29 April 2020

Groups Urge LGUs to Follow Navotas City’s Example in Providing Hazard Pay to Garbage Collectors

Non-profit organizations espousing waste workers’ right to occupational safety and health cited the Navotas City Government for its humanitarian action toward garbage collectors amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

“Kudos to the city government of Navotas for extending hazard pay compensation to garbage collectors who report to work during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to contain the spread of the vicious coronavirus,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Navotas sets a good example for other local government units (LGUs) to follow as waste workers carry on with their service to prevent trash from piling up during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  In support of the city's zero waste program, waste workers do separate collection of discards that have been segregated at source,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.  

Based on the signed copy of the ordinance obtained by the EcoWaste Coalition from the Office of Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco, City Ordinance No. 2020-10 grants hazard pay of P500 per day to regular, contractual or casual employees of the city, including contract of service or job order workers, who physically report for work during the ECQ period.

"Our frontliners had to leave the safety of their homes and risk exposure to COVID-19 to be able to fulfill their duties and serve Navoteños," Tiangco was quoted as saying, stressing further "it is but right that we honor and recognize their sacrifices."

Among those who will receive hazard pay are the doctors, nurses and other staff of the Navotas City Hospital and the Navotas City Health Office, and personnel of offices required to maintain a skeletal workforce, as well as garbage collectors, street sweepers and utility personnel.  

The funds necessary to cover the hazard will be obtained from the 2020 Supplemental Budget of the City Government.

Sponsored by all councilors, the ordinance recognizes that “government employees and workers engaged through contract of service or job order, whose services are urgently necessary and who physically report for work during the period of ECQ are inevitably exposed to health risks and hazards.”

Hazard pay, according to Congressional Joint Resolution No. 4, series of 2009, pertains to the “premium given to government personnel exposed to hazardous situations such as, but not limited to, disease-infested areas and areas declared under state of calamity or emergency which pose occupational risks or perils to life.”

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier appealed to national government agencies and LGUs to consider providing hazard pay to garbage collectors “to show that society values the contribution of environmental frontliners in our ongoing battle against COVID-19.”

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on people’s lives and health, both the EcoWaste Coalition and the MEF appealed to national and local authorities to step up compliance to Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The groups emphasized the need for waste prevention and reduction during the ECQ, including proper waste segregation at source to keep contaminated materials separated from recyclables and other discards that can endanger the health of formal and informal waste workers.



27 April 2020

EcoWaste Coalition Seeks DILG’s Intervention to Allow LGUs to Give Hazard Pay to Garbage Collectors Out of Local Development Fund

An environmental health organization has urged the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to allow the use of development fund by local government units (LGUs) to give hazard pay for garbage collectors deployed during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a press statement coinciding with the observance of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, the EcoWaste Coalition called upon DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año to authorize LGUs to use part of their 20 percent development fund for hazard pay to assigned waste workers during the COVID-19 lockdown.

DILG and the Department of Budget Management (DBM) had earlier issued Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2020, allowing LGUs to use 20 percent of their development fund for COVID-19 response.  The directive does not specify the payment of hazard pay to garbage collectors as an allowable expense.

“We urge the DILG, in coordination with DBM, to further unlock the restrictions on the use of local development fund to give LGUs the flexibility to provide appropriate hazard pay to garbage collectors servicing their areas during the ECQ,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We request the DILG and the DBM to issue a follow-up Memorandum Circular to this effect,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition had previously appealed to the government to give hazard pay to garbage collectors -- regardless of their employment status – due to the risks they face in the performance of essential waste management services under the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.

In reply to the EcoWaste Coalition’s letter of April 6, 2020, DBM Assistant Secretary Achilles Gerard Bravo on April 14 wrote that “institutional COS (contract of service), such as the garbage collectors from companies engaged by LGUs, are not considered as government personnel as they are continually regarded as employees of the contractor or service provider.”

“The private contractor or service providers may, at their own predilection, grant a benefit similar to the COVID-19 hazard pay to their workers deployed in government agencies and LGUs during the implementation of the quarantine measures,” he further said.

The provision of the requested hazard pay, explained the EcoWaste Coalition, is one way of expressing society’s recognition of the role being played by garbage collectors in waste management amid the heightened health and safety risks they face on a daily basis due to the COVID-19. 

“Without their indispensable service, we may be faced with even more environmental and health hazards from uncollected waste,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

Coordinated by the International Labor Organization (ILO), this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work focuses on addressing the outbreak of infectious diseases at work such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Governments, employers, workers and their organizations face enormous challenges as they try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and protect safety and health at work.  Beyond the immediate crisis, there are also concerns about resuming activity in a manner that sustains progress made in suppressing transmission,” the ILO said.




25 April 2020

EcoWaste Coalition Bothered by Online Sale of Dangerous Mercury-Added Skin Whitening Creams amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

While public authorities are hell-bent on flattening the curve of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines, private dealers of dangerous mercury-laced cosmetics seem to be taking advantage of the crisis as they ply their toxic goods online.

The watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition deplored the web-based trade of skin whitening cosmetics containing mercury, a toxic chemical that is banned in cosmetics, after detecting a proliferation of product advertisements in popular online shopping sites amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“Online distributors of personal care products, particularly facial creams banned by the government for containing mercury, appear to be having a field day while the doors of discount malls and stores are closed due to the ECQ,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We suspect these unscrupulous dealers are busy taking orders for delivery once the ECQ has been lifted by the authorities,” said Dizon.

The group pointed to the numerous third-party ads in Lazada, Shopee and Carousell for skin lightening cosmetics that are among those banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for lacking market authorization or for containing mercury.

Among the FDA-banned skin whitening cosmetics being sold in online shopping sites are Collagen Plus Vit E, Feique, Golden Pearl, Goree, Jiaoli and S’Zitang facial creams, the EcoWaste Coalition reported.

Republic Act 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, bans the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of any health products without the proper authorization from the FDA, while the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive prohibits mercury and its compounds in the composition of cosmetic products.

For the health and safety of their customers, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to online shopping platforms to take down ads for FDA-banned skin whitening cosmetics and for them to adopt stringent policies and procedures that will bar the sale of unauthorized cosmetics, particularly those containing harmful ingredients such as mercury.

“The decisive action by online shopping platforms to remove these unlawful cosmetics from their sites will help in advancing the country’s National Action Plan for the Phase-Out of Mercury-Added Products and the Management of the Associated Mercury-Containing Wastes in line with the Minamata Convention,” Dizon pointed out.

The said mercury treaty, which the Philippine government signed in 2013 but has yet to ratify, sets a global phase-out by 2020 of skin whitening cosmetics, including creams, lotions and soaps, with mercury above 1 part per million (ppm).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “adverse health effects of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening creams and soaps include: kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.”

Studies have also 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 warned.



I.  Relevant FDA and WHO Documents




II.  Examples of Lazada, Shopee and Carousell advertisements for mercury-laced skin whitening cosmetics that are among those banned by the FDA (search words: “beauty cream,” “skin whitening cream,” and product names):


















23 April 2020

EcoWaste Coalition Backs BOC’s Unyielding Action to Re-Export South Korean Garbage despite the COVID-19 Outbreak

The environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition lauded the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for its assurance to complete the re-export of the illegal plastic waste shipments from South Korea that entered the country in 2018.

Citing information from the website of the Department of Finance, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero reiterated BOC’s firm commitment to get the illicit wastes re-exported to their source, the group said.

“Rest assured that the Bureau will undertake all the necessary means, within the bounds of law, in order to expedite the re-exportation of these wastes,” Guerrero told Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

According to the BOC, the Philippines has so far succeeded in re-exporting 2,676 of the 5,177 metric tons of the illegal South Korean waste to their origin. 

To date, 151 container vans of waste materials, amounting to 2,676 metric tons, have been returned to South Korea in batches. The latest batch, consisting of 50 containers, was dispatched on March 21, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

“We commend and support the efforts of the BOC, particularly Customs District 10, to pursue the re-export of the unlawful waste shipments as agreed upon with the government of South Korea despite the many hurdles that have to be crossed, including the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  “We hope the overdue re-export of SoKor’s waste in the country will be completed soon.”

BOC-10 District Collector John Simon, the official behind the country’s relentless drive to re-export the South Korean wastes, had earlier explained that the container vans where the bagged wastes were supposed to be loaded arrived late due to the disruption of the international trade supply chain in China caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The remaining South Korean plastic trash in Misamis Oriental is a stark reminder of the country’s continuing problem with imported waste and the need for decisive measures to stem the tide of waste dumping into our ports,” Lucero said.  

According to the report “Waste Trade in the Philippines” co-published by Greenpeace and the EcoWaste Coalition and released last month, “the country’s exposure to continued waste imports is concerning.”

“No waste importation ban or moratorium is in place—despite recent strong pronouncements regarding such measures by the President as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” the groups lamented.

“Also, the government still has not undertaken steps to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an international policy instrument that will additionally protect the country from the importation of all waste, including those shipped under the guise of recycling,” the groups pointed out.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace, “preventing the entry of all waste imports into the country (including waste labeled for recycling) is the best strategy for countries such as the Philippines to protect its citizens and the environment from the harmful impacts of waste dumping.”





21 April 2020

Celebrating Earth Day Meaningfully in the Time of Coronavirus: Five Ways to Give Back to Mother Earth

As the 50th year of the Earth Day is observed on April 22, an environmental health organization has put forward five ways by which Filipinos from all walks of life can help to address both the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the climate crisis.  

“There are many practical ways that we can help Mother Earth heals from waste, pollution and destruction while we struggle to control and beat the dreaded new coronavirus,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Like the acts of kindness and solidarity that we’ve been seeing throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, the small and big changes that we make in the way we treat, care for and defend our environment have the potential of spreading on a large scale starting with our families and communities,” she said.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit organization working for a zero waste and toxics-free society, cited five ways to give back to Mother Earth amid the COVID-19 upsurge and the climate crisis.

“Embracing these earth-friendly ways will help reduce your carbon footprint while protecting public health and the environment against preventable sources of chemical and waste pollution and disease,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.    

1. Get started with a Zero Waste lifestyle as you stay at home to stem the spread of  COVID-19; know and cut back on what you throw away starting with single-use plastics that are designed and made to be disposed of after quick use.

2.  Use your spending power to prevent and reduce the volume and toxicity of what you buy and discard during the COVID-19 enhanced community quarantine such as by picking non-toxic products with less packaging.  

3.  Segregate discards at source, and make composting of food waste and other organics a habit; plunge into home composting and gardening during the lockdown.

4.  Properly dispose of used face masks, gloves, tissues, wipes and other potentially infectious waste with care to ensure the safety of waste workers and to prevent the spillage of such waste into the beaches and the oceans, which can harm aquatic life.

5.  Advocate for the enforcement of environmental and health laws and regulations from “no littering” to “no COVID-19 waste disposal in incinerators and crematories,” making sure your voice is heard, for example, through social media.

Home-based composting and gardening, the group pointed out, is a simple yet a most meaningful way of giving back to Mother Earth.

"From my experience at home composting biodegradable waste using simple methods and finding ways of growing veggies and herbs even in small places makes me feel that this is one of the ways I can do my share. Each minute I care for the earth in mini ways I dedicate for the healing of everyone and our dear Mother Earth," remarked Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition. 

The group also echoed the global call for climate action, as well as for socially-just and sustainable solutions to the pandemic, as the Earth Day is observed in the face of a devastating contagion that has so far infected over two million people across the planet, killed more than 170,000 - and counting.

As stated by the Earth Day Network: “The coronavirus pandemic does not shut us down.  Instead, it reminds us of what’s at stake in our fight for the planet.”

“If we don’t demand change to transform our planet and meet our climate crisis, our current state will become the new normal — a world where pandemics and extreme weather events span the globe, leaving already marginalized and vulnerable communities even more at risk,” the global network said. 



14 April 2020

EcoWaste Coalition Appeals to DENR to Recall Advisory on COVID-19 Healthcare Waste Disposal (Group Objects to Burning COVID-19 Healthcare Waste in Incinerators and Crematories)

The non-profit environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition today appealed to the authorities to recall or revoke an advisory, which if enforced, would allow the burning of COVID-19 healthcare waste in incinerators and crematories.

Through a letter e-mailed to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) OIC-Director William Cuñado, the group sought the immediate withdrawal of the “Advisory on Alternative Modes for the Disposal of Pathological and Infectious COVID-19 Healthcare Waste” issued by the EMB last March 26, which lists “thermal treatment by incineration” and “the use of crematorium” among the methods permitted.

EcoWaste Coalition President Eileen Sison pointed out in her letter that the advisory is not aligned with the spirit and intent of relevant laws, especially Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act, and Presidential Decree 856, or the Code on Sanitation of the Philippines. 

To explain her point, she cited the phase-out of incinerators for biomedical waste way back in 2003 in line with RA 8749.  As stated in the Health Care Waste Management Manual published by the Department of Health (DOH), “incineration used to be the method of choice in treating health care waste.  However, with the implementation of the Clean Air Act of 1999, the use of this method is no longer allowed.”

Among the incinerators decommissioned were the so-called “state of the art” incinerators in government hospitals that were subsequently found to emit pollutants such as dioxins way above the standards set by the DENR, the group recalled.

“The DOH manual does not make any reference to ‘thermal treatment by incineration’ and ‘the use of crematorium’ for healthcare waste requiring disinfection and treatment,” the group said. 

The EcoWaste Coalition also strongly objected to the use of crematories for healthcare waste disposal stressing that “crematories are not designed and constructed to incinerate trash.”

Under the Sanitation Code, “crematorium (is) any designated place duly authorized by law to cremate dead persons.” 

“From our perspective, it will be unlawful to use a crematorium for waste disinfection and treatment.  Allowing it will be culturally inappropriate and will be frowned upon as our society does not consider human remains as ‘waste’ and crematories as ‘waste incinerators.’  It will be culturally insensitive to cremate people who have succumbed to COVID-19 and other diseases in crematories where trash is incinerated,” said Sison. 

“The use of crematories other than for cremating human remains may result in unwarranted delay in the cremation procedures for deceased COVID-19 victims,” she warned.
It would be imprudent to consider cremation as a disposal option as some crematories may not be operating in accordance with government regulations, the EcoWaste Coalition said, citing the suspension of operation of a public crematorium at the Manila North Cemetery in 2016 for various violations of DENR’s regulations, including the lack of valid Permit to Operate, as an example. 

“In the greater interest of public health and safety, we urge the DENR and EMB to recall or revoke the said advisory without delay, and to duly consult and collaborate with the DOH and other stakeholders on matters affecting public health and the environment,” the group concluded.

Health care waste management experts Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, Merci Ferrer and Faye Ferrer have earlier assailed the EMB advisory as it “violates the law, undercuts safer and cheaper options, and poses a threat to public health and the environment.”



Copy of EMB advisory in question:



12 April 2020

Local Government Executives Urged to Heed Health Experts’ Advice against Misting or Spraying of COVID-19 Disinfectants

A non-profit environmental health organization has urged local government units (LGUs) to heed the advice by health experts against the spraying of individuals and surfaces or the misting of large areas with disinfectants in a bid to ward off or kill the novel coronavirus.

Following the precautionary advice given by the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the EcoWaste Coalition urged city and municipal mayors, as well as barangay chairpersons, to reconsider the practice of spraying or misting as a method of disinfection against the dreaded novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We urge our local government executives to pay serious attention to the precautionary advice issued by health experts and avoid the ineffective practice of misting or spraying disinfectants, which may even cause harm instead of protecting human health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Through a recent Facebook post, the DOH stated “there is no evidence to support that spraying of surfaces or large scale misting of areas, indoor or outdoor with disinfecting agents, kills the virus,” emphasizing “DOH does not recommend spraying or misting.”

The DOH further pointed out that “spraying or misting can cause pathogens to be dispersed further during spraying, result in skin irritation and inhalation of chemicals, and cause environmental pollution.”

The EcoWaste Coalition also cited the guidance issued by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention as reported in the China Daily stating that “disinfection of the open air is listed as one of the improper measures,” saying further “it may backfire by polluting the air, earth, plants, underground water and even human body.”

The group likewise cited the statement by the US Environmental Protection Agency saying it “does not recommend use of fumigation or wide-area spraying to control COVID-19,” stressing “fumigation and wide-area spraying are not appropriate tools for cleaning contaminated surfaces.”

Through an advisory posted at the Facebook page of the UP National Poison Management and Control Center, the Infection and Prevention Control Unit under WHO’s World Health Emergencies Programme also advised against spraying individuals with disinfectants for COVID-19 prevention.

‘We strongly advise that the spraying of individuals or groups is not recommended under any circumstances.  Spraying an individual or group with chemical disinfectants or detergents is physically or psychologically harmful and does not limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Maria Clara Padoveze, Infection Prevention and Control Expert, WHO.

“Even if a person is infected with the COVID-19 virus, spraying the external part of the body does not kill the virus inside the body and may worsen the clinical condition of the individual,” she explained.

“In particular, spraying of chlorine on individuals can lead to irritation of eyes and skin, bronchospasm due to inhalation, and potentially gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting,” she added.

Instead of disinfectant spraying or misting, “DOH advises to soak objects or disinfect surfaces to kill the virus,” adding “to kill the virus, objects and surfaces have to be wiped directly with 0.5% sodium hypochlorite/ bleach solution (1:10 solution)."

As for the WHO, the global health body is recommending “member states to improve hand hygiene practices widely to help prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”

Toward this, the WHO has proposed:

1.  "Providing universal access to public hand hygiene stations and making their use obligatory on entering or leaving any public or private commercial building and any public transport facility." and

2.  "Improving access to hand hygiene facilities and practices in health care facilities."



DOH announcement:

WHO advisory:

Chinese CDC statement:

US EPA statement:

09 April 2020

EcoWaste Coalition Honors COVID-19 Frontliners as Real Life Heroes on the Day of Valor and Maundy Thursday

Today, we join the government and the society in honoring the unsung real life heroes on the front line of the country’s fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Today, we fittingly pay tribute to all the COVID-19 frontliners on a special day dedicated to honor the heroism of Filipino fighters during World War II, which also falls on Maundy Thursday, a day when Jesus gave a new commandment that we are to love one another,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We honor doctors, nurses and many others performing ancillary services in facilities looking after the sick for their immeasurable sacrifices during the COVID-19 preventive lockdown.  We honor them for their heroism and for their unconditional love.  At the same time, we express regret for the discrimination, harassment, and stigma that some of them have to contend with, alongside coronavirus patients, from persons lacking in information and compassion,” she said.

“Today, let us also recognize and pay homage to other frontliners who are making it possible for us to carry on with our disrupted lives while we stay home during this health emergency,” she added.

-- Thanks to the farmers, fishers, grocers and vendors for keeping the food supplies flowing.

-- Thanks to the truckers for hauling vital goods from farms and ports to the marketplace.

-- Thanks to the food and water delivery service providers, retailers, pharmacy staff and others for providing us our needs.

-- Thanks to the garbage collectors, street disinfectors and sweepers for keeping the surroundings free of rubbish and disease-causing germs.

-- Thanks to all workers in basic public utilities, money remittances and other key establishments for the seamless continuity of essential services.

-- Thanks to all media practitioners and workers for their coverage of the pandemic and the people's situations and needs.

-- Thanks to all barangay workers for enforcing the curfew hours, liquor bans and physical distancing, and for the emergency relief assistance.

-- Thanks to all law and order personnel for keeping us safe, including operatives against hoarding and profiteering.

--  Thanks to the designers and makers of protective masks, face shields, and garments for filling up supply shortages.

-- Thanks to celebrities and nameless volunteers for their acts of charity.

-- Thanks to church, school, hotel and facility administrators for opening up their facilities for frontliners, the homeless and the sick.  

--  Thanks to funeral home and crematorium workers for giving the fallen COVID-19 victims a dignified departure.

--  Thanks to everyone in the government service for ensuring that the promised social amelioration package reaches all the needy as quickly as possible.

The EcoWaste Coalition thanked them all for their heroism, love, solidarity and for bringing out the best in us, Filipinos, amid the COVID-19 outbreak.


07 April 2020

Hazard Pay for Frontline Environmental Workers Urged for the Duration of the COVID-19 Lockdown (EcoWaste Coalition, together with labor groups, backs hazard pay for garbage collectors)

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health organization, has proposed to the government the provision of appropriate hazard pay for garbage collectors during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to stem the spread of the dreaded novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Through a letter sent via e-mail to four department secretaries, the group pointed to the need to provide assigned garbage collectors, particularly household waste and healthcare waste collectors, with some kind of hazard compensation due to the heightened health and safety risks they face in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities amid the COVID-19 outbreak.  The calculation of the requested hazard pay should begin on March 17, 2020 until the ECQ is terminated.

While President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Administrative Order No. 26 has authorized the provision of hazard pay to government employees who physically report for work during the ECQ period, the same entitlement may not apply to most garbage collectors who are often hired by waste management companies contracted by local government units (LGUs), the group said in their common letter to Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, and Budget Management Secretary Wendel Avisado. 

“As frontliners from the environmental sector in the country’s determined efforts to prevent and control COVID-19, we believe that garbage collectors are entitled to hazard pay -- regardless of their employment status – due to the risks they face in the performance of essential waste management services, which can be considered hazardous, especially under the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the coronavirus outbreak,” wrote Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition. 

The lack of clear-cut regulations for the disposal of infectious waste from households, as well as the apparent increase in the disposal of infectious waste from healthcare facilities, justify the provision of hazard pay for these frontline environmental workers, the group said. 

“Without their indispensable service, we may be faced with even more environmental and health hazards from uncollected waste,” emphasized Sison.

In the absence of a law requiring employers from providing their employees with hazard pay, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the four department secretaries “to use moral suasion to strongly encourage employers of garbage collectors -- be they private companies or LGUs -- to grant them daily hazard pay during the ECQ period.”  

As some waste management companies and/or LGUs may be unwilling or financially constrained to offer hazard pay for garbage collectors, the group requested the national government to take on such responsibility with urgency as a humanitarian gesture in these most trying times. 

“Such action will be in sync with Republic Act 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, particularly on the ‘provision of safety nets to all affected sectors’ of COVID-19.  These can be factored in the social amelioration benefits, or the disaster funds of the LGUs,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Several labor organizations have supported the provision of hazard pay for garbage collectors that is being pushed by the EcoWaste Coalition through e-mails and text messages sent to the group.

Among the groups backing the proposed hazard pay for garbage collectors are the  Associated Labor Unions – Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP-NCR), Consolidated Council of Health and Allied Profession (CCHAP-PSLINK), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Public Workers Congress (PUBLIK), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), and the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO).


03 April 2020

Reusable Bags and Containers for COVID-19 Food Packs Get Thumbs Up from Green Group

As the authorities work double-time to get food packs delivered to poor families badly hit by the COVID-19 health crisis, an environmental health group lauded efforts to cut down on throw-away single-use plastics (SUPs) through the use of reusable bags and containers.

“We recognize the efforts by some food pack givers from both the public and private sectors to put together relief items in reusable bags and containers instead of SUPs that can only add to the plastic pollution crisis our nation is wrestling with,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As April is the month of planet Earth, we hope that more groups will follow suit and bring environmental sustainability to the forefront of the whole-of-society approach to COVID-19 prevention and control,” he said.

The group’s plea for environmental sustainability complemented Environment and Natural Resources Roy Cimatu’s call last Tuesday urging “all Filipinos to turn the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to form earth-friendly habits,” including the “use of environment-friendly materials to minimize trash.”

“The use of reusable packaging materials for COVID-19 relief, as well as for other emergency and crisis situations, is certainly environment-friendly and should be the general rule,” Benosa said.   

Reusable bags for food packs can serve as carry bags for groceries and other dry goods, pails can be reused for storing water or as a container for wet goods such as fish, poultry and meat, and corrugated boxes can be recycled or reused in a variety of ways, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Additionally, t-shirts (with no ‘epal’ messages, of course) can also be re-purposed as containers for relief goods, it added.

The group also encouraged the authorities and other givers to provide food baskets consisting of fresh and nutritious food from local farmers and fishers.

“By supporting our local farmers and fishers during the enhanced quarantine period, we ensure that all families will have access to vitamin-rich and immune system food boosters that can help individuals in fighting the coronavirus,” Benosa said.

“Buying the products of our farmers and fishers is a good way of recognizing them as frontliners in the fight against COVID-19.  This is an excellent way to thank them for their toils to get food to our markets and tables,” he emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition also encouraged food pack givers to consider purchasing bayong and other native bags from local weavers and community enterprises.

“Bayong made out of buri and pandan leaves and other locally available plant materials is the ‘ecological weapon of choice’ that we, Filipinos, could use to combat climate and plastic pollution at home,” the group said.