29 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Urges SEA Games Spectators to Keep Venues Waste-Free (Let's go for gold in terms of reduced garbage and pollution throughout the games, says green group)

As the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) is officially inaugurated tomorrow at the Philippine Arena, a waste and pollution watchdog group reminded spectators to keep the venues of the multi-sport regional event waste-free.

The EcoWaste Coalition appealed for public cooperation to ensure that the sports venues and their vicinities will not be sullied by litter and filth that is often a common problem in big gatherings.  

“As host country for the biennial sporting event, let us show our esteemed guests and our own people that we care for our environment,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Not leaving any trash at the sports venues is a simple act that we can do to make the SEAG an eco-friendly experience for competitors and spectators alike,” he said.        

“We urge everyone to be mindful of the ecological waste management system that should be in place in all the sports venues in Clark, Subic, Metro Manila and other places.  Please put your discards in the segregated waste bins,” he said.  

To reduce the generation of garbage in the sports venues, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to heed the following 10-point waste prevention tips.

Tip 1:  Don't bring in food and beverage to the venue if not permitted.

Tip 2:  If allowed, bring food and drinks in reusable containers to cut on single-use plastic and paper trash.

Tip 3:  Put candy wrappers in your pockets and keep them with you until you see a bin. 

Tip 4:  Dispose of spent chewing gum properly; do not throw it on the floor or stick it in under the seat.

Tip 5:  Refrain from tossing dirty tissues and wipes onto the ground.

Tip 6:  Don't leave any trash on or under the bleachers; put discards in the bins provided.

Tip 7:  Observe the “no smoking, no vaping, no spitting” rule.

Tip 8:  Avoid using plastic cheering paraphernalia.

Tip 9:  Don't throw confetti on the athletes.

Tip 10:   Never release balloons or sky lanterns to celebrate, which will only end up as litter on land or in the ocean.

“If a venue lacks a good system for managing waste, we request the public to consider bringing their discards home for proper recycling or disposal,” Benosa suggested.

"Let's cheer for all the SEAG athletes and go for gold in terms of spotless venues and reduced garbage and pollution throughout the games," the EcoWaste Coalition said.


25 November 2019

Local Government Units Take Action to Protect Their Constituents from Mercury in Skin Whitening Cosmetics

The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog group, gave local government units (LGUs) a pat on the back for taking action to stop the illegal sale of skin whitening cosmetics laden with mercury, a toxic substance that is not permitted as an ingredient in cosmetics under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

The group cited the concerted action by some LGUs to address this public health and environmental issue as the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP3) is set to take place from November 25 to 29, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The group particularly cited the Quezon City Government for promulgating Ordinance No. 2767 in 2018, which prohibits business and commercial establishments, as well as street, “tiangge” and online vendors, from manufacturing, distributing and selling cosmetics with mercury content above one part per million (ppm) limit.

The group also lauded the Baguio City Government and the Manila City Government through their respective City Councils for considering measures similar to what the Quezon City Government adopted to combat the unlawful trade in mercury-added skin whitening products in their areas of jurisdiction.

The proposed ordinance banning and penalizing the trade in skin whitening cosmetics containing mercury above 1 ppm in Baguio City was filed by Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan, while counterpart ordinance was introduced by District II Councilor Numero Lim in Manila City.  Preliminary hearings were already conducted by the Baguio City Council Committee on Market, Trade, Commerce and Agriculture chaired by Councilor Philian Weygan Allan, and by the Manila City Council Committee on Health chaired by Councilor Louisito Chua.  

“We support the expedited approval of the pending ordinances in Baguio and Manila to send a clear message to unscrupulous traders of mercury-tainted skin whitening cosmetics that their days are numbered and that they can no longer evade responsibility for their illicit act,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We urge other LGUs where the illegal sale of mercury-laced skin whitening products goes unchecked to follow the good example set by Quezon City to protect public health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury pollution,” he added.   

The EcoWaste Coalition further commended other LGUs, particularly the Angeles City Government, for cracking down on sellers who continue to defy the ban on mercury-contaminated skin whitening cosmetics that is being enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“National and local actions are essential to realize the global phase-out target by 2020 of cosmetics, including skin whitening products, with mercury above 1 ppm as per the Minamata Convention on Mercury,” Dizon said.

“As 2020 is just around the corner, we expect COP3 and all governments to actively pursue measures toward the effective phase-out of targeted mercury-added products (MAPs) under the mercury treaty,” he said, noting that the Philippines has already drawn up its national action plan for the phase-out of MAPs and the management of their associated wastes despite the country's delay in ratifying the treaty.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),” the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”

Repeated applications of such products “may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration, and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections,” the WHO warned.




24 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Slams Latest Attempts to Import Toxic Waste from South Korea

The environmental health watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition deplored the entry into the country of some 53,000 metric tons of radioactive phosphogypsum from  South Korea as intercepted by government agents.

The group also scored the importation of electronic waste, or e-waste, from South Korea in one 40-foot container that was falsely declared as used television and electrical spare parts

At the same time, the group commended the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for their swift action, which led to the seizure of the phosphogypsum shipments on November 22 at a wharf in Cabangan, Zambales and the subsequent arrest of the ship master, his crew and the crane operators.  .

The group further lauded the Environmental Protection and Compliance Division of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for stopping the e-waste consignment, which arrived on November 6 at the Manila International Container Port.

“We deplore this most recent act to transfer into the country tons upon tons of phosphogypsum, a waste by-product of fertilizer production from phosphate rock, which is known to contain radioactive elements,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We also find the e-waste shipment equally detestable,” he added.

“We have yet to complete the re-exportation to South Korea of contaminated plastic waste stranded in Misamis Oriental and it seems that a new controversy involving these recent toxic shipments is looming,” he lamented.

“The decisive action taken by the PCG, NBI and BOC operatives amid intensified efforts to prevent hazardous waste exports to the Philippines must be supported.  We hope they will hold their ground and get the toxic shipments out of the country as soon as possible,” he said.

These incidents should prompt the government into imposing a definite ban on the importation of hazardous waste and other wastes, and into ratifying without delay the Basel Ban Amendment  prohibiting the export of hazardous wastes, including e-waste, from developed to developing countries for all reasons, including recycling.  The said amendment to the Basel Convention will enter into force on December 5, 2019.

Dizon had earlier written to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) last November 12 to alert the agencies about the phosphogypsum shipments which the group learned about through an e-mail it got from an informant.

“As the country’s principal regulatory and law enforcement bodies in charge of controlling and preventing hazardous waste trade, we request both the EMB and the BOC to jointly investigate this matter,” he said.

As per news report published at the PCG website, combined PCG-NBI operatives intercepted the Liberian-flagged merchant ship from the Port of Gwangyang at the Cabangan Wharf in the municipality of Cabangan, province of Zambales.

The ship crew members and crane operators were already unloading the cargoes at the wharf when the law enforcers arrived.

Unable to present the proper permits, the PCG-NBI operatives ordered the ship master to stop unloading the cargo  citing violations of Republic Act 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, and Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The ship master, crew, and crane operators were subsequently arrested and brought to NBI Headquarters in Manila for proper custody and further investigation.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): “Phosphogypsum, a waste product from manufacturing fertilizer, emits radon, a radioactive gas.”

“It also contains the radioactive elements uranium, thorium and radium,” the EPA said, noting that “because the wastes are concentrated, phosphogypsum is more radioactive than the original phosphate rock.”





Groups Push for Children’s Safety from Hazardous Toys as Christmas nears

Consumer and environmental protection groups today reminded the public to be watchful for hazardous toys in the market that can bring harm rather than joy to children.

At a press briefing held today, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Laban Konsyumer, Inc. rallied consumers to exercise their rights to product information and product safety amid the toy shopping spree as the traditional Christmas gift-giving nears.

“We appeal to all gift givers to be extra careful when buying toys as the market is flooded with dangerous toys that are often unlabeled and unregistered,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While toys are generally fun and safe to play with, there are toys out there that can pose various hazards from chemical poisoning, choking, skin laceration, strangulation and even injury to sensitive body parts like the eyes and ears,” he said.

“As children are vulnerable to the negative effects of poorly made and toxic toys, toy makers, distributors and retailers must be responsible enough not to offer toys that have not passed quality and safety verification, including compliance to product labeling requirements,” he emphasized.

For his part, Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President of the Laban Konsyumer, Inc. pointed to the need for heightened monitoring of toys to rid the market of products that can put the health and safety of children at risk.

“As shoppers flock to their favorite stores, the government needs to assure consumers that toys being sold in the market are not only affordable, but also properly labeled and of good quality,” he said.

“Sustained monitoring of the marketplace is needed to stop the sale of toys and other popular Christmas products that may inflict harm to children’s health,” he added.

Clinical toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center further stressed the consumer vigilance against toys that are laden with hazardous substances such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, heavy metals, and persistent organic pollutants.

“Consumers should avoid toys containing hazardous chemicals.  Lead in painted toys, in particular, may be ingested by children through normal hand-to-mouth behavior.  Chronic exposure to lead can interfere with a child’s growth and development resulting in lower intelligence quotient (IQ), poor school performance, reduced attention span, and anti-social behavioral,” she explained.

According to the latest toy sampling conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition involving 156 products bought from toy retailers in Baguio, Manila, Cebu and Davao Cities:

a.  20 out of 156 toys had lead levels above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million; traces of other heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium were also detected in some toys;

b.  85 of the 156 toys contain small parts that can pose a choking hazard; some toys were also found to pose eye injury, laceration, and strangulation hazards;

c.  None of the 156 provided complete product labeling information as required by Republic 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

To reduce children’s exposure to harm arising from the purchase and use of dangerous toys, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following “Santa’s shopping tips” for safe toys:

1. Choose age-suitable toys.  Check the recommended age on the product label and select the one that is appropriate to your child’s age, abilities, habits, and maturity level.  Refrain from buying toys that are not labeled for age appropriateness.

2. Pick toys that are durable and well-made.  A sturdily made toy will last longer and will be safe for parts that could break or fall apart with frequent use. Detached or shattered parts could injure or pose a choking hazard to a curious child.

3.  Shun toys with small parts to reduce the risk of choking.  Marbles, tiny balls and toys with button batteries and small components pose a choking risk.  As a general rule, toys and toy parts should be bigger than a child’s mouth.

4.  Avoid toys with a cord longer than 12 inches to prevent strangulation incidents.  Toys with a cord or string longer than 12 inches can be deadly as it can wrap around the neck and asphyxiate a child.

5.  Go for injury-free toys.  Refrain from procuring toys that can injure a child’s ears, eyes, skin and body such as toys with pointed parts, sharp edges and those that can eject small objects such as toy pellet guns.

6.  Reject lead painted toys.  Refuse coated toys if there is no assurance that the paint used is safe from lead, a neurotoxin.  Toys should be painted only with lead safe paints to prevent a child from being exposed to this toxic chemical that can cause intellectual impairment and mental retardation, among other adverse effects.

7.  Avoid toys made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. PVC plastic toys contain chemicals additives such as toxic phthalates that can leach out when a toy is chewed or sucked.

8.  Patronize duly labeled and registered toy and childcare articles (TCCAs).  Notified TCCAs have undergone quality and safety assessment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


23 November 2019

E-Waste ‘To! Iwasto! I-Takbo!

Hundreds of Caloocan City residents today put on their running shoes to support a government-led drive toward the environmentally-sound management of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment, or what is commonly known as e-waste.

Co-organized by the Barangay Council of Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, the “E-Waste ‘To! Iwasto! I-Takbo!” fun run is part of the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” being implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). 

“The leadership of Barangay Bagong Silang is conscious of the need to improve the system for managing e-waste in our community and the rest of the country to prevent hazardous waste pollution that can put public health at risk,” said barangay chairperson Joel Bacolod.

“Through this fun-run, we hope to inform more people about the dangers of e-waste and the importance of safely handling, storing, and recycling e-waste so as not to pollute the environment and expose the people, including the informal waste sector, to health-damaging chemicals,” he said. 

As a manifestation of the community support for the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project,” students of Bagong Silang High School and Benigno Aquino Jr. High School, as well as participants from the Aerobics Zumba Club, junkshop cooperatives, government, and civil society groups, joined the three-kilometer fun run.

“Our partnership with the DENR-EMB, UNIDO, IRI and the EcoWaste Coalition will undoubtedly bear good fruit in terms of instilling environmental concern and responsibility among our constituents on safe e-waste management,” Bacolod said.   

“We would like to thank the Barangay Bagong Silang, Caloocan City and the EcoWaste Coalition and for organizing the “Fun Run”. This is a result of the Cooperative Agreement signed for the project entitled “Implementation of PCB Management Program for Electric Cooperatives and Safe e-wastes Management “ by IRI, Barangay Bagong Silang, UNIDO and the DENR-EMB and ensures our support to the Stockholm Convention on POPs. Bagong Silang, is just one of our project sites, other sites are Camarin, Capulong, Tondo and Longos in Malabon and we intend to replicate some awareness-raising activities in the said barangays.”  Dr. Carmela Centeno, UNIDO Headquarters, Vienna Austria.  

“The UNIDO Country Office in the Philippines is glad to be part of this Fun Run, we understand that there were several activities in Barangay Bagong Silang held this week, which includes training/workshop and poster making contest in at least 2 High Schools in Bagong silang, and this together with the e-waste collection with IRI is the culminating activity for the week. These activities are part of the preparations for the establishment of the e-waste facility in Bagong Silang ”, says Ms. Tonilyn Lim, UNIDO Country Representative who delivered the opening remarks. 

The fun run and the launch of the e-waste campaign mascot emphasizes the importance of the campaign on E-waste management. 

The event concluded with the turn-over of collected discarded cathode ray tubes (CRTs) to IRI for proper management.


22 November 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Proposed Baguio City Ordinance Banning Wet Wipes with Harmful Ingredients

The proposed ordinance filed by Baguio City Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan banning wet wipes laced with harmful ingredients has elicited support among environmental health advocates.

At the public consultation convened by the Committee on Market, Trade, Commerce and Agriculture chaired by Councilor Philian Weygan Allan, Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition (a non-government organization) affirmed that the said measure will protect consumers, particularly babies, who are prone to allergic reactions and other side effects caused by certain chemical preservatives banned in wet wipes.

“The use of wet wipes containing banned substances may result to allergic contact dermatitis, an itchy rash, on the very sensitive skin of babies,” warned Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition who came to Baguio City for the said consultation.

“Adopting and enforcing the ordinance will hopefully stop the sale in Baguio City of these non-compliant wet wipes that could put the health of babies at risk,” he said.

In his presentation before the consultation participants, Dizon explained that wet wipes for cleansing or moisturizing the skin such as baby wipes are regulated as cosmetics by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Under Republic Act 9711, or the FDA Act of 2009, manufacturers, importers, distributors and sellers of cosmetic products, including wet wipes, are required to file the necessary cosmetic product notification so that the agency can perform quality and safety verification before the product is sold in the market, Dizon said.

Using cosmetics without the required notification “may pose potential health hazards,” according to the FDA, adding “potential hazards may come from ingredients that are not allowed to be part of a cosmetic product.”

Among the ingredients not allowed in wet wipes as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive are chemical preservatives such as Benzylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Pentylparaben, Phenylparaben, and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT).

“After a reasonable grace period, the ban on the use of five parabens in cosmetics took effect on January 1, 2016. while the ban on MIT for leave-on cosmetics commenced on 1 September 2018,” said Dizon.

Manufacturers, importers and distributors of wet wipes containing banned ingredients are required by law to recall their products by the end of the grace period.

“Sadly, wet wipes containing these banned ingredients are still sold in the market,” Dizon lamented.

Dizon concluded his presentation by offering the following practical tips to prevent children’s exposure to known skin sensitizers.

a. Use lukewarm water, mild soap and cotton balls for cleaning baby’s bottom and only use wet wipes when water is not available.

b. Read the product label carefully and shun those that include banned ingredients.

c. Reject products that do not list their ingredients and do not have an expiry date.

d. Look for alcohol-free and unscented wet wipes.

e. To cut the chances of an allergy, refrain from using wet wipes for cleaning baby’s hands, mouth and other body parts.

f. After using wet wipes, rinse with water to get rid of chemical residues and reduce the risk of skin allergies.

He likewise advised consumers not to flush used wet wipes or throw them on streets or canals as these may block the drainage and sewer systems, clog anti-flood pumping stations, ruin wastewater pumps, and aggravate the plastic pollution of water bodies and the oceans


FDA Advisory re 5 banned parabens

FDA Advisory re Methylisothiazolinone

18 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








16 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




11 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage,” adding that “mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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































08 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



06 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



03 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


02 November 2019

Undas 2019: The mess the day after

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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