31 August 2019

Group Backs Neutral, As Well as Lead-Safe, Desks for Students

The environmental and health advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the signing of a new law requiring all schools to provide neutral desks to all students.

On August 22, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act 11394, or the "Mandatory Provision of Neutral Desks in Educational Institutions Act," addressing the needs of left-handed students for appropriate writing desks.

At the same time, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded school authorities to ensure that student chairs and tables should be compliant to Department of Education (DepEd) Order No.4, series of 2017 requiring the use of lead-safe coatings or paints in all preparatory, elementary and secondary schools.

“We welcome the obligatory provision of neutral desks to all students as this will prevent neck, shoulder and back strain associated with the use of regular armchairs by left-handed students.  With the provision of such desks, we can expect all students to sit and study comfortably,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, who is left-handed himself.

Under a proposed DepEd five-year replacement plan, the 18 million armchairs currently used in public schools nationwide could be replaced with neutral desks at a cost of over P16 million per year.

“As the non-neutral desks are replaced with neutral ones, we remind school authorities to ensure that all replacements are not coated with lead-containing paints consistent with the DepEd directive on the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in schools,” he added.

According to DepEd Order No. 4 issued by Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones in 2017, “lead is one of the identified toxic and regulated chemicals that pose hazards and risks to human health and the environment.” 

“Use of lead-safe paints shall reduce children’s exposure to toxic lead via lead-containing paint and dust, thus, avoiding health impacts including learning disabilities, anemia and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial, and language skills,” DepEd said.

To avoid children’s exposure to lead, “the use of independently certified lead-safe paints/coatings shall be mandatory to all painting and/or repainting works of school facilities, building, amenities, other structures, furniture, fixtures, learning materials, tools and equipment,” according to DepEd.

While the replacement plan for the non-neutral desks is being implemented, the EcoWaste Coalition further requested the government to initiate an inventory of painted desks in all the country’s schools .

The inventory should help the authorities in devising an action plan to screen painted desks for lead content and to prioritize the replacement of those desks that could pose lead exposure risk to students, the group said.







29 August 2019

Toxics Watchdog Chides Online Sellers of Banned Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Creams

An environmental and health advocacy group chided online entrepreneurs for continuing to ignore public health warnings against skin whitening cosmetics containing mercury, a highly toxic chemical.

In a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed strong objection over the use of online shopping platforms Lazada and Shopee to sell skin lightening creams from Pakistan that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had already banned way back in 2014 and 2017 due to their mercury content.

“The continued online sale of these mercury-contaminated skin whitening products is a direct defiance of our country’s cosmetic safety regulations,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“For the health and well-being of our consumers, we ask third-party dealers to desist from selling poison cosmetics that are laced with high concentrations of mercury,” he said.

“We also ask the management of Lazada and Shopee to tighten their policies and procedures to block the promotion and sale of cosmetics lacking market authorization from the FDA, especially products containing hidden toxic ingredients such as mercury,” he added. 

The group on Wednesday tracked cosmetic advertisements posted at Lazada and Shopee and found several dealers selling FDA-banned skin whiteners from Pakistan, namely Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, Goree Beauty Cream, and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream.

Golden Pearl Beauty Cream was among the seven cosmetic products submitted by the EcoWaste Coalition to the FDA in 2014, which  the agency tested and confirmed to contain violative level of mercury beyond the 1 part per million (ppm) limit set by the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

In 2017, the FDA also tested and found the two variants of Goree skincare products contaminated with mercury above the 1 ppm limit.

To protect consumer health, the FDA issued advisories to urge the public not to purchase the said products, and to warn concerned establishments not to distribute them.

The  FDA further requested all local government units (LGUs) and law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to ensure that these non-compliant products are not sold or made available in their localities or areas of jurisdiction.

Mercury in skin whitening products inhibits the production of melanin pigment leading to a “fairer” skin tone.  However, mercury can cause damage to 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 as confirmed by health experts.

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,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

The Minamata Convention, which the Philippine government signed but not yet ratified, targets a global phase-out of skin whitening cosmetics such as creams, lotions and soaps with mercury above 1 ppm by 2020.

The government recently drew up a National Action Plan for the phase-out of mercury-added products, including skin whitening cosmetics, and the management of their associated wastes.

“We need to put an end to the illegal trade of mercury-containing skin lightening cosmetics, including their sale through online shopping platforms,“ the EcoWaste Coalition said, “to protect public health and the environment from the adverse impacts of mercury poisoning.”



Relevant FDA Advisories:



Examples of Lazada and Shopee Advertisements for Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Cosmetics from Pakistan:












28 August 2019

Group Hopes PRRD’s Latest Foreign Trash Rant Will Turn Into a Strong Policy Banning Waste Importation

The EcoWaste Coalition renewed its call on the government to ban foreign waste importation following the latest presidential diatribe against waste from other countries being dumped into our shores.

Last Wednesday, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, speaking at the inauguration of a solar power project in Tablas Island, province of Romblon, lambasted developed countries anew for shipping their garbage to the Philippines in the guise of recycling.

“We had that experience of Canada and the rest of the industrialized countries exporting their garbage in the guise that they can still be used,” said the President.  “I’d like to say to the Western countries, do not make us a garbage dump.”

“The president’s abhorrence against garbage from overseas being dumped into our ports, which is shared by many if not all Filipinos, should be translated into a robust policy that will proactively prevent such a bad practice from continuing,” suggested Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our country needs to impose a total ban, not simply a moratorium, on waste imports to send a clear and unequivocal signal to trash traders and traffickers that sending contaminated plastics and other wastes to the Philippines is no longer a profitable option for them,” she said.

The group also repeated its call for the immediate re-export of 5,177 tons of contaminated plastic waste materials from South Korea, part of which caught fire last August 12, and the 211 tons of waste-derived processed engineered fuel from Australia, which are languishing in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

The EcoWaste Coalition and over a dozen public interest groups had earlier asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to completely and permanently ban all waste imports.

“If a complete ban is not enforced, would the authorities have enough trained personnel to actually sniff out all shipments of ‘recyclables’ that could contain hazardous materials in all ports?,” the groups asked.   

The EcoWaste Coalition also reiterated the need for the Duterte government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which aims to prohibit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling.

Two more ratifications from a list of eligible countries are required for the Basel Ban Amendment to enter into force.

The Philippines is one of the 24 countries whose ratification would count toward bringing the amendment into legal force, the group noted.  

“We believe President Duterte and his Cabinet appreciate this historic opportunity and will prioritize the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment and its eventual transmittal to the Senate this year for the required concurrence,” Lucero said.

A cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the DENR has concluded that the Philippines has the capacity to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment based on net positive assessment. 


Reference for PRRD’s latest statement on foreign waste:

23 August 2019

Ban Single-Use Plastics! – groups demand

“We can’t drown in single-use plastics (SUPs)! Ban SUPs now!”

This was the reverberating call echoed by more than 100 individuals representing civil society organizations, students, as well as local governments during today’s “Plastic 101” event that drew attention to the plastic pollution crisis and the need for sustainable solutions.

The call came in response to the ever growing problems caused by SUPs.

“We are drowning in plastics and dying inch by inch from their toxic releases!,” exclaimed Jovito “Jove” Benosa, Zero Waste Program Officer of EcoWaste Coalition. 

According to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative (GAIA) report Plastics Exposed, each day, the country produces around “164 million pieces of sachets”, “48 million shopping bags” and “45.2 million pieces” of so called “plastic labo bag”.

“SUPs, which are designed for the dump (or for the fire), clearly have no place in an environment designed for perpetual recycling of resources that will truly promote and sustain life and health of this planet’s inhabitants,” Benosa continued.

“In view of this, the only way to deal with SUPs is to phase them all out,” he maintained.

Benosa pointed out that the country “in fact, has an existing law, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or RA 9003, which has clear mandate in Sections 29 and 30 to the National Solid Waste Management Commission to list down for a scheduled phase out non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging.”

“The law clearly singles out SUPs and similar products in its definition of non-environmentally acceptable in Section 3 (m): ‘re-usable, biodegradable or compostable, recyclable and not toxic or hazardous to the environment,’” he stressed.

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

The report explains that once in the environment, plastics “slowly fragments into smaller particles” where they contaminate the air, water, and soil, “accumulate in food chains, and release toxic additives or concentrate additional toxic chemicals in the environment, making them bioavailable again…”

To date, two related bills have been filed before the Philippine Senate to deal with these issues on SUPs: “An Act Regulating the Use of Plastic Bags, and for Other Purposes,” filed on 1 July 2019 by Sen. Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay and “An Act Regulating the Manufacturing, Importation and Use of Single-Use Plastic Products, and Providing Penalties, Levies and An Incentives System for Industries, Business Enterprises and Consumers Thereof,” filed on 1 July 2019 by Francis "Kiko" N. Pangilinan.

The Plastic 101 event was organized by Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) and EcoWaste Coalition to provide a venue for stakeholders to discuss issues with SUPs. ###


The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000

19 August 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Warns Against Lead-Laden Light Up Toy Swords

An environmental advocacy group campaigning against lead poisoning, especially among children, has revealed the sale in the local market of light up toy swords contaminated with lead, a health-damaging chemical.

Taking its cue from a product recall order in the United Kingdom (UK) last August 12 for a China-made light up toy sword due to its lead content, the EcoWaste Coalition over the weekend procured eight samples of such toys for P40 to P100 each from toy wholesalers and retailers in Divisoria, Manila.

The light up toy sword recalled in UK contains a silver paint with lead measuring 112 parts per million (ppm).  “A child may put the toy in the mouth,” the recall order said, noting that “exposure to lead is harmful for human health and cause developmental neurotoxicity.”

“We bought some light up toy swords, also known as flashing stick or Star Wars lightsabers, to check if such toys sold locally do not present a lead exposure risk to their young users,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, the group detected lead on two of the eight samples of light up toy swords.

One has 136 ppm of lead and the other has 944 ppm, exceeding the 90 ppm maximum regulatory limit for lead in paint.  Also, three of the samples were found to contain high levels of antimony and bromine. 

“We also found all the eight samples unlabeled or mislabeled with important information as age grading, cautionary warning and manufacturer’s marking missing,” he added.

“We therefore urge consumers to take the necessary precaution when buying toys for their loved ones.   Please exercise your right to product information, as well as your right to be protected against hazardous chemicals in products,” he said.

According  to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.”

“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 WHO warned.

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




17 August 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Bats for Refiling of Senate Bill Banning Bisphenol A in Baby Food Packaging, Containers and Other Child Articles

Following the decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban industrial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic infant feeding bottles and sippy cups, an environmental and health advocacy group wasted no time urging senators to re-file a Senate bill prohibiting the said substance in baby food packaging, containers and other child care articles.

“The re-filing and expedited consideration of the Senate bill authored by Senators Nancy Binay and Koko Pimentel, which was recommended for approval by two Senate Committees of the 17th Congress, is very timely as this will reinforce the recently-issued ban on BPA in infant feeding bottles and sippy cups,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Last August 9, DOH Usec. and concurrent FDA OIC Rolando Enrique Domingo issued FDA Circular 2019-004 “to better protect the health of the children and better reduce exposure” to BPA, a known endocrine disrupting  chemical or EDC.

At the last Congress, the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship and the Committee on Health and Demography recommended the approval of Senate Bill 2170 entitled "An Act Prohibiting the Use of BPA in Baby Food Packaging, Containers and Other Child Care Articles, Providing for Its Replacement with Safer Alternatives,” with Senators Binay and Pimentel as authors.

The committee report recommending the approval of the said bill  was signed by 14 senators from both the majority and minority blocs of the  17th Congress, nine of whom are sitting as members of the 18th Congress, including Senators Binay and Pimentel as well as Senators Sonny Angara, Franklin Drilon, Win Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Ralph Recto, and Juan Miguel Zubiri. 

“It will be a great service for the nation, especially for our young children, if our incumbent lawmakers will re-file and re-approve this public health measure, which has already hurdled and passed the required legislative deliberations,” Dizon added.

Senate Bill 2170 states that “no person or entity shall manufacture, sell, import or distribute in commerce 1) any baby food or beverage packaging, container or any child care article containing BPA, and 2) any infant formula or baby food stored in a packaging, container or children care article containing BPA.”

The bill further states that “manufacturers of child care articles are duty-bound to use safer alternatives as replacement of BPA.”

Under this bill, violators shall be fined not less than P50,000 but not more than P300,000, or imprisoned for not less than one year but not more than five years or both, upon the discretion of the court.

The bill assigns the Department of Trade and Industry as the implementing agency in coordination with the Departments of Health and Interior and Local Government.

According to a guide published by the Endocrine Society and IPEN (a civil society network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices), “most people are exposed by consuming food and beverages into which BPA has leached from the container.”  The leaching is said to be enhanced by environmental factors such as heat, sunlight, and acidity,

“As of 2014, nearly 100 epidemiological studies have been published associating BPA with human health effects, most notably disorders of reproduction, behavior and energy balance,” the guide reported. 

“Several agencies including the WHO and the National Toxicology Program have expressed concern regarding the impact of BPA on fetal brain development and behavior. Evidence from numerous animal models has shown that developmental BPA exposure elevates anxiety, aggression, and other behaviors effects, which have now been reported in children,” the guide noted.






14 August 2019

Groups Laud Ban on Toxic Bisphenol A (BPA) in Baby Feeding Bottles and Sippy Cups

Environmental and health groups lauded the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for issuing a circular prohibiting the manufacture, importation and distribution of baby feeding bottles and sippy cups containing Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that is commonly used in polycarbonate plastic.

The EcoWaste Coalition (a group that envisions a zero waste and toxics-free society) and Arugaan (a group that seeks to protect, promote and support breastfeeding) jointly commended the FDA for promulgating the BPA ban on August 9, 2019 after a long wait.

To recall, the EcoWaste Coalition and Arugaan, with support from over 70 civil society organizations formally petitioned the DOH in 2013 and 2014 to impose a ban on BPA in baby feeding bottles and sippy cups in light of global trends in BPA regulatory policy.  The groups have since then pressed DOH and FDA officials to take action against BPA for children’s health and safety.

Through FDA Circular 2019-004 that was uploaded yesterday in the agency’s website, the Philippines finally joined an expanding league of countries prohibiting BPA in baby feeding bottles and sippy cups, including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, USA and the 28-country European Union.

“The promulgation of this public health policy, which has been pending since 2013, is a pollution prevention measure that will help in reducing our children’s exposure to BPA, a substance of very high concern that interferes with normal endocrine function and with normal reproduction,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“The BPA ban, if effectively enforced, will protect the most vulnerable members of our society, the children, from this hidden toxin in polycarbonate plastic feeding bottles and cups.  Studies have indicated that BPA can leach, get into the food, and ultimately add to the synthetic chemicals contaminating our bodies,” said Ines Fernandez, Executive Director, Arugaan.

Both groups vow to assist the health authorities in promoting awareness and compliance to the BPA ban, while promoting collective actions to safeguard, advocate for and support breastfeeding, and to reduce chemical and waste pollution of our communities.

According to the FDA, “relevant epidemiological studies have shown that BPA affect the development of the nervous, immune and reproductive system and considered as endocrine disruptors which can alter the hormonal system of the human body. Extensive use of BPA in manufacturing products that come in contact with food increases the risk of exposure to this compound, mainly through the digestive tract.” 

The said FDA Circular will apply to “infant feeding bottles and sippy cups as child care article products containing BPA and the establishments that are engaged in the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offer for sale, distribution, donation, transfer, and where applicable, the use, testing, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of any child care articles containing BPA.”

Signed by DOH Usec. Rolando Enrique Domingo, concurrent FDA Officer-in-Charge, the Circular provides for the following: 

a. The manufacture, importation and distribution of infant feeding bottle and sippy cups containing Bisphenol A (BPA) will not be allowed.

b.  All concerned establishments will  be given six (6) months phase-out period to recall from the market all infant feeding bottles and sippy cups containing BPA.

c.  It will be the responsibility of the manufacturer, trader, importer, distributor or wholesaler to conduct recall of their products to ensure that infant feeding bottles and sippy cups containing BPA, are removed from the market and will no longer be made available to the market after the phase-out period.

d. The manufacturer, importer and/or distributor of the banned products will conduct inventory and submit a report to the FDA one (1) month after the given phase-out period.

e.  The manufacturer, importer and/or distributor of the banned products will prepare a disposal plan in accordance with Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) rules and regulation subject to FDA approval.

Any establishment found to be in violation of the provisions of the said FDA Circular will be subjected to sanctions and penalties as prescribed under RA 9711 and its IRR.

The said circular will take effect 30 days after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation and its submission to the Office of the National Administrative Register at UP Law Center.




13 August 2019

EcoWaste Coalitions Urges Government to Leave No Stone Unturned in Verde Soko Fire Investigation

Photo Courtesy of Rep. Juliette Uy

The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has thrown its support behind the call made by Misamis Oriental 2nd District Representative urging the authorities to investigate the fire that destroyed part of the 5,177 tons of illegal waste materials from South Korea that are due for re-export next month.

In her Facebook post yesterday, Uy posted photos of the burning waste materials as she sought for “immediate arson investigation.”  Her post can be seen here:

“I appeal to the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to immediately go to the Phividec industrial estate to investigate and arrest all those responsible for this air pollution crime," she said.

In reaction, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition said: “We strongly deplore the fire incident that has only aggravated the pollution brought about by the dumping of illegal mixed plastic waste shipments from South Korea on a government land in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.”

“We urge concerned law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in the investigation being conducted to bring the culprits to justice,” she added.

The perpetrators of this crime should be held liable under the country’s law on arson, as well as Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.  

The open burning of mixed plastic wastes, which are mainly comprised of chlorinated compounds, has certainly resulted to the discharge of toxic and poisonous fumes that are detrimental to human health and the environment, the group said.  

Among the contaminants resulting from the burning of chlorinated materials are byproduct dioxins and furans, which are targeted for global reduction, if not elimination, under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

Other pollutants of concern resulting from open burning 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.

According to RA 8749, “no person shall be allowed to burn any materials in any quantities which shall cause the emission of toxic and poisonous fumes.” 

“Such materials include but not limited to plastic, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, paints, ink, wastes containing heavy metals, organic chemicals, petroleum related compound, industrial wastes, ozone depleting substances and other similar toxic and hazardous substances,” the law said.

RA 8749 further bans and penalizes any “establishment, firm, company, government or private entity or organizations… to burn or cause open burning of waste materials in their premises, area of jurisdiction, including recognized or unrecognized dumpsites in any quality or quantity.”

According to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 8749, “any person who burns municipal waste in violation of Sections 1 and 3 of Rule XXV shall be punished with two years and one day to four years imprisonment.”

While those found guilty of burning “hazardous substances and wastes in violation of  Section 1 of Rule XXV shall be punished with four years and one day to six years imprisonment.”

To prevent any further untoward incident that may delay the re-export of the South Korean wastes, the EcoWaste Coalition urged law enforcement agencies to ensure that the waste materials are secured 24/7 until these are shipped back to their origin in September 2019.




12 August 2019

Some “UK” Toys Pose Choking and Chemical Hazards – EcoWaste Coalition (EcoWaste Coalition Reminds Consumers to Take Safety Precautions When Buying Second Hand Toys in Ukay-Ukay Shops)

Photo of 105 samples

Lead paint-coated second hand toy xylophone

Photo of samples with high lead and bromine content

Imported toys and other children’s products sold in thrift stores commonly known as ukay-ukay (or “UK” for short) may be cheap but not necessarily safe for kids, especially if played without adult supervision.

The environmental and health advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition urged bargain hunters to take safety precautions when buying second hand children’s products such as toys, which are sold in UK stores sans the required labeling information.

The group released its latest toy safety reminder following the examination of 105 assorted children’s products that it bought from August 6-10 for P10 to P180 each from UK stores in Manila and Quezon Cities. 

“None of the items we bought from UK stores are labeled, which goes against the mandatory labeling requirements for all toys sold in the country as per Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“Further examination of the samples revealed that as many as 78 items contain small parts that may be separated from the toy.  A child may put the detached toy component in the mouth and choke, so a cautionary warning is definitely necessary,” he said.  

Aside from choking hazard, the group found some ukay-ukay products laden with chemicals that are dangerous to human health, especially to a child’s developing brain and central nervous system.    

With the help of a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, the group detected lead, a cumulative toxicant that can affect mental and physical development, in 13 items, including toy cars, toy figurines, toy xylophone, a mug with a football design and a drinking glass with an image of Peko-chan.

“For example, the yellow, orange, green and bars of a used toy xylophone had lead content measuring 27, 200; 11,900; 9,673; and 506 parts per million (ppm), respectively, exceeding the maximum 90 ppm limit for lead in paint,” Dizon said.

The group also found 13 toys, mostly toy cars, with high bromine content ranging from 723 to 4,190 ppm.  Eight of these 13 items had bromine exceeding 1,000 ppm.  

“The bromine found on the black plastic component of these toys, which may come from recycled plastic electronic casings, may indicate the presence of brominated flame retardant chemicals or BFRs,” Dizon said.

BFRs such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are known to interfere with the endocrine or hormone system.  Other potential effects include hepatotoxicity (chemical-driven liver damage) and neurotoxicity (damage to the central and/or peripheral nervous system).

PBDEs are among the new persistent organic pollutants or POPs targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention, which includes the Philippines as one of the state parties.

“We hope that our findings will prompt the authorities to initiate further investigation on the sale of used toys and other children's products in ukay-ukay stores to  protect young consumers against potential hazards to their health and safety,” Dizon said.

"Yes, recycling is fun, but we do not want recycled toys from abroad to contaminate our children's bodies and harm their well-being and future," he concluded.




11 August 2019

Groups Push for Effective Enforcement of RA 9003 and Corporate Accountability to Tackle MM’s Burgeoning Garbage Woes

Reducing the massive 9.2 million kilos of waste produced on a daily basis by Metro Manila’s 17 local government units (LGUs) is a daunting task but not totally impossible.

Environmental health groups espousing the Zero Waste approach to resource management emphasized this point as national government agencies pressed the public to dispose of their discards properly to minimize drainage and flooding problems and to stop garbage from getting dumped into the Manila Bay.

To reduce the average daily waste generation in Metro Manila estimated at 9,283,889 as per government’s calculation,  the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition underlined the need for effective enforcement of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The groups likewise called attention to the need for industries and businesses involved in the manufacture and sale of consumer goods to take responsibility in reducing their production and usage of single-use plastics choking storm drains, rivers and the oceans.

MEF Chairman Sonia Mendoza, who is also a member of the Metro Manila Solid Waste Management Board,  pointed out that strengthening the implementation of RA 9003 at every household, barangay and local government is essential if the society is to reduce the volume of trash that ends up being buried or burned in disposal sites, or gets dumped into Manila Bay.

“There is no question that we need to give the enforcement of RA 9003 a much-needed boost at all levels in order to maximize and benefit from proven Zero Waste strategies such as waste segregation at source, recycling, composting and their associated social enterprises and community livelihoods,” she said.

“A renewed commitment to enforce the RA 9003, especially by our mayors and barangay captains, will significantly reduce Metro Manila's waste production and the amount of  residuals requiring disposal,” she added.

Stressing the need for corporate action to combat plastic pollution, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, urged companies to adopt bold policies and measures to halt single-use, throw-away plastic packaging.

“We can no longer solely put the blame on consumers and poor communities for our garbage woes.   Corporations need to roll out plastic reduction policies, re-design products with the environment in mind, and to disassociate themselves from throw-away plastics and harmful chemicals polluting the oceans,” she said.

According to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), biodegradable waste comprises 52 percent of the waste generated by the metropolis, recyclable waste covers 38 percent, and residual waste makes up the remaining 10 percent.

"Why is 85% of the total waste being collected by Metro Manila LGUs dumped in landfills? As per RA 9003, it should only be residual waste, which is only about 10 - 20%?  If we use the MMDA waste characterization data, it should only be 10%," Mendoza highlighted.  

Based on the above figures, biodegradables  should be composted or used as animal feeds, recyclables should be sold to junk shops and recycling firms, and only residuals should be collected by municipal or city trucks for disposal, the groups said.

The honest-to-goodness enforcement of RA 9003 and related laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Awareness and Education Act, complemented by strong plastic reduction policies and targets by socially responsible companies, will also help in stopping the creeping entry into the country of costly and unsustainable disposal technologies such as burn or thermal waste-to-energy incineration, the groups said.


08 August 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Re-Export of Stranded South Korean Wastes in Mindanao This September

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health and justice group, welcomed the probable removal next month from Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental of the remaining 5,177 tons of mixed plastic waste exports from South Korea.  

The group cited the response that it received from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea indicating expected reshipment of the illegal waste exports from the affluent East Asian country in September this year. 

It will be recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition wrote last August 2 to the Office of the President, the Ministry of Environment and the Embassy of South Korea to expedite the re-export of the illegal wastes that have been languishing in Tagoloan for over a year now. 

In response, the South Korean government through its Embassy in Taguig City informed the EcoWaste Coalition through a letter dated August 6 that “relevant Korean authorities have been discussing the detailed procedure for the repatriation of garbage with the Philippine Bureau of Customs.”

“We will have to wait for the results of the discussion, but it seems that the waste is expected to be returned to Korea in September 2019,” the letter said. 

“We welcome this important piece of information from the South Korean Embassy, which is a good indication that the overstaying wastes will be gone soon and will not suffer the same fate as the infamous garbage from Canada that sailed back to its source after six years following a diplomatic crisis,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope the vessel that will bring the illegal waste exports back to South Korea will be identified and dispatched sooner as the wastes are ready to be picked up anytime,” she added.

Mindanao Container Terminal Port Collector John Simon had earlier confirmed with the EcoWaste Coalition through a text message that the repackaged wastes are now “ready for pickup.” 

“This early, we thank the governments of the Philippines and South Korea for ensuring an expedited resolution of this dumping controversy in line with the Basel Convention and for the ongoing efforts to hold those persons responsible for this illegal act accountable,” Lucero said.

The 5,177 tons of bulk wastes from South Korea, which the Philippine authorities had determined as “misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health,” have been sitting since July 2018 at the compound of consignee Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. inside the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.  

Early this year, on January 13, nearly 1,400 tons of containerized illegal mixed plastic wastes imported by the same company were sent back by customs authorities to the port of Pyeongtaek in South Korea.

To prevent the recurrence of illegal waste exports from Canada, South Korea and other countries, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its urgent appeal for President Rodrigo Duterte’s ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the export of hazardous waste and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling.

The group also affirmed its support for a complete and permanent ban on the importation of foreign wastes, citing the need to protect public health and the environment from global waste trade.

The group further urged priority consideration to House and Senate bills seeking to protect the country from becoming a global waste dump such as the bills filed by Misamis Oriental 2nd District Representative Juliette Uy and Senators Franklin Drilon, Imee Marcos and Francis Pangilinan.


06 August 2019

Puerto Princesa barangays blame plastics for garbage woes

“Plastics are to blame!”

All fingers point to plastics as one of the root causes of Puerto Princesa’s growing garbage problem, during last week’s barangay solid waste management planning for five (5) barangays in the sole city of the province of Palawan.

Barangays Bancao-bancao; Bacungan; San Jose; Salvacion; and Irawan spent one day each from 29 July to 2 August last week to come up with separate action plans to deal with their separate garbage issues.

“Plastics, specifically single-use (SUPs) and disposable ones, such as sando bags and styros, are major culprits; they are everywhere and it appears there is no way to deal with them ecologically,” sighed Hon.  Gina Valdestamon, Barangay Bacungan Chairwoman.

Barangays Bacungan and San Jose ranked SUPs 3rd among their top 5 root causes of the barangays’ waste issues, while Barangays Salvacion and Irawan placed the same 4th. In Barangay Bancao-bancao, the participants pointed out SUPs among a host of other main waste culprits although the same did not make it into the barangay’s top 5 list.

Organizer of the activities, Bonifacio Tobias, Project Manager for Candis 3 Marketing Cooperative’s (C3MC) project on Mitigating Threats to Marine Protected Areas through Reducing and Recycling Solid Waste Materials, pointed out that “plastics, and the toxins that they have, are a marine menace, polluting the sea and killing marine animals in various ways, such as by strangling or by being mistaken as food by sea creatures.”

“Plastics get into the ocean either through direct dumping or from run-off mostly from household as well as from tourism activities,” Tobias added.

During the planning sessions, which were facilitated by EcoWaste Coalition’s Zero Waste Program Officer, Jovito “Jove” Benosa, and Zero Waste Campaigner Rey Palacio, the barangay participants saw the need to “turn the faucet off”, so to speak, by banning the use of stubborn SUPs and disposables in their barangays to truly deal with the issue of waste.

Puerto Princesa, very recently, has issued an ordinance banning certain SUPs and disposables all throughout the city.

The City’s Ordinance No. 993, titled “The Puerto Princesa City Single Use Plastic and Styrofoam Regulation Ordinance of 2019”, approved on March 06 of this year, prohibits the use of plastics as defined in Section 4 of the ordinance; the use of single-use plastic bags as secondary packaging; and the use of Styrofoam containers as primary packaging material, among others.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003 provides in Sections 29, 30 and 48 for the prohibition on the manufacture and use of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging.

“Environmentally-acceptable”, according to R.A. 9003, “shall refer to the quality of being re-usable, biodegradable or compostable, recyclable and not toxic or hazardous to the environment” (Section 3, paragraph (m)).

“We make waste everyday, but our land is not expanding; there will come a time when Puerto Princesa will be completely covered with waste if we don’t stop creating them!” exclaimed Palacio during the planning sessions.

 “With the law’s waste diversion mandate as provided in Section 20 of R.A. 9003, there is no other way for residual plastics to go but to be phased out. These stubborn materials resist ecological management and therefore can in no way be truly diverted from ending up in disposal facilities, unless their manufacture is put to a full stop,” concluded Benosa.


Toy Labels Fall Far Short of RA 10620's Requirements (EcoWaste Coalition Finds Toys Inadequately Labeled, Pushes for Effective Enforcement of RA 10620 and Its IRR)

Seventy-five days after the long-delayed Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013, finally took effect, some toys being sold in the market are still improperly labeled depriving consumers with an essential tool to ascertain which toys are suitable and safe for children to play with.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watchdog group, made this observation after examining 27 toys for compliance to Rule 1 of RA 10620’s IRR regarding the general labeling requirements for toys and games manufactured locally or internationally that are imported, exported, donated, distributed and sold in the Philippines.

“We regret that some toys in the market do not conform with RA 10620-prescribed mandatory labeling requirements, denying consumers of their basic right to information which is indispensable in the selection of age-appropriate, safe and non-toxic play things that all children deserve,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.     

The provision of information and education to facilitate sound choice and the proper exercise of rights by the consumer is also guaranteed by another law, Republic Act 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, Dizon pointed out.

“Our latest sampling indicates the need to effectively enforce RA 10620 and its IRR.  Its effective enforcement will serve the interest of consumers, especially young children whose safety is the central reason why this law was enacted.  The continued sale of contaminated toys also reaffirms the need for a supplemental law that will eliminate hazardous chemicals in children’s products such as toys,” he said.  

The EcoWaste Coalition is optimistic that the effort of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to orient stakeholders about the IRR starting with a seminar tomorrow, August 7, at the Department of Health headquarters will help in promoting strict compliance to RA 10620 and its requirements.

The assorted toys, including balloons, dolls, physical activity toys, stuffed toys and traditional toys like turumpo, were obtained by the group for P5 to P350 each on August 3-5 from diverse retailers doing business in Makati, Manila, Pasay and Quezon Cities.

As stipulated in Rule 1 of the IRR, the following information are required in toy and game labels: license to operate (LTO) number issued by the FDA;  age grading; cautionary statements/warnings; instructional literature; manufacturer’s marking; and item, model, stock keeping unit (SKU) number.

Out of 27 toy samples, not even one was compliant to the general requirements for toy labels as stated in Rule 1.

-- 5 had zero labeling information;

-- 21 samples lacked LTO number issued by the FDA;

-- 17 samples provided no age labeling information;

-- 12 samples displayed no cautionary statements such as “Warning: Not suitable for children under 3 years.  Contains small parts” or its equivalent graphical symbol;

-- 27 samples had no usage instructions;

-- 24 samples provided zero or incomplete name and address of the toy manufacturer or distributor; and 

-- 15 samples had no item, model, SKU number.

Rule 1 further requires that the label must be generally written in English, visible, easily legible, understandable and indelible form, and the product itself must be accompanied by an instructional literature for perusal or examination by the buyer.

“The labeling information in some sample toys are microscopic to be read and understood and thus requiring the use of a magnifying glass,” Dizon observed.

“Additionally, we also found some samples contaminated with chemical substances like lead and phthalates that are banned in children’s toys,” he said.

Dizon cited a xylophone whose orange metallic bar is coated with lead paint exceeding the 90 parts per million (ppm) maximum limit, as well as a plastic doll laden with banned DBP and DEHP phthalates above the 0.1% limit.   The group also found a set of art nails for kids that comes with an adhesive containing DBP phthalate.

Signed into law by former President Benigno Aquino III on September 3, 2013, RA 10620’s IRR took an extremely long time to draft and finalize.  To compel the Departments of Health and Trade and Industry to issue the IRR, the EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer Inc., joined by 20 mothers as co-petitioners, lodged a petition for a Writ of Mandamus at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on October 23, 2018.

After 2,074 days, the IRR of RA 10620 was finally signed on January 20, 2019 by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez.   It took another 109 days to get the IRR published on May 9, 2019 in newspapers of national circulation.

Violators of RA 10620 and its IRR shall be subject to a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P50,000, or imprisonment of not less than three months but not more than two years, or both, at the discretion of the court.




04 August 2019

Zero Waste Groups Back Paperless Congress

Several environmental groups have thrown their support behind a proposed shift to paperless transactions at the House of Representatives.

Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Cavite 7th District Representative Crispin “Boying” Remulla had earlier announced that the chamber’s leadership is pushing for a paperless Congress to reduce paper costs estimated at P9 million a year and to digitize the legislative process.

This is among the reforms being considered by the house leadership under the new rules of the 18th Congress to be adopted this coming December after the approval of the 2020 national budget.

The move toward a paperless Congress has elicited support from green groups working for a Zero Waste, toxics-free and sustainable society who cited the many benefits of going digital and paperless.

“We welcome the chamber’s planned switch to paperless transactions as this will surely cut the costs for procuring paper and for the printing of voluminous legislative documents such as bills that do not necessarily become a law.  This will reduce long-term resource use and associated costs and bring greater transparency to the lawmaking process,” said Jovito Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“A paperless Congress should improve legislative efficiency, while cutting the expenses not only for bond papers, but also for folders, inks, toners and other supplies.  The savings can be used instead for meaningful programs to meet our people’s basic needs,” suggested Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

“Aside from reduced paper use and waste, going paperless will cut storage space for legislative documents that are often printed in multiple copies, as well as cut staff time in maintaining such documents.  With more efficient operations, we can hope for faster deliberation of important bills, particularly strategic environmental and health measures such as those banning single-use plastics, foreign waste importation, and hazardous chemicals, products and processes,” stated Rene Pineda, President, Consumer Rights for Safe Food.

“Congress going paperless as main method of communication should be definitely supported.  Hopefully, this reform will enhance legislative transparency.  But there should be some room for flexibility to print if needed as not everyone, especially the basic sectors, may have access to digital information.  We hope other government offices will go paperless as well,” said Beau Baconguis, Plastics Campaigner,  Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives-Asia Pacific and  Asia Pacific Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic.

"OK, let's go paperless.  But when needed, only use paper for emergency and urgent communication," added Esther Pacheco, President, Concerned Citizens Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability (COCAP).


02 August 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Writes to Pres. Moon Jae-in to Demand Re-Export of 5,177 Tons of Illegal Waste Exports from South Korea (Environmental Health and Justice Group Urges South Korea to Remove Their Remaining Wastes in Mindanao)

The environmental health and justice group EcoWaste Coalition today pushed the government of South Korea to act on the 5,177 tons of illegal waste exports that continue to languish in Mindanao for over a year now despite repeated assurances from Seoul to take them back “as soon as possible.”

Through a letter sent today to President Moon Jae-in, which was copied to Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae and Ambassador Han Dong-man, the group urged the South Korean authorities “to immediately act on this pressing issue and not allow the controversy to drag on like what happened to the infamous garbage from Canada that finally left the Philippines last 30 May after six long years.”

The group’s latest move against foreign waste dumping came on the heels of the efforts by several Asian countries, particularly the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, to send back container-loads of contaminated plastic wastes and other refuse  to their affluent sources like Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and United States.

“We urge the South Korean government to undertake immediate re-exportation of their 5,177 tons of illegal bulk waste exports that are still in the Philippines despite the agreement reached at a bilateral meeting between the two governments to have these wastes repatriated to their origin,” wrote Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Over 45 days have lapsed since the said meeting and we see no progress in the re-exportation arrangements for the misdeclared plastic synthetic flakes that arrived in the Mindanao on 21 July 2018.  One year has already gone by and the illegal waste shipments are still waiting to be shipped back to South Korea,” she lamented.

“We look forward to celebrating the departure of the illegal waste cargoes from South Korea to their origin,” she added.

Last June 13, 2019, at a bilateral meeting held at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) Complex in the municipality of Tagoloan, province of Misamis Oriental, the Korean panel led by Mr. Young-Dae Jeong, Director General, Environmental Management Bureau, Ministry of Environment, agreed that “the Government of Korea in accordance with its existing laws, rules and regulations shall start the shipping procedure from the Port of Tagoloan to Korea as soon as possible.” 

Misamis Oriental Second District 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 led the Philippine government panel in the said meeting, which also drew observers from other interested groups, including the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Consistent with our role as an environmental health and justice watchdog group, the EcoWaste Coalition will monitor the re-importation of the said illegal waste exports by South Korea in line with the provisions of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and Their Disposal,” Lucero said.   

“In defense of our people’s right to a balanced and healthful ecology as guaranteed by our Constitution, we will oppose all forms of foreign waste dumping into our shores and will resist plans to have the 5,177 tons of South Korean waste landfilled or incinerated in the Philippines,” she emphasized. 

In their latest letter to the South Korean government, the EcoWaste Coalition cited the November 2018 press release by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in November 2018 stating that “the Ministry of Environment (had) initiated legal procedure to have the wastes in question in the Philippines be brought back in accordance with Article 20 of the Law on Cross-border movement and Disposal of Wastes—Prior Notice of Repatriation Order—and embarked on investigation of the violation of Article 18-2 of the said law—False Export Declaration.” 

The said press release also mentioned that “relevant authorities of Korea will have the wastes in question be repatriated and properly disposed and work to prevent recurrence of the problem.”

While appreciating the re-export of nearly 1,400 tons of containerized contaminated plastic wastes to Pyeongtaek City last January 13, 2019, majority of the illegally exported wastes from South Korea amounting to 5,177 tons are still in the country.

To recall, the 5,177 tons of bulk wastes, which the authorities determined as “misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health,” have been sitting since July 2018 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.  

As stated in 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.”  According to this regulation, “no importation of heterogenous and unsorted plastic materials shall be allowed.”



http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_20312/list.do (please see press release entitled “The imported waste to the Philippines to be brought back to Korea”)