has lauded the positive outcome of Dr. Morose ‘s interaction with the local paint industry.

As a result, at least one major company has begun testing and evaluating MC-free substitutes for their paint removing product, the group said.

Prior to the said forum, the EcoWaste Coalition in July 2018 wrote to the PAPM proposing a voluntary phase-out of MC in paint removers in light of regulatory and industry trends, particularly in the European Union and the USA.  

“We are optimistic that in due time only MC-free paint strippers will be produced and sold for all uses.  This will contribute to a safe working environment for Filipino workers,” Dizon said.  






22 March 2019

Wanted: Clean Water Champions (Candidates for Midterm Elections Urged to Weigh In On the Protection of Water Sources from Waste and Pollution)

A waste and pollution watch group urged candidates and parties for the 2019 midterm elections to enlighten the electorate about their positions on raging water issues and the steps they will take if elected to ensure people’s access to clean water.

Following the Congressional and Senate hearings on the water shortage that tormented consumers in certain parts of Metro Manila and Rizal, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed the importance of having legislative champions who will take up the cudgels for water resources preservation and protection.

The group’s plea for water champions coincided with the observance of World Water Day on March 22, which focuses on Sustainable Development Goal 6, which is to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

“The campaign period offers an opportunity for aspiring politicians for national and local elective posts to inform the voting public about their platforms for clean water,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our water resources are threatened by plastic and chemical pollution, rapid urbanization, declining forests, diminishing watersheds, climate change and ever increasing demand for water,” she said. 

“Holistic policies and measures to deal with these threats are urgently needed to turn the tide and guarantee access to adequate and safe water of present and future generations,” she added.

As this year marks the 15th anniversary of Republic Act 9275, or the Clean Water Act, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed for greater action to protect the country’s fragile water resources from further degradation with focus on pollution prevention at source.

RA 9275, signed by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on March 22, 2004, applies to water quality management in all water bodies, particularly on abatement and control of pollution from land based sources. 

“We hope candidates and parties will support the strengthening of RA 9275 through the integration of a framework of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals from factories, farms and households,” Lucero said.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope that candidates and parties will weigh in on some of the raging water-related issues, including, but not limited to the following :

--- Production of single-use plastics, especially as packaging for fast-moving consumer goods, that end up polluting the rivers and the world’s oceans;

--- Use of plastic microbeads as ingredient in cosmetic and cleansing products that contribute to microplastic pollution in water and marine life; 

---  Discharge of chemical pollutants and other wastes from industrial, agricultural, and household sources into waterways and water bodies;

---  Shrinking forests and watersheds due to deforestation, illegal logging, mining, urbanization, and construction of large dams, etc.; and

---  Continued operation of garbage dumpsites, especially in ecologically-sensitive areas, including Manila Bay .





19 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Calls Out Health Authorities for Long-Overdue Ban on Bisphenol A in Baby Feeding Ware (Draft DOH Administrative Order Banning Bisphenol A in Baby Feeding Bottles and Sippy Cups Pending Since 2013)

A waste and pollution watch group urged the country’s health authorities to promulgate a long-overdue policy that should have protected babies from Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used in hard plastic, which is linked to endocrine and reproductive disorders.

Through a letter delivered last week to the offices of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno, the EcoWaste Coalition stated that “BPA, an endocrine disrupting and reprotoxic chemical, should not be present in children’s products, especially in food contact materials such as feeding bottles and sippy cups.”

The group noted that a draft DOH Administrative Order entitled the “Prohibition on the Manufacture, Importation, Advertisement and Sale of Polycarbonate Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups Containing Bisphenol A in the Philippines” has been pending since 2013.

“The over-extended delay in promulgating the government’s policy on BPA in feeding bottles and sippy cups is very difficult to justify, especially when the products in question are typically used by a large sector of the society --- the children --- who are most vulnerable to the adverse health impacts of chemical exposures.  We  cannot delay action when it comes to children's safety from chemicals of concern,” wrote Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition. 

According to the World Health Organization, “children are not little adults, they have special vulnerabilities to the toxic effects of chemicals.  (Their) exposure to chemicals at critical stages in their physical and cognitive development may have severe long-term consequences for health.”

“DOH Secretaries Enrique Ona, Janette Loreto-Garin and Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial have come and gone, but the directive banning BPA in feeding bottles and sippy cups remains on the back burner since 2013,” wrote Sison.

“Under your watch, we hope the much-awaited regulation will see the light of day in the weeks to come,” Sison told Duque. 

At the first DOH-organized stakeholders’ consultation held in 2013, the EcoWaste Coalition and Arugaan (a breastfeeding advocacy group) pushed for a precautionary ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups citing the regulatory moves in other countries to address growing consumers’ health and safety concerns against BPA

During the deliberations, the groups pushed for consumer right to information via uniform, visible and truthful product labels that will indicate if a product is BPA-free or not.  They also expressed support for the inclusion of a provision that will disallow the substitution of BPA with alternatives that can also lead to adverse health effects.

The EcoWaste Coalition has been constantly pursuing the matter with the DOH and lately with the FDA via follow-up letters, including two petitions signed by over 70 concerned civil society organizations.

The plan of the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to ban BPA in food contact materials intended for infants and young children prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to write anew to the DOH and FDA on February 11, 2019 to check on the government’s response to the group’s appeal to prohibit BPA in baby feeding bottles and sippy cups.

To date, over 35 countries have already banned BPA, particularly in baby feeding bottles, including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Africa, Thailand, USA and the 28-country European Union, with France banning BPA in all food contact materials in 2015.  China, the country’s largest trading partner, banned BPA in baby feeding bottles as early as June 2011.

In January 2017, the European Chemical Agency added BPA to the candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) for authorization because it is “toxic for reproduction.”  BPA’s inclusion to the said list was updated in January 2018 due to its “endocrine disrupting properties.”








17 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Exposes Rampant Sale of Mercury-Contaminated Skin Care Products from Pakistan banned by FDA

Four of five “made in Pakistan” skin whitening cosmetics banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing dangerous levels of mercury are openly sold over the counter at shopping mall stores in Pasay City.

The EcoWaste Coalition bared the illegal trade after purchasing yesterday, March 16, banned  Pakistani mercury-laden facial creams from cosmetic retailers at Baclaran Terminal Plaza Mall and Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza for P225 to P300 each. 

“We are dismayed by the nonstop and remorseless trade of unregistered skin lightening products from Pakistan containing extremely high levels of mercury way above the permissible limit of 1 part per million (ppm),” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Mercury, a highly toxic substance, is not permitted for use as an ingredient in cosmetic products such as skin whitening creams, lotions and soaps as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  To protect human health and the environment, governments through the Minamata Convention on Mercury have targeted a global phase-out of skin whitening cosmetics with mercury above 1 ppm by 2020,” he said.

Among the items bought by the group and subsequently screened for mercury using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device were Parley Herbal Whitening Cream with 32,200 parts per million (ppm) of mercury; Goree Beauty Cream with 21,700 ppm; Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream with 17,800 ppm, and Golden Pearl Beauty Cream with 10,000 ppm of mercury.

The FDA issued an advisory last March 5, 2019 banning two variants of Parley for containing mercury beyond the 1 ppm limit.  Similar advisories were also issued against two types of Goree on October 30, 2017.  Golden Pearl was among the mercury-tainted products banned by the FDA through an advisory released on September 8, 2014.

According to the latest FDA advisory: “Adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring. Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance to against bacterial and fungal infections.  Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.”

“The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA warned.

To put a stop to the illicit trade of mercury-contaminated skin lightening products from Pakistan and elsewhere, the EcoWaste Coalition called upon the FDA to conduct sustained law enforcement efforts, including on-the-spot confiscation of banned products and preventive closure of erring business establishments.

As mercury-containing products should not be simply landfilled or incinerated, the group also urged the FDA to coordinate with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ensure the environmentally-sound management of confiscated goods. 

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise pressed the FDA to keep an eye on cosmetics from Pakistan that are being sold in the Philippines without proper notification or registration.

Aside from Parley, which the FDA banned recently, the group on March 26, 2018 notified the FDA about the sale of other Pakistan-made skin whitening creams laden with mercury such as Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, and Face Lift Whitening Beauty Cream.

Pakistan, like the Philippines, is grappling with the issue of mercury-contaminated skin care products in the market, the EcoWaste Coalition said.  

The group cited the report "Mercury Poisoning Associated with International and Local Skin Whitening Creams in Pakistan" published in November 2018, which shows that 56 of the 59 samples analyzed for total mercury content had mercury above the allowable limit of 1 ppm, of which 28 percent had mercury greater than 10,000 ppm.

The study results prompted State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul to announce at a workshop held in Islamabad on February 14, 2019 that “the ministry will take up this matter and issue notices to the companies for producing such harmful beauty creams and items explicitly posing serious health complications and even cancer.”

The anticipated action by the Pakistani government against mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition said, should help in curbing the proliferation of such products in the Philippines.



FDA Advisory vs Parley:
FDA Advisory vs Goree:
FDA Advisory vs Golden Pearl:
Report: "Mercury Poisoning Associated with International and Local Skin Whitening Creams in Pakistan"
Source of the quote from State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul:

15 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition to Water Regulators and Water Companies: “Water is a consumer and human right”


As millions of Manila Water customers continue to suffer from water scarcity, a waste and pollution watch group appealed to water resource regulators as well as to water companies to ensure public access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water supply.

In a press statement coinciding with today’s observance of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD), the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the role of public authorities and private corporations as duty bearers in guaranteeing people’s access to water

“As duty bearers, we urge water agencies and companies to do everything that is necessary to alleviate the sufferings of those affected by the water shortage.  We join our citizens, as right holders, in reminding those responsible for realizing our human right to water to find a long-lasting solution to our water woes,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

In reference to the P18.7 billion Kaliwa Dam project in the Sierra Madre to be funded by China, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated that any solution to the water scarcity being faced by water consumers in the East Zone of Metro Manila should not disrespect the rights of other right holders, particularly the indigenous peoples (IPs).

“We are one with the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance and the IP communities in seeking the genuine restoration of watersheds and forests and in opposing all destructive development projects, especially the construction of new mega-dams, within the Sierra Madre,” Dizon added.

Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, Spokesperson of the Commission on Human Rights, yesterday said that:   “In finding a resolution to this problem, we hope that ways forward would always be mindful of the rights of others, such as those of IP communities in developing dams, and would always to the benefit of the majority of Filipinos.”

In asserting the people’s right to water, the EcoWaste Coalition cited Resolution 64/292 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 explicitly recognizing the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledging that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

The group also cited the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the 2015 UN Summit, which includes Goal No. 6 that seeks to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

Water, which is a basic entitlement of all people, should be, according to the United Nations:

Sufficient: The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene.”

Safe: The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person's health.”

Acceptable: Water should be of an acceptable color, odor and taste for each personal or domestic use, and all water facilities and services must be culturally appropriate and sensitive to gender, lifecycle and privacy requirements.”

Physically accessible: Everyone has the right to a water and sanitation service that is physically accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity of the household, educational institution, workplace or health institution.”

Affordable: Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all.”




14 March 2019

Water Shortage Is Also Causing Increased Use of Disposables, More Garbage

The ongoing water service interruption affecting customers of Manila Water in Metro Manila and adjacent places may be increasing the demand for disposable products and packaging, and thus more garbage.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, aired this concern as water supply in Manila Water-served areas remains difficult with the water concessionaire announcing six to 20 hours of daily service interruption until the start of the rainy season.

Due to the continuing water shortage affecting six million people in the East Zone of Metro Manila, some eateries have turned to disposable plates, spoons, forks and cups, mostly plastic-based, to avoid the use of water.  Some sellers even wrapped plates with thin film plastic bags to avoid washing them.

“The increased demand for disposable items during this time of water scarcity will surely add to the volume of residual garbage that generators from households to business establishments churn out every day,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With taps running dry, we fear that more people and businesses will be encouraged to buy and use more single-use plastic disposables during the waterless period,” she added.

As the World Consumer Rights Day is observed tomorrow, March 15, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded Manila Water and the country’s water authorities that access to clean water, a basic need, is a fundamental consumer and human right.

“It’s sad that many Filipinos will mark the World Consumer Rights Day in long queues for water rationed by Manila Water,” Lucero said.

“The water shortage, we hope, will be resolved soon to satisfy the people’s right to water, a basic consumer and human right, and to discourage the wasteful use of plastic disposables,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier joined the chorus calling for water conservation amidst the water shortage.

The group urged households, as well as private and public establishments, to intensify water saving measures as the dry spell marches on.

“Let us all aim for zero water waste to reduce the impacts of low water supply during the summer months to the people, especially the poor, and the environment,” the group said.

To cut on water wastage, the EcoWaste  Coalition has suggested the following  water conservation 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.


12 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Pitches for Water Conservation as Water Level in La Mesa Dam Continues to Drop

As the water level in La Mesa Dam plunged to its lowest level in 12 years amid the EL Niño phenomenon, an environmental watch group wasted no time in urging water consumers to conserve water all the more.

The EcoWaste Coalition sought the cooperation of Metro Manila’s households, estimated at 3.10 million, to take water conservation more seriously in the wake of the El Niño in the Pacific region.

The group also urged private and public establishments to intensify water conservation measures in light of the decreased fresh water supply as the dry spell marches on.

“We join our water authorities in asking households, businesses and government institutions in Metro Manila to use water more wisely amid the declining water level in Angat, Ipo and La Mesa Dams,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Let us all aim for zero water waste to reduce the impacts of low water supply during the summer months to the people, especially the poor, and the environment,” she said.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) had earlier appealed to the public to save water as water in the La Mesa reservoir dropped from its normal high water level of 80.15 meters to 69.47 meters, the lowest in 12 years.

To encourage all sectors to cut on water use and wastage, the EcoWaste  Coalition has released the following  water conservation 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.



Number of households in Metro Manila:

07 March 2019

Mercury in Cosmetics: A Serious Threat to Women and Babies, Too (Aspiring lawmakers urged to craft special law on adulterated and counterfeit cosmetics)

Variants of banned mercury-contaminated Jiaoli and S’Zitang skin whitening cosmetic, two of the most popular skin whitening facial creams, being sold in the market.
The unabated sale of skin whitening cosmetics contaminated with mercury poses a serious threat to the health of Filipino women and children, including babies in the womb.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, cited this toxic threat to women’s and children’s health as the nation celebrates the International Women’s Day tomorrow, March 8.

“Health authorities, particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have made considerable efforts to curb the illegal sale of mercury contaminated cosmetics such as skin lightening or whitening facial creams,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Current efforts have not, however, been adequate to put an end to the continued proliferation of such dangerous products in the market.  FDA-banned products like Jiaoli and S’Zitang from China are still being sold with impunity,” he noted.

“As we mark this special day for women, we urge national and local government agencies to strengthen their collaboration to stop this unlawful trade through vigorous and sustained law enforcement actions that will protect our women and children, including the unborn, from the harmful effects of mercury exposure,” he said.

“As prevailing laws and regulations, including fines and penalties for non-compliance, are insufficient to stop the sale of these dangerous products,  we urge aspiring Senators and District Representatives to craft a special law on adulterated and counterfeit cosmetics like what Congress did to curb the spread of spurious medicines,” he suggested.

“Erring importers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers must be held accountable and brought before the bar to show zero tolerance for such illicit act,” he emphasized.

Mercury in skin whitening products inhibits the production of melanin pigment leading to a “fairer” skin tone.  However, mercury can cause damage the nervous, immune and renal systems, and also cause skin discoloration, rashes, and scarring, as well as reduce dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. 

Mercury can also affect the endocrine and reproductive systems.  Studies have shown that increased mercury levels in the body have been linked with hormonal and menstrual disorders, infertility and miscarriage.

“Babies in the womb are not spared as mercury can cross the placenta during pregnancy and affect the developing brain and nervous system causing cognitive development problems. Fetuses, infants and young children are susceptible to mercury toxicity,” Dizon said.

According to the report “Mercury in Women of Child-Bearing Age in 25 Countries published by the Biodiversity Research Institute and IPEN, a global NGO network for a toxics-free future that includes the EcoWaste Coalition, “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 products can also contaminate the environment, including the food chain, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.

Information from the World Health Organization indicates that “mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish.”

To protect consumers against mercury in some skin whitening cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Filipinos, especially women and girls, to take pride in our natural skin complexion.

“There is beauty and dignity in our ‘kayumangging kaligatan,’ so refrain from using skin bleaching, lightening or whitening products, particularly cosmetics that have not gone through formal notification or registration with the FDA and not guaranteed safe from mercury, hydroquinone and other harmful substances,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The group also advised consumers to insist on their right to product information, including chemical ingredients comprising a product, and to reject products with zero or incomplete label or with non-English labeling information unless English translation is provided.




05 March 2019

Public Reminded to Observe Ban on Open Burning as the Nation Marks the Fire Prevention Month

As the yearly Fire Prevention Month is observed this March, the EcoWaste Coalition enjoined the public not to burn household garbage, as well as garden or farm waste, during the dry and hot weather.

The zero waste advocacy group said that burning discards in the open can cause fire and pollution that can endanger people’s health and lives.

“Open burning, especially during the dry and hot season, can cause destructive fires in our communities, while permanently destroying resources that can be reused, recycled or composted and generating toxic smoke and ash,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Open burning can cause particulate matter pollution, as well as dioxin pollution, that can trigger illness, especially among young children, the elderly and people with chemical sensitivities.  Pollutants from open burning can also affect unborn fetuses,” she said.

“Because of its bad effects on health and the environment, national environmental laws and related local ordinances have rightly prohibited the open burning of garbage,” she said.

Tolentino cited Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act, as two major environmental laws banning and penalizing open burning.

Section 48 of RA 9003, in particular, 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.

To draw attention to this public health and environmental menace, the EcoWaste Coalition released a new poster that says “Stop Burning Garbage,” with a clear-cut reminder that “burning garbage produces toxic pollutants that can harm public health and the environment.”

Among these toxic contaminants resulting from open burning activities, especially when materials containing chlorine are burned, are byproduct dioxins and furans that are targeted for global reduction, if not elimination, under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

Other open burning pollutants capable of contaminating the air and even our food sources include heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, and fine particles or particulate matter.

These pollutants are known to cause a variety of health problems such as headaches, eye, throat and skin irritation, impaired respiratory functions, aggravated asthma and chronic bronchitis, heart attacks and even cancers, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.

The group encouraged all waste generators and regulators to  work for the "adoption of the best practice in ecological waste management excluding incineration" in keeping with the declared policies of R.A. 9003.




01 March 2019

Safe E-Waste Management Project in Caloocan City to Benefit Recyclers, Protect the Environment (Government-backed e-waste facility to rise in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City)

E-waste event participants representing e-waste collectors, dismantlers and consolidators operating in Caloocan City.

A collaborative project that seeks to promote the environmentally-sound management of discarded electrical or electronic devices, or what is commonly referred to as e-waste, has gotten off to a good start.

At an event that drew participants from various stakeholders, especially from e-waste collectors, dismantlers and recyclers, project collaborators gathered in Barangay 176 in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City to put up a signage for the planned E-Waste Category F.1 Treatment, Storage and Disposal (TSD) Facility in the pilot area.

“We are here together to mark a new chapter in our effort to promote the environmentally-sound management of e-waste so that their hazardous components do not end up contaminating the environment, specifically our water bodies, which serve as our main source of food and other resource needs,” announced Atty. Jonas Leones, Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs,  Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).  

The soon-to-be erected facility to be manned by trained personnel coming from the ranks of local informal recyclers will be used to store collected e-waste, particularly old and busted TVs, prior to being transferred for proper dismantling and recycling at the Laguna-based Integrated Recycling Industries (IRI), a company specializing in the reclamation and recycling of useful materials from e-waste.

Speaking on behalf of the host community of 300,000 residents, Barangay 176 Chairman Joel Bacolod said: “Barangay Bagong Silang, being the largest barangay in the country, is pleased to set an example as ‘cause champion’ in environmental management and advocacy, especially in the way we handle unwanted electrical and electronic goods.”

Dr. Carmela Centeno, Industrial Development Officer at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna, Austria, lauded the initiative as “a concrete demonstration of the stakeholders’ commitment to address the e-waste challenge in a way that will protect waste workers from health-damaging exposure to hazardous substances in e-waste such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) from cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and abate environmental impacts of e-waste recycling.”

Informal waste recycler leaders Benedicto Nario, Domingo Sales and Claire Astoveza welcomed the safe e-waste management project in their community as they reiterated their common aspiration to have a decent and safe recycling-based livelihood for all.

“The integration of the informal e-waste collectors, dismantlers and recyclers into a formal system for managing such hazardous waste materials, we hope, will lessen occupational safety and health problems related to informal e-waste recycling and protect the environment, too,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.   

The establishment of the said e-waste facility is made possible by the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented in the country by UNIDO through the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau.

The unveiling of facility signage coincided with the commemoration of two important happenings: the International Waste Pickers’ Day on March 1, and the 15th anniversary of the Philippine ratification of Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) on February 27.