29 November 2013

Newly-Installed Barangay Officials Urgedto Go Zero Waste to Solve Garbage Woes

(Photo Courtesy by Dennis Sabangan/EPA)
A waste and pollution watchdog today called on new barangay officials who will assume office starting tomorrow, 30 November, to take priority action to prevent and reduce waste generation and disposal in their respective communities.

“We call upon all newly-installed barangay captains and councilors to work together in building garbage and toxic-free communities that are healthier and safer for our children to live in,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Please take to heart the much-needed waste prevention and reduction efforts to rid our communities of wastes and toxins, which could also pave by the way for greater mass participation on matters pertaining to public health, the environment and the climate,” she said.

“Such barangay-led initiatives can save lots of public funds and open up decent employment and livelihood opportunities from the reuse, repair, recycling and composting of waste resources,” she stated.

“Considering the dire impacts of extreme weather disturbances due to climate change, it will be essential for all barangays to integrate Zero Waste into their community disaster preparedness and resilience programs so that trash is prevented and properly managed at all times, including during post-disaster clearing operations” she added.

To start with, the new barangay councils should conduct a critical review of their ecological solid waste management programs, reconstitute their solid waste management committee if needed, set progressive goals and targets, and strategize on how to improve current performance, including maximizing the vital role of the informal waste sector.

The EcoWaste Coalition lamented that Republic Act 9003 despite being signed in 2000 remained to be inadequately enforced.

Also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, R.A. 9003 provides for a comprehensive and eco-friendly approach to managing discards mainly through waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting, excluding waste incineration.

R.A. 9003 specifically requires the country’s over 42,000 barangays to develop ecological solid waste management programs, promote waste separation at source, enforce a segregated collection for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, and establish Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in every barangay or cluster of barangays.

The MRFs, or Ecology Centers as they are also called, are essential in the ecological management of discards that would otherwise end up in storm drains and rivers aggravating flood problems, or get disposed of in dumpsites, landfills or incinerators resulting to the discharge of toxic leachate, greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and other hazardous substances.

According to the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), there are only 9,611 MRFs nationwide serving 10,529 barangays, while 993 illegal dumpsites continue to operate.

As per data by the NSWMC, Metro Manila produces 8,400 to 8,600 tons of garbage daily, or about one fourth of the national daily waste generation of some 35,000 tons.




27 November 2013

Watchdog Finds Dangerous Levels of Lead in 43 Fashion Blings and Things

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog, has found dangerous levels of lead, a highly toxic chemical, in many inexpensive fashion blings and things being sold in Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila as Christmas shopping soars.

Out of 65 samples that it purchased from various retailers for P15 to P125 each, the group detected lead up to 388,000 parts per million (ppm) in 43  samples, way above the EU limit of 500 ppm for lead in jewelry articles or the US limit of 100 ppm for lead in children’s products, including kids’ jewelry.

Twenty of the 43 lead-tainted samples had lead above 100,000 ppm, the group pointed out.

“We are gravely concerned that curious kids might pick and put these extremely leaded blings and things into their mouths and  swallow them by mistake, causing serious health problems such as acute lead poisoning that can kill an innocent child,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Such poisonous items will be unlawful to sell in developed countries,” she added.

Lucero recalled the heartrending case of Jarnell Brown, a four-year old boy from Minnesota, USA who died in 2006 few days after accidentally swallowing a heart-shaped metal charm containing excessive amounts of lead.

Other adverse health effects of lead exposure in children that can have lifelong consequences include brain and nervous system damage, decreased IQ levels, learning disabilities, delayed growth, hearing loss and behavioral problems.

Equipped with a screening device called the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, the group found extreme levels of lead in specific components of some bracelets, brooches, earrings, necklaces, rings and other accessories.

Some of the most leaded items include:

1. A bracelet and earring set with heart charms, 388,000 ppm
2. A brooch with flower and leaf design, 307,400 ppm
3. A brooch with bird design, 272,700 ppm
4. A necklace with assorted pendants, 243,000 ppm
5. A necklace with pearl-like beads and butterfly and flower
ornaments, 232,700 ppm
6. A red and white skull earring, 232,600 ppm
7. A flower design earring, 215,100 ppm
8. A green slipper pendant, 214,600 ppm
9. A double ring with heads of two dragons, 196,900 ppm
10. A green Hello Kitty earring, 172,000 ppm
11. A Spongebob SquarePants pendant, 171,700 ppm
12. A double ring with two dragons, 155,800 ppm
13. An antique-like bracelet, 132,100 ppm
14. An earring with flower design, 131,000 ppm

In addition to the above 14 items, six other items had lead exceeding 100,000 ppm.

None of the samples indicated their lead content to warn consumers.

The prevalence of unlabeled leaded imitation jewelry and fashion accessories in the market, which are mostly obtained from overseas, prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to prod the government to act.

The group specifically urged the government to come up with a health-based policy banning the use of lead in jewelry, including children’s jewelry, for public health and safety.

The group also urged traders not to sell dubious items and for consumers not to buy such items unless certified safe from lead and other toxic metals.





25 November 2013

Laboratory Tests Detect Toxic Phthalates in Toys

Question: what do some kiddie boxing gloves, squeaky toy, soft ball and play chair have in common?  Answer: toxic phthalates.

Phthalates, which are industrial chemicals often used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and are linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, were detected in some toy samples in violation of Philippine, US and EU regulations.

The EcoWaste Coalition reported that four of the five toy samples it purchased from legitimate retail outlets and sent to a private laboratory for analysis contained certain phthalates above the allowable maximum concentrations of 0.1 percent as stipulated in relevant regulations of the European Union, the United States and the Philippines.

The EU Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation (EC) 1907/2006, the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and the Philippine Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-0005-A prohibit three types of phthalates for use in children's toys such as di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), and further prohibit the use of three other phthalates such as diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) in toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth.

Phthalates from the five samples were extracted and analyzed in Taiwan by SGS, a global testing company, using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) as required in the “Standard Operating Procedure for Determination of Phthalates” of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Laboratory test results showed that:

1.  A green vinyl frog from a pack of five squeaky animal toys obtained for P50 had 34.5% DINP and 0.295% DIDP;

2.  A “Spence” soft ball from a pack of four vinyl balls procured for P129.75 had 7.08% DEHP and 0.284% DINP.

3.  A “Funny Toys” kiddie boxing gloves made of vinyl with “SpongeBob Squarepants” design purchased for P33 had 6.75 % DEHP; and

4.  An unlabeled yellow play chair with “Winnie the Pooh” vinyl seat bought for P179.75 had 1.5% DEHP.

“Based on the lab test results, we call upon the government and the industry, including toy retailers, to immediately order the removal of these toys off the store shelves, to prevent harm to children’s health,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“As we have just scratched the surface, we request our health authorities to search for more phthalate-contaminated toys in the local market and have them recalled at once,” he added.

Citing data from the EU rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products, Dizon said that since 2010 European governments have withdrawn some 483 toy products from the market, including 124 toys recalled in 2013, for violating the REACH regulation on phthalates. 

“Consumer safety-conscious retailers should stop selling PVC toys.  They should further demand that toy manufacturers, importers and distributors test their toy products for phthalates and other chemicals of concern, and to fully disclose such information on the product labels and the companies’ websites,” he emphasized.

According to the Endocrine Society, phthalates are primarily used as plasticizers in the manufacture of flexible vinyl plastic which, in turn, is used in consumer products, flooring, and wall coverings, food contact applications, medical devices and personal-care products (e. g ., perfumes, lotions, cosmetics).

“Human exposure to phthalates is widespread and occurs through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact,” said the Endocrine Society, the world's oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology.

Phthalates are believed to alter hormonal functions and are classified as among the endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

Scientific studies have linked phthalate exposures to reproductive and development health issues such as deformed penises, undescended testicles, precocious puberty, infertility, shorter pregnancy duration and birth defects.

Studies have likewise linked phthalates to asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, obesity and cancer.



Additional Information:

According to Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-0005-A as amended in December 2011, “it shall be unlawful to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the country any children’s toy that contains concentration of more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).”

The same directive prohibits three more types of phthalates in “any children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent).”

23 November 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Campaigns for Safe Toys in QC as Test Shows 49% of 150 Sampled Toys Toxic (Group Steps Up Toy Drive for Super Typhoon Yolanda's Child Survivors)


The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network, today conducted a toy clinic to screen toys for health-damaging toxic metals, as well as collected toy donations for child survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.

The back-to-back event was held at Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) in cooperation with the Office of District 1 Councilor and President Pro-Tempore Dorothy Delarmente and the Quezon City Parks Development and Administration Department.

The event took place soon after a resolution was filed by Quezon City Councilors Delarmente, Lena Marie Juico and Eden Delilah Medina directing the Quezon City Health Department “to conduct toy safety awareness and enforcement activities” in the city.

It also came on the heels of the EcoWaste Coalition’s latest toy sampling and toy drive for Yolanda’s child victims, which aims to gather safe play things to help kids in affected areas cope with the disaster trauma in partnership with the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS).

“As the toy shopping season soars, we urge consumers to be alert and nosy if only to protect vulnerable children from hidden chemical hazards in some toys,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Consumers should choose safe toys and refrain from buying unlabeled, unregistered and untested toys from non-compliant toy makers and dealers," he emphasized.

The councilors, through their sponsored resolution, also “(appealed) to all toy manufacturers, importers, distributors and vendors to strictly adhere to existing government toy regulations and to prioritize children’s health and safety over and above profits.”

During the event, the EcoWaste team screened toys bought by consumers from “tiangge” stalls operating at the QMC and analyzed these on-the-spot for lead and other toxic metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

A team of resource persons led by pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio, head of the East Avenue Medical Center, was present to offer advice to consumers on practical ways to prevent children from being exposed to hazardous chemicals such as lead in toys.

At the event, the EcoWaste Coalition also revealed the results of its toy sampling for November 2013, which analyzed assorted toys worth P10 to P239.75 each that were procured from some several formal and informal retailers in Araneta Center - Cubao, Ever Gotesco Commonwealth Center and toy stores in Muñoz and Novaliches, Quezon City.

Out of 150 samples, 73 items (49%) were found to contain at least one toxic metal above levels of concern such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury that were not indicated on the product labels. 

Out of these 73 toxic items, 54 were found to specifically contain lead, a potent neurotoxin, about the US limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint and surface coatings.

Examples of toxic toy products, many of which contain multiple heavy metals that increase the possibility of harm, include:

1. “SpongeBob Squarepants" yellow painted play chair with 7,263 ppm lead, 2,563 ppm chromium and 635 ppm arsenic.
2. “Justice League Superman” stuffed toy with 6,735 ppm lead, 2,415 ppm chromium, 271 ppm arsenic and 180 ppm antimony.
3. “Style Beauty Series” doll with 5,467 ppm lead, 849 ppm chromium and 177 ppm arsenic.
4. “Racer Fast King” yellow car with 4,957 ppm lead.
5. Unlabeled rag doll with yellow hat with 4,954 ppm lead, 1,953 ppm chromium, 666 ppm arsenic and 31 ppm mercury.
6. “Fashion” doll with 3,868 ppm lead, 2,449 ppm chromium and 297 ppm arsenic.
7. “Wonderful Music” xylophone with 2,843 ppm lead and 1,772 ppm chromium.
8. “Farm Set” brown goat with 1,771 ppm lead.
9. “Dora” headband with 1,437 ppm lead.
10. “Barbie” toy mobile phone with 1,263 ppm lead.
11. Unlabeled green orange toy gun with 1,159 ppm antimony.
12. “Pretty Girl” make-up set with 75 ppm mercury.

Citing the views of health experts, Councilors Delarmente, Juico and Medina warned that there is “no safe threshold for lead exposure among children.”

In the resolution they filed, the councilors enumerated the adverse health effects of lead exposure, including “mental retardation, developmental delays, learning disabilities, lower intelligence quotient scores, poor school performance, attention deficit disorder, aggression and other behavioral problems, as well as anemia, hearing loss and kidney damage.”


21 November 2013

Statement re FDA's Latest Health Warning vs Mercury-Laced Skin Whitening Cosmetics

 Erna Whitening Cream
   Gemli Beauty Series Freckles Cream Plus Placenta Extract
 Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream
 LMSER Whitening Cream
 Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream Plus Complex Vitamin C & E
 Top Shirley Nourishing Cream
 White Magnolia Intensive Repair Essence & Powerful Spot Remover
Zhjren Whitening Ruddy Combination Suit
Zhjren 7 Day Beauty Elegant Moisturizing & Whitening Day Cream
 Angel Placenta Whitening Cream (Tender Skin & Whitening)
Baschi Whitening Cream
 Baschi Day and Night Cream
Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Freckle-Removing Series
 Yu Yan Excellent Yest Intensive Night Cream
 Excellent Royalsuffi Fade Out Day Cream

Group photo of the 45 mercury-tainted skin whitening cosmetics procured and analyzed by the EcoWaste Coalition during test buys conducted in July-August 2013 in Metro Manila, Cebu City and Davao City.
The EcoWaste Coalition lauds the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for barring the sale of 11 more imported skin whitening products tainted with mercury through FDA Advisory 2013-053 dated 20 November 2013.  This inflates the total number of mercury-laden skin lightening creams prohibited by the agency - from 2010 to date - to 104 products. Banning over a hundred mercury-containing cosmetics is a public health achievement that can earn the Philippine government a Guinness World Record.

These 11 newly-proscribed cosmetics were among the 45 mercury-laced skin whitening creams that the group obtained in test buys conducted between July 22 to August 17, 2013 in Metro Manila, Cebu City and Davao City and consequently submitted to the FDA for confirmatory laboratory analysis:

1. Angel Placenta Whitening Cream (Tender Skin & Whitening)
2. Erna Whitening Cream
3. Gemli Beauty Series Freckles Cream Plus Placenta Extract
4. Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream
5. Jiaoli Speckle Dispelling & Whitening Cream
6. LMSER Whitening Cream
7. Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream Plus Complex Vitamin C & E
8. Top Shirley Nourishing Cream
9. White Magnolia Intensive Repair Essence & Powerful Spot Remover
10.Zhjren Whitening Ruddy Combination Suit
11. Zhjren 7 Day Beauty Elegant Moisturizing & Whitening Day Cream

In addition, the FDA prohibited the sale of five more products for failure to obtain prior market authorization or notification from the agency:

1. Baschi Day and Night Cream
2. Baschi Whitening Cream
3. Excellent Royalsuffi Fade Out Day Cream
4. Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Freckle-Removing Series
5. Yu Yan Excellent Yest Intensive Night Cream

We commend the agency for taking action against mercury-laden cosmetics, which is a health threat to users and non-users alike and to the environment.   According to a UNEP publication on "Mercury in Products and Wastes, “mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects including skin rashes (contact dermatitis and acne venenata), discolouring and scarring (post inflammatory dyschromia), and can reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders,” while “direct and prolonged exposure through the skin during repeated applications can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys.”

Removing mercury-tainted cosmetics in the market augurs well for our government’s backing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury that was signed by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje at a UN Diplomatic Conference held in Japan last month.  The global treaty provides controls and reductions across a range of products (including cosmetics), processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted.

As an advocate for chemical safety and zero waste, the EcoWaste Coalition will continue to keep track of and make noise about hazardous substances in products and wastes to protect the Filipino people, especially our women, children, workers and other vulnerable sectors, against toxic exposure.

By Aileen Lucero
National Coordinator
EcoWaste Coalition
21 November 2013


19 November 2013

EcoWaste Coalition: Cancel Fireworks Shows, Shun Firecrackers, Help Typhoon Victims

19 November 2013, Quezon City.   A waste and pollution watchdog has called on local government units, private companies and individual revelers to divert money to be spent for fireworks and firecrackers to
relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the call after Makati City cancelled its annual New Year’s Eve countdown featuring live performances and a fabulous fireworks display as announced by Mayor Jejomar Erwin
“Junjun” Binay.

“Government and corporate organizers should take their cue from Makati City and drop plans to hold fireworks spectacles in deference to the victims of monster typhoon Yolanda,” said Aileen Lucero, National
Coordinator, EcoWaste  Coalition.

“Burning money for lavish parties and fireworks shows amid the heartbreaking cry for help by the disaster victims will be the height of apathy,” she pointed out.

“The cancellation of pyrotechnic displays will save millions of pesos that can alleviate the suffering of the victims, while preventing the discharge of toxins and wastes into the environment,” she said.

“It would be coldhearted to proceed with these costly and polluting acts while millions suffer from the debilitating tragedy,” she said.

“President Aquino or Secretary Roxas should issue an executive or department administrative order enjoining LGUs to call off planned fireworks shows and, by example, lead their constituents in observing
simple Christmas celebrations with the welfare of the Yolanda survivors in their hearts and minds,” she suggested.

Lucero likewise appealed to all individuals who are used to detonating firecrackers to drop the habit and  opt for cleaner, quieter and safer ways of ushering in the New Year.

Aside from causing preventable injuries and deaths, exploding firecrackers can cause massive environmental and climate pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Air pollution, the group observed, is aggravated by the release of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere that can cause allergies, heart disturbances, asthma attack and respiratory ailments, including bronchitis, laryngitis, emphysema and pneumonia.

Water pollution is exacerbated by fallouts and residues from firecrackers and fireworks that go down to storm drains, rivers and seas contaminating the marine ecosystems, the group noted.

Land pollution is worsened by the generation of non-recyclable and non-reusable paputok waste, including cellophane, plastic and paper scraps, as well as used PVC pipes from “boga” (mock cannon), the group

Finally, warlike noise pollution is produced by the loud bangs and tremors that can disturb, upset and scare humans as well as animals, and even damage the sense of hearing, the group said.


17 November 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Collects Safe Toys for Child Victims of Monster Typhoon Yolanda

Photo by Dennis M. Sabangan/EPA
An environmental organization has launched a toy drive to assist child survivors of super typhoon Yolanda in easing the anxiety and trauma they have gone through.

Through a press release, the EcoWaste Coalition invited the private and public sectors to share new or used toys, as well as books for kids, to replace what typhoon Yolanda has mercilessly taken away from the children.

The group made the appeal ahead of the Universal Children’s Day on November 20, which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, which affirms that “state parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”

“While we know that the support and encouragement from adults is key to enabling affected kids cope with the mounting death and despair around them, we believe that books to read and toys to play with can help them face the tragedy with more hopefulness,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“In the absence of child counselors and therapists in many of the typhoon-wrecked communities, and with the support systems in churches, schools and villages still in disarray, it’s important for these kids to have something to cheer them up amid the destruction,” she said.

“We already have few boxes of clean toys from our previous toy sampling activities, and we hope to gather more to make more kids feel that they are cared about,” she also said.

Lucero reminded donors not to give broken toys as such toys might only hurt the kids or add to negative emotions instead of instilling positive attitudes among them.

She also requested donors to refrain from giving toys made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, particularly things that kids can put into their mouths, to avoid potential ingestion of phthalates and other harmful chemical additives.

The EcoWaste Coalition will screen the toy donations for chemical, choking, laceration and strangulation hazards before sending them to child survivors through church, community or professional associations.

The group, in particular, will use a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer to determine if the toys given are safe from toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury.

The EcoWaste Coalition will receive toy and book donations until November 30, 2013, which can be sent to their office at Unit 329, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., Barangay Central, Quezon City.

Meanwhile, another Quezon City-based environmental group promoting zero waste is accepting cash donations until December 31, 2013 for the purchase of carpentry kits to help typhoon survivors rebuild their homes.

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) has initiated the drive to help families reconstruct their houses by providing them with carpentry kits consisting of a standard hammer, a kilo of nails, plier, handsaw and 100 feet of nylon rope.

“In the recovery phase, the common need of survivor families is to rebuild their homes, most of which are made of wooden exterior walls, bamboo or wooden posts and flooring, and corrugated iron sheet or else grass roofs,” the group said. 

“Many families however that have moved more quickly to recovery lack the basic carpentry tools for these types of materials,” it observed.

GAIA therefore decided to focus on soliciting and accepting donations for these basic tools, and along with it, to send out a suggestion that usable materials from destroyed houses and buildings can be reused to rebuild homes.

To donate, please visit



Cancer-Causing Cadmium Found in Cheap Fashion Accessories and Jewelries

Cadmium, a known carcinogen, has been found in some costume accessories and jewelries being sold at bead and trinket shops in Quiapo, Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the discovery after analyzing 50 samples of bracelets, brooches, earrings, hair clips, necklaces and fashion accessories bought for P15 to P80 each from seven specialty stores along Evangelista and Villalobos Streets.

“We were shocked to find high levels of cadmium in jewelries and ornaments that are quite popular among girls and women,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The excessive amounts of cadmium detected in over half of the samples would make them illegal to sell in Europe,” she declared.

“The government should severely restrict cadmium in accessories and jewelries that may get into children’s hands, and manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers should not market cadmium-laden products to which children might be exposed,” she pointed out.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device, the group detected cadmium up to 165,300 parts per million in 26 out of 50 samples, far above the European Union’s limit of 100 ppm for cadmium content in jewelry.

Under the EU Regulation 494/2011, cadmium in jewelry is restricted to 0.01 % (or 100 ppm) by weight of the metal in metal beads and other metal components for jewelry making,  metal parts of jewelry and imitation jewelry articles and hair accessories, including bracelets, necklaces and rings, piercing jewelry, wrist-watches and wrist-wear, brooches and cufflinks.

Cadmium may be present in jewelry as part of metal alloys, as solder, or as pigment or stabilizer in non-metal components such as ceramics, plastics or paint coatings.

Cadmium is harmful when inhaled, ingested or absorbed by the skin.

Based on the analysis conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, the following 16 samples showed very high concentrations of cadmium:

1. An Angry Birds trinket, 165,300 ppm
2. A Bunny trinket, 162,300 ppm
3. A peacock brooch, 160,000 ppm
4. An apple trinket, 157,900 ppm
5. A cartoon character trinket, 157,200 ppm
6. A strawberry trinket, 157,100 ppm
7. A silver bracelet with red accent, 153,600
8. A Poka trinket, 153,000 ppm
9. A  silver bracelet with flower, leaf and elephant danglers, 152,900 ppm
10. A guitar trinket, 129,400 ppm
11. A black Hello Kitty earrings, 80,000 ppm
12. A red lip-shaped ornament with stones, 96,300 ppm.
13. A green color slipper pendant with stones, 63,600 ppm
14. A turquoise color Hello Kitty earrings, 29,300 ppm
15.  A five-piece orange bangles, 27,300 ppm
16.  A hair clip with bird design and red stones, 16,900 ppm

Lucero observed that the "Hong Mei" fashion accessories, which had the highest levels of cadmium among the samples, provided the following warning information: “This is not a toy; please take it away from children’s hands.”

She noted however that “this warning label is inadequate as it does not explicitly disclose the product’s cadmium content, which, in addition to choking risk, is the other major hazard why it should not be touched by kids.” 

Cadmium and cadmium compounds are classified as “carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which means that “there is sufficient evidence for their carcinogenicity in humans."

Cadmium is also recognized as a reproductive and developmental toxin associated with reduced birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth, spontaneous abortion and birth defects in humans, as well with behavioral and learning disabilities.

Along with arsenic, asbestos, benzene, dioxins, lead, mercury, highly hazardous pesticides and other substances, cadmium is considered by the World Health Organization as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”

Cadmium and its compounds also belong to the Philippine Priority Chemicals List or substances determined by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau to potentially pose unreasonable risk to public health, workplace, and the environment.”



12 November 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Proposes Austere Christmas Celebration in the Face of Tragedy

12 November 2013, Quezon City. “Make it simple.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog, aired this three-word direct appeal to all Filipinos observing Christmas, the nation’s most festive celebration.

The group’s plea for austere Christmas festivities came on the heels of super typhoon Yolanda’s wrath that killed countless people and devastated vast agricultural, commercial and residential areas in the Visayas and other places.

“We invite members of the society, including the government and business sectors, to aim for the simplest celebration of Christmas and use the funds saved to support the huge relief and rehabilitation needs of the victims of the monster typhoon,” Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Compassion is the call of the hour and a leaner, kinder and greener Christmas is one way through which we can show our solidarity with the disaster victims,” she added.

“An austere celebration will not in any way diminish the real meaning of Christmas, but will, in fact, unravel the true meaning of the season,” she pointed out.

Among the things that can be toned down, according to the group, are the extravagant decorations, shopping splurges, lavish parties as well as over-the-top bonuses of some government and business executives.

Among the things that can be completely given up are the firecrackers and firework displays, especially those paid out of public funds, “which are not only costly, but dangerous and polluting as well,” the group said.

An austere celebration will also translate to less “holitrash” (holiday trash) resulting from the all-out consumption spree, the group further said.

For example, Metro Manila’s waste generation of 8,400 to 8,600 tons daily increase by one-third during the holiday season due to the extended festivities.


2013 Global Day of Action Against Burning Waste for Dirty Energy is a Great Success (More than 25 actions in 13 countries across 6 continents mobilize thousands against incineration and for zero waste and clean energy solutions)

An international network of environmental, health, advocacy and anti-poverty groups organized the first global month of action against dirty energy from October 11 to November 11, 2013.  Called Reclaim Power, the month of action included a November 8th day of action against something not traditionally seen as a form of dirty energy – burning waste, otherwise known as incineration.

“The November 8th day of action was an incredible success in uniting communities fighting so-called waste to energy projects across the globe, and in raising awareness among people of conscience that burning waste burns our future, while failing to address the real need for zero waste and clean energy solutions,” says Mariel Vilella, Climate Campaign Director for The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

The Day of Action included an unprecedented Global resolution against incineration as dirty energy, signed by 325 organizations from 60 countries as well as more than 25 actions in 13 countries across 6 different continents. The actions varied in size, tactics and focus but were all united by a common purpose:

  •        Highlighting incineration -- the industrial burning of waste -- as dirty, unsustainable, unjust, and as carbon-intensive as burning any other fossil fuel that harms people and pollutes the climate.
  •          Demonstrating the fact that energy generated from incinerators is negligible and non-renewable.
  •      Promoting the real solution of zero waste which creates jobs, saves money, and is an essential strategy to combat climate change, and which is already being successfully implemented in cities around the world.
In the Philippines, despite concerns over the tragic consequences of Super Typhoon Yolanda, Philippine ZW activists persevered and conducted 2 actions.  The first was a collective action collage that spells out: “Waste to Energy is Dirty Energy! Don't Burn our Future!” Photos of EcoWaste staff and members holding up phrases/words in front of a cement kiln in Bulacan province, the Payatas landfill and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources were taken to complete the sentence Waste to Energy is Dirty Energy!  Photos of members/staff were again taken in front of national landmarks in Cebu City, Davao City and Manila to complete "Don't Burn our Future!" with Grade 1 children from the Kamuing Elementary school holding up the word "future".

In a separate action, CYCAD (Cycling Advocates) held their 4th annual caravan to promote the use of bikes as a non-polluting, low-impact, alternative mode of transport, to call for safer streets for bikers and to petition local governments to create and support bike-friendly streets. The caravan moves through the 17 cities/municipalities of Metro Manila. This year, about 250 bikers participated in the caravan carrying “don’t burn our future” flags and posters, linking biking to waste, pollution and dirty energy reduction.

“While the supposed benefits of waste-to-energy technologies may appear too good to pass up, the process of burning wastes is unsustainable and polluting as useful materials that can still be reused, recycled or composted are burned to produce energy,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Studies show that burning recyclable or reusable resources initiates a climate-changing cycle of new resources drawn out of the Earth, processed in factories, shipped and used around the world, and then wasted in incinerators and landfills,” she added.

“National laws mandating proper waste management in the country are already in place. The Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act prohibit burning of waste, and the latter also sets a systematic, comprehensive and ecological waste management scheme that will lead to a Zero Waste Philippines,” stated Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator of the Philippine Earth Justice Center, Cebu City.

“Incineration or waste burning contradicts every effort to properly implement the ecological waste management law that guarantees materials conservation,” Atty. Ramos emphasized.

For her part, Betty Cabazares, Executive Director of Kinaiyahan Foundation in Davao City, added that such technologies “directly competes with smaller industries and communities engaged in recycling, composting and collecting of discards and other usable materials, and undermines commendable efforts by some local government units to promote environmental stewardship among its citizens.”

GAIA and EcoWaste Coalition have long been supporting communities who have been fighting the adverse health and environmental effects of incinerators across the globe.  The latest industry attempt to greenwash incineration as so-called “clean and renewable waste to energy” has reinvigorated the international fight against incineration and for zero waste alternatives.

The Global “Don’t Burn our Future Resolution” launched as part of this day of action points to the way forward for the movement: 325 organizations in 60 countries resolved to include waste incineration in education efforts against dirty energy, work to ban incineration from governments’ renewable energy portfolio and/or subsidy programs, work to get governments to divest from all types of incinerators, and support Zero Waste communities and resilient local economies as the truly clean and renewable way of the future.