31 August 2016

Toxic Chemicals from E-Waste Found in Brain Toys Sold in Philippine Market

Analytical Results of Four Samples of counterfeit Rubik's Cube from the Philippines

Manila, Philippines/Firenze, Italy. Some toys that are designed to exercise the mind  may  contain toxic  chemicals from recycled electronic waste, which can damage the central nervous system and reduce children’s intellectual capacity.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on chemicals and wastes, aired this observation following the announcement  of the results of a global survey on toxic chemicals in brain toys at a scientific conference on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Firenze, Italy.

The study, undertaken by IPEN (a global civil society network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices) and Arnika (an environmental organization in the Czech Republic) showed that samples of Rubik’s Cube-like toys from 16 countries, including the Philippines, contained toxic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) called OctaBDE and/or DecaBDE.

Both OctaBDE and DecaBDE are brominated flame retardant chemicals primarily used in plastic casings of electronic products. These chemicals are known to disrupt human hormone systems, adversely impacting the development of the nervous system and children’s intelligence.

Four of the 10 samples of  Rubik's Cube-like toys imported from China that the EcoWaste Coalition bought from retailers in Manila and shipped to the Czech Republic for laboratory analysis were found to contain significant levels of OctaBDE and/or DecaBDE.  One of the samples from the Philippines  tested with the highest concentration of OctaBDE among 47 samples from 16 countries, including European Union, Eastern European and Southeast Asian countries.

Out of the 41 samples of puzzle cubes and six additional samples (thermo cup, hair clip,  hand band, finger skateboard, toy robot and hockey stick), 40 samples (85%) contained OctaBDE at concentrations ranging from 1 to 108 parts per million (ppm), while 42 samples (89%) contained DecaBDE, a toxic chemical commonly found in electronic waste, between 1 to 293 ppm.
OctaBDE is already banned under the Stockholm Convention on POPs, an international chemical treaty ratified by the Philippine government in 2004, while Deca BDE is expected to be banned when the POPs Review Committee meets in September 2016.  

“Puzzle toys similar to Rubik’s Cubes are supposed to promote children’s intelligence, but the presence of brominated flame retardants from recycled e-waste  creates the quite the opposite impact on  children who play with them. Recycling e-waste can save resources and energy, but it must be done in a way that does not put banned toxic substances back into commerce, which can threaten human health and the environment,“ explained Jitka Strakova,  Coordinator of the survey from Arnika.

“Our discovery of  banned  chemicals from e-waste in  common consumer products such as toys is probably just the tip of the iceberg.  Considering the inadequate chemical safety regulations in place, it is likely that these toxic  substances are being recycled into a range of products that  consumers are not aware of,“ said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 

“For the health of our children and workers, we urge our policy makers to grant no recycling exemption for POPs such OctaBDE and DecaBDE.  This dirty recycling, which often takes place in low and middle income countries, is spreading poisons in recycling sites, in our homes and in our bodies,“ he further said.

In 2009,  the Stockholm Convention listed PentaBDE and OctaBDE for global elimination, but the treaty  still permits the recycling of materials containing these toxic  chemicals until 2030.

“As long as we allow the recycling exemptions, we will be unable to control the flow of these dangerous flame retardants,“ said Joe DiGangi, Senior Science and Technical Advisor of IPEN.


IPEN is a leading global network of 700 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in more than 100 developing countries and countries with economies in transition. IPEN works to establish and implement safe chemicals policies and practices to protect human health and the environment. EcoWaste Coalition and Arnika are active members of the network.www.ipen.org  twitter: @ToxicsFree

Arnika  is a Czech NGO   that seeks to  promote public participation in environmental decision-making processes, reduce toxic substances and wastes,  and protect biodiversity.  www.arnika.org, www.english.arnika.org

29 August 2016

Consumers Urged to Heed FDA’s Health Warnings vs. Unnotified Cosmetics

 Unnotified Jiachuntang Ban Gan Jing Qu Ban Shuang skin whitening cream with high mercury content.
Some of the unnotified cosmetics banned last August 22, 2016 under FDA Advisory 2016-94.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a chemical safety and zero waste advocacy group, urged consumers to pay attention to the successive public health warnings issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against unregistered cosmetics that may pose potential health hazards.

In the months of July and August, the agency issued six advisories warning the public against the purchase and use of 60 products that lack cosmetic product notifications and whose quality and safety cannot be guaranteed by the FDA.

The EcoWaste Coalition provided the FDA with 20 of these non-compliant products, including Jiachuntang Ban Gan Jing Qu Ban Shuang, a skin whitening facial cream with high concentrations of mercury as screened by the group and subsequently confirmed by the FDA through laboratory analysis. 

Cosmetic products, prior to being placed into the local market, must be duly notified with the agency by a licensed cosmetic distributor and/or manufacturer, according to the FDA.

“We remind the public to reject personal care and cosmetic products that have not undergone quality and safety verification by the FDA as these can pose serious health risks to users and even non-users such as babies and young children,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.  

“Heed the FDA’s health warnings and save yourself from injury and harm.  It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he added.

The government has warned that “if a cosmetic product has not been verified by FDA as in the case of these unnotified products, the use of such products may pose potential health hazards to the consuming public.” 

“Potential hazards may come from ingredients that are not allowed to be part of a cosmetic product or from the contamination of heavy metals such as lead and mercury,” it explained. 

“The use of substandard and possibly adulterated cosmetic products may result to   reactions including but not limited to skin irritation, itchiness, anaphylactic shock and organ failure,” it added.

FDA Advisory 2016-105, issued on August 22, banned the following unnotified cosmetics:  Active Care Green Tea Deep Shine Baien Beautiful Inimitable (golden yellow), Bleaching Original Soap, Bremod Performance Spa Hair Color, Chanleevi Lipstick, Clarisse Feminine Cleansing Wash, Excel Paris Lip Gloss, Glutathione Original Soap, Lip Balm (red and yellow), Nyx Lip Smacking Fun Colors, Schwarzokdp Vision Charm Bewith, Skin Vibrant Natural Soap (collagen + whitening,  gluta + whitening and tea tree) and White Magnolia Treble Activating Skin Extract for Removing Dead Skin. 

FDA Advisory 2016-095, also issued on August 22, banned the following unnotified cosmetics: Meiya Hide the Blemish Concealer, Meiya Two Way Cake Powder (blue, light pink and dark pink), Meiya Pan Stick, Oseur O Mei Su Pearl Paste, Perfect Purity for Kids Gentle Bubble Bath, Perfect Purity Moisturizing Baby Oil, Personal Care Aloe Vera Skin Lotion and Yoko Acne-Melasma Cream CO Enzyme Q-10.

FDA Advisory 2016-094, also issued on August 22, banned the following unnotified cosmetics: A’s Skin Natural Beauty Lanolin Cream with Vitamin E, De Monto Lanolin Cream with Vitamin E & Collagen, Flowerone Elastic Whitening Tender Cream, Nacos Natural Australian Lanolin Cream with Vitamin E & Collagen, , Pearl Whiten Beautiful,  Queen Pientzehuang Pearl Cream, Ronglaiya Professional Pure Golden, RLY Homme Men’s Repairing Eke Water, Xinfunmanlingshuang Anti-Acne and Renewal Cream, Fengshangmei New Nail Kit, Miss Seven Cracking Nail Art Kit, Mei Ja Er Child Boutique Fake Nails Kit and Nail Glue WD.  

FDA Advisory 2016-093, also issued on August 22, banned Jiachuntang Ban Gan Jing Qu Ban Shuang, an unnotified cosmetic product found to contain toxic mercury level.

FDA Advisory 2016-076, issued on July 12, banned the following unnotified cosmetics: Delon Aloe Vera Skin Care Lotion, Delon Baby Lotion, Delon Silk and Satin Whipped Lotion, Keri Bath Botanicals Sensitive Skin and Shinzu’I Skin Lightening Body Lotion UV Protection Iseiya.  

FDA Advisory 2016-075, issued on July 11, banned the following unnotified cosmetics: Active Care Green Tea Deep Shine Baien Beautiful Inimitable (dark coffee, golden red and plum red), Bellespa Lip Gloss + Lip Liner Pencil, Chanleevi Mascara Fantastic Volume, Charm 3D Jialiqi Cosmetics Length Fiber Extensions Mascara, Jialiqi Art Class Liquid Eyeliner, Jialiqi Volume Mascara Ultra Resistance Luxurious Eye Make-Up Dense, Kangtian 60 Soft Cel Capsules (green, pink and yellow), Meiya Selection BB Cream Whitening + Sun Block SPF25 Vitamin E,  Nutrition Hair Oil (Fruits with Snake Oil), Tri & 1 Professional Hair Colour (H815 Coffee), Signature Collection Body Luxuries Enjoy Life Body Lotion and Signature Collection Body Luxuries Silk Glow Body Lotion.

The manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, sale, offer for sale, transportation, promotion and/or advertisement of the above non-compliant products is in direct violation of R.A. 9711, the Food and Drug Administration Act.



28 August 2016

Watch Group Warns: Toxic Toy Ruler-Wrist Band Sold for P5 Outside Schools

A watch group for toxic chemicals today cautioned parents and students against buying a cheap toy commonly sold outside public elementary schools that contains high concentrations of lead, a hazardous substance.

The EcoWaste Coalition aired the warning after finding dangerous amount of lead in a toy ruler with Ninja Turtle characters.  The ruler also doubles as a wrist band and comes with a crayon eraser.  It is sold for P5 per packet.  The product provides no information about its manufacturer, importer or distributor.

The toy ruler-wrist band was found to contain 47,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead as per X-Ray Fluorescence screening conducted by the group.  No lead was detected on the crayon eraser.

“As a precaution against potential lead exposure, we advise parents not to allow their children to buy and use this toxic ruler that also functions as a wrist band,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The product is made of a flexible metal sheet that is covered with a thin colored plastic wrapper with Ninja Turtle design.

Product examination shows that the metal sheet --- a recycled roll-up tape measure --- is coated with a yellow paint, which apparently contains lead above the regulatory restriction for lead in paint.

DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, also known  as the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, sets a maximum allowable limit of 90 parts per million for total lead in paint.

The same regulation prohibits the use of lead in the production of toys as well as school supplies.

“Sooner or later, the plastic wrap will get torn with frequent use exposing the lead-coated metal strip,” Dizon warned.

“Lead can enter a child’s body through the ingestion or inhalation of lead-containing paint chip and dust,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization, “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and, in some cases, irreversible neurological damage.”

The potential for adverse effects of lead exposure is greater for children than for adults, because in children 1) the intake of lead per unit body weight is higher, 2) more dust may be ingested, 3) lead absorption in the gastrointestinal tract is higher, 4) the blood–brain barrier is not yet fully developed and 5) neurological effects occur at lower levels than in adults, the WHO said.

Primary prevention, or the elimination of exposure to lead at its source, is the single most effective intervention against childhood lead poisoning,  the WHO further said.

Among other preventive measures, WHO has recommended the phase out the use of lead in paints on a worldwide basis, and the elimination of the use of lead in homes, schools, school materials and children’s toys.




26 August 2016

McDonald’s Voluntary Product Recall Gets Thumbs Up from Toxics Watch Group

EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group tracking toxic chemicals in products and wastes, lauded fast food giant McDonald’s Philippines for voluntarily recalling promotional back packs, sling bags and bag tags that contain lead, a hazardous substance.

The voluntary recall will be conducted starting today August 26 until October 24, 2016 by suppliers MZM Souvenirs and F Colors with McDonald’s full support and cooperation as announced by Golden Arches Development Corp., the master franchise holder of McDonald’s restaurants in the Philippines.  

The recall was the outcome of the EcoWaste Coalition’s chemical investigation showing lead in the accessible substrate material of the black back pack as it reported to McDonald’s Philippines and US last August 8.

Upon receipt of the group’s notification, McDonald’s immediately contacted the bag supplier, MZM Souvenirs, to halt production while also stopping the distribution of the said bags as giveaway items.

The group’s investigation also prompted the company to test other promotional products resulting to the subsequent expansion of the recall to include McDonald’s red sling bags and red bag tags supplied by F Colors. These items are no longer available in McDonald’s stores.

“McDonald’s made the right decision to promptly retrieve the lead-containing bags and tags as this is necessary for children’s health and well-being.  We commend them for the measures undertaken to notify the public and ensure the rapid retrieval of the recalled products for environmentally-sound disposal without incineration,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Margot Torres, Deputy Managing Director of McDonald’s Philippines, has thanked EcoWaste Coalition for approaching the company with its concerns. ”Nothing matters more to us than the safety of our customers. We have reinforced to our local supplier partners that there must be absolute adherence to the high standards of safety that we uphold at McDonald’s,” Torres said. “These recalled items have not met that standard.”

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused, and we strongly encourage our customers to immediately return the bags and bag tag, so we can have them replaced or refunded,” Torres added.

As per McDonald’s advisory, customers may opt to receive a new bag of a different material or ask for a refund upon return of the bags.  As for the bag tag, customers will receive a refund.  As a gesture of goodwill, all customers who return any of the bags and/or the bag tag will also receive a free food item and a birthday party discount coupon.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier alerted McDonald’s that the black back packs failed the maximum lead limit of 100 parts per million (ppm) for lead in accessible substrate materials as established by the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24 (also known as the “Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds) also prohibits the use of lead in the production of toys and school supplies, among other things.

Last August 19, the EcoWaste Coalition and McDonald’s had a constructive meeting to discuss the group’s concerns and the recall strategy for the affected items.



For more information about lead, please see:


21 August 2016

LGUs Exhorted to Go After Stores Selling Cyanide-Containing Silver Jewelry Cleaners

 FDA-banned cyanide-containing silver cleaning products.
Banned Silver Sparkle Flat Silver Dip. 
 Store attendant prepares receipt for banned Unisilver Silver Dip.
 Unisilver Silver Dip comes free for every P500 worth of purchase in single receipt.
Totally unlabelled silver jewelry cleaner.
Partially labelled silver jewelry cleaner.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watch group, urged  mayors and local health and police chiefs to crack down on vendors of silver jewelry cleaners containing the deadly cyanide compound.

The group’s plea for action came on the heels of a recent public health warning from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) against three brands of cyanide-laden silver cleaning products.

The FDA on August 16 warned the public against buying, using and storing Silver Sparkle Flat Silver Dip, Unisilver Silver Dip and Cleanse Silver (Copper) Cleaner “as these pose imminent hazards and danger to both human and animal health” due their cyanide content.

“All local government units and law enforcement agencies are requested to ensure that the above-mentioned brands are not sold or made available in their localities or areas of jurisdiction,” the FDA Advisory 2016-088 said.

“We ask our local government, health and police officials to heed FDA’s request and promptly launch joint law enforcement operations to rid the marketplace of cyanide-laced silver cleaning solutions,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Any delay in responding to the FDA’s request will mean more consumers having access to this poison that had already fatally harmed many people, including innocent children who mistook the clear liquid for drinking water,” he added.

Yesterday, August 20, the  EcoWaste Coalition went to the same silver jewelry shops in a shopping mall in Quiapo, Manila where the FDA got the said silver cleaning products and managed to buy  Silver Sparkle Flat Silver Dip for P55 and Unisilver Silver Dip for P69.  The latter is even offered free of charge for every P500 worth of purchase in single receipt.

In addition, the group also bought a totally unlabelled silver cleaner for P60 from a beads and accessories store in Villalobos St.   It also obtained a partially labeled silver cleaner for P80 from a silver jewelry store in Carriedo St.

“We request Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to go after the stores selling these highly toxic products and revoke their business permit outright to show that he means business when it comes to protecting the public health and safety from cyanide poisoning,” Dizon said. 

According to the FDA, “cyanide is classified as poisonous which can be rapidly absorbed by the body through inhalation, ingestion and dermal absorption.”

“It blocks utilization of oxygen in all organs and (is) liable to cause serious injury to human health that may lead to acute poisoning or death,” explained the FDA.

Responding to the rising number of cyanide poisoning cases due to the accidental as well as deliberate intake of silver cleaning products, the government issued Joint DOH-DENR Advisory 2010-0001 banning the sale of silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances.



19 August 2016

Environmental Groups Urge QC to Junk Multi-Billion Peso Incinerator Project

As the Quezon City Day is celebrated today, various environmental groups asked Mayor Herbert Bautista to drop a planned joint venture with a Japanese company for a “waste-to-energy “ (WtE) facility.

The groups also urged residents to raise their objections to the City Council through their elected councilors to thwart the plan that could turn QC into the “waste incineration capital” of Metro Manila.

As published in the Nikkei Asian Review last Tuesday, Hitachi Zosen will construct in Quezon City “a garbage incineration facility capable of processing the waste of three million residents with a power plant able to pump out more than 20,000 kW.”

The project’s estimated cost of around US$395 million (or P18.17 billion), including initial investment outlay and operational expenses for 20 years, will be regained through waste processing charges and electricity sales, according to the article.

“We urge the QC local government not to go for this costly waste incineration scheme, which the industry has re-branded, cashing in on of concerns over climate change, as a WtE facility.  There are far superior environmentally-sound, sustainable and cheaper solutions for managing discards that will not circumvent the ban on burning waste, while recovering resources, saving energy, creating jobs and instilling ecological values among businesses and households,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

These solutions are enshrined in Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which provides for waste avoidance and volume reduction through segregation at source, composting, recycling, reuse and other measures excluding incineration, she said.

“The construction of this incinerator might be even used to justify the continued dumping operations in Payatas since a landfill will still be required for the toxic ash resulting from the combustion of discards,” said Joey Papa, President of Bangon Kalikasan Movement, noting that some 30 tons of ash are produced for every 100 tons burned. “To be blunt about it, WtE is a technology Without Thinking of Everybody’s safety and public health at large,” he added.

“Incineration, euphemistically referred to as WtE technology, is not the answer to our need for energy.  It emits toxic dioxins and furans and burns resources, which can otherwise be recycled or composted.  It promotes the generation of waste because the combustion chamber must be constantly fed with waste.  It is the most expensive energy source according to some experts,” said Dr. Angelina Galang, President, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy.

“We stand by our position that 'waste-to-energy' and 'integrated waste management systems' are just fancy names for incinerators, and not at all clean, renewable or healthy. Incinerators go against the principle of sustainability. Their toxic emissions can never be controlled once released to the environment, therefore lethal to humans and damaging to the ecology,” said Abigail Aguiilar, Detox Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The P18.17 billion that will be needed to build and operate the incinerator should be used instead to improve and expand QC’s existing waste prevention and reduction programs, including ensuring the proper closure and rehabilitation of the Payatas dumpsite, the groups insisted.

“For example, 11,647 barangay waste workers will be paid a minimum salary of 12,000 per month for 10 years, plus the annual 13th month pay, to collect segregated wastes from households, sell recyclables to junkshops and compost the organics. This in turn would allow Quezon City to achieve at least 70 percent waste diversion or more,” said Froilan Grate, Asia-Pacific Coordinator, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

To illustrate the other alternative uses for the colossal amount of P18.17 billion to be spent for the QC incinerator, the groups have come up with the following calculations: 

1. 1,817,000 whole-day training activities on ecological solid waste management involving 90,850,000 people at P10,000/50-person activity covering meals, hand-outs, speakers’ honoraria and other basic incidental expenses.

2.  1,817,000 to 3,634,000 Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) at P5,000 – P10,000/facility for rural barangays, and 36,340 to 363,400 MRFs at P50,000 – 500,000/facility for urban barangays;  MRFs serve as depositories for segregated discards that can be reused, recycled or composted to minimize the volume of trash sent to a residual waste landfill.

3.  40,378 biodegradables shredder (7 Hp, 1.5 tons/hour) costing P450,000/machine to cut up garden or farm waste and other organics into small pieces to speed up the composting process.

4.  5,191,429 generic sewing machines at P3,500/unit that community women can use to make reusable bags from fabrics, doy packs, flour and rice sacks and other materials.

5.  2,795,385 pedicabs at P6,500/unit or 5,191,428 wooden carts at P3,500 /cart that itinerant waste recyclers can use for “bote-dyaryo” business.

6.  121,133 junk shops that will ideally need a start-up capital of P150,000.

7.  3,634,000 low-interest loans at P5,000/person that will enable waste pickers to venture into micro-enterprises to augment their incomes.


18 August 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Industry to Voluntarily Remove Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care and Cosmetic Products

 From the "Beat the Microbead," 5 Gyres Institute PSA
From the Alliance for the Great Lakes

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watch group, challenged manufacturers of personal care and cosmetic products (PCCPs) to voluntarily terminate their use of plastic microbeads for the fishes’ sake.

The group specifically asked companies using polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate  polymethyly methacrylate, nylon and other plastic materials as microbeads in PCCPs to opt for non-polluting alternatives instead.

“As part of their corporate social and environmental responsibility, we urge manufacturers to switch to naturally biodegradable substitutes to plastic microbeads as scrubbing components in PCCPs such as facial cleansers,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We need to stop polluting our rivers and seas in the name of ‘personal care’ with these microplastics that can suck up toxic chemicals, which are then pass into the fish who mistake them for food,” he said.

The appeal came on the heels of a newly-released study showing “evidence that plastic microbeads from personal care products are capable of transferring absorbed pollutants to fish that ingest them.”

The study, conducted by scientists from RMIT University in Australia and the Hainan University in China and published in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal, showed that up to 12.5 percent of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on microbeads from facial cleansers were assimilated by fish following particle ingestion.

In the controlled laboratory experiment, the researchers fed rainbow fish from Murray River, Australia’s longer river, with microbeads from facial cleansers that were spiked with PBDEs.

PBDEs, which are used as flame retardant chemicals in foam and plastic products including electronics, are known endocrine disruptors with studies in animals indicating that these chemicals can disrupt thyroid hormone balance and lead to reduced learning capacity, hyperactive behavior and other neurological and developmental  problems.

"We know generally that if someone eats a fish, they risk eating any pollution that may be in the fish," stated Dr. Bradley Clarke, lead investigator and environmental scientist at RMIT University, who said that “microbeads should never have been in products in the first place.”

"We shouldn't have to wait one or two years for these products to be banned, because in that time, billions more microbeads will be released into the environment. It would be nice to see an immediate ban, and the companies investing money into remediation costs,” she said.

To assist consumers in choosing products without microplastics, the EcoWaste Coalition asked cosmetics companies to declare that their products are 100 percent free of plastic microbeads and other plastic ingredients that have replaced natural options.

The group cited the “Plastics in Cosmetics” fact sheet published by the United Nations Environment Programme stating that “plastic ingredients in PCCPs that are poured down the drain after use, cannot be collected for recycling (unlike the packaging, which can be recycled).”

“The plastic ingredients do not decompose in wastewater treatment systems, which can be lacking in large parts of the world. The ingredients are emitted via raw sewage, treated effluents or with sewage sludge applied as fertilizer (biosolids) on agricultural land, landfilled or dumped at sea,” UNEP said.

“Given the associated potential risks of microplastics, a precautionary approach is recommended toward microplastic management, with the eventual phase-out and ban in PCCPs,” it said.

To address the problem with microplastics in PCCPs, UNEP suggested  that producers take the potential impact of product ingredients on the natural environment into account during the design phase and eliminate use of microplastics, and that consumers should avoid buying products that contain such microplastics.

UNEP also recommended that governments should promote the phase-out of microplastics in PCCPs, while underscoring the need for further research to better understand the implications of nano- and micro-sized plastics in PCCPs on human and marine ecosystem health, especially through ingestion and chemical transfer through the food chain.





12 August 2016

Watch Group Lauds Cosmetics Maker’s Shift to Paraben and Plastic Microbeads-Free Products

A non-profit watch group promoting consumer and environmental health commended a cosmetics manufacturer for offering products that are free of parabens and plastic microbeads.

The EcoWaste Coalition lauded Intelligent Skin Care Inc. (ISCI), maker of the Belo Essentials product line, for taking steps to remove parabens, which are potential endocrine disrupting chemicals due to their ability to imitate estrogen, as well as ocean-polluting plastic microbeads, from their products.

At a dialogue held yesterday between the EcoWaste Coalition and ISCI representatives led by general manager Robby Sicam, the company confirmed that materials used in their cosmetics formulations do not contain isobutyl paraben and four other types of paraben banned under the European Union and ASEAN Cosmetics Directives.

“Belo Essentials Body Bar and Lotion do not contain isobutyl paraben since 2009 as can be verified from the certificates of analysis provided by our supplier Eurochemicals. This was even before the government advised manufacturers to remove such ingredient by the end of 2015,” stated Sicam.

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) through Circular 2015-008 banned isobutyl paraben as well as benzyl, isopropyl, pentyl and pheny parabens and gave manufacturers until December 31, 2015 to reformulate and initiate product phase-outs and recalls.

Furthermore, ISCI told the group that they have altogether removed permissible parabens in their cosmetics such as butyl, ethyl, methy and propyl parabens making their full range of products paraben-free.

“We are satisfied with the explanation given by ISCI regarding the outdated ingredient information on the product packs and recognized their ongoing effort to correct it,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier disclosed that some Belo Essentials products contain the banned isobutyl paraben as indicated on the ingredient list. 

As agreed upon with the FDA, the ISCI has embarked on an action plan to end in August 2016 involving the “re-stickering” of product packs to correct the ingredient information. 

To the delight of the EcoWaste Coalition, the ISCI also confirmed at the meeting that Belo Essentials have also already eliminated the use of plastic microbeads.

In January this year, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Congress to enact a law that will forbid the manufacture of facial wash, shampoo, toothpaste and other personal care products containing plastic microbeads, which can pollute the oceans, harm marine life and threaten public health.

This was after US President Barack Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act on December 28 last year phasing out cosmetics with added plastic microbeads, including those made from “biodegradable” plastics, by July 1, 2017 and banning the sale of such products by July 1, 2018.

Plastic microbeads in personal care products go straight to the drainage system and into water bodies and subsequently polluting the oceans with minuscule, non-biodegradable particles that are then eaten by aquatic organisms who mistake them for eggs or plankton, lamented the EcoWaste Coalition.

According to the International Campaign against Microbeads in Cosmetics, “the microbeads used in personal care products are mainly made of polyethylene (PE), but can also be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyly methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon.”

As part of their ongoing advocacy to protect human health and the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition is exhorting all cosmetics makers to go paraben-free and plastic microbeads-free.


ISCI’s full statement can be viewed here:

08 August 2016

DoE Urged to Put to Use US$1.37 Million Recycling Equipment for Mercury Lamp Waste

JANUARY 2016: Mercury-containing lamp waste abandoned on the sidewalk of Pablo Ocampo Sr. Avenue Extension, Barangay La Paz, Makati City.

A non-profit group advocating for the safe management of busted or spent fluorescent lamps containing toxic mercury today urged the Department of Energy to put to use a costly recycling equipment that is just gathering dust in Taguig City.

Through a letter sent to Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the EcoWaste Coalition pressed for the operationalization of the Lamp Waste Management Facility (LWMF) with mercury recovery that the DoE purchased in 2013 from MRT System International, a Swedish company, for US$1.37 million, inclusive of taxes and customs duties.   

The facility is a component of the DoE-led Philippine Energy Efficiency Project supported by a loan from the Asian Development Bank.

“We hope that your office is one with us in recognizing the urgent need for the government  to operationalize the LWMF and implement a practical system for the safe recycling of lamp waste to minimize mercury pollution due to the improper disposal of fluorescent lamps at the end of their useful life,” wrote Noli Abinales, President, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Under your watch, we hope that the DoE will be successful in getting a qualified operator to run the LWMF at the soonest time possible,” he added.

“The prolonged non-operation of the facility can take its toll on the multi-million peso equipment, while spent lamps continue to be arbitrarily disposed of like ordinary trash, contaminating human bodies and the environment with toxic mercury,” he pointed out.

The DOE operated the facility, located at Bagumbayan, Taguig City, during the pilot phase.  

As described by the DOE, the LWMF is “a facility where all spent mercury-containing lamps shall undergo recycling to recover mercury and other by-products (to) avert residual mercury from entering the food chain through landfill leaching into ground water.”

When the group visited the LWMF in September 2014, they were told that the facility should be up and running by December 2014.

“We are now more than half-way to 2017 and we still see no functional facility that will safely receive and recycle our mercury-containing lamp waste,” said Abinales.

In March 2014, the EcoWaste Coalition released a photo investigative report entitled “The Toxic Silence of the Lamps,” which documents the haphazard disposal of mercury-containing lamp waste in Metro Manila’s 17 local government units.    

The report can be downloaded here: https://sites.google.com/site/ thetoxicsilenceofthelamps/

According to the report, “the indiscriminate disposal of busted or spent fluorescent lamps as common trash is not only polluting the surroundings, but is also exposing waste handlers, informal recyclers and the public to mercury, a potent neurotoxin, which can lead to acute and chronic intoxication even at low  levels of exposure.”

In the same letter, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the office of Secretary Cusi to issue a Certificate of Concurrence to the government’s ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and to transmit the same to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). 

Signed by former DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje in October 2013 at a diplomatic conference in Japan, the Minamata Convention seeks to protect human health and the environment by reducing mercury supply and trade, phasing out or phasing down mercury-containing products and by controlling mercury emissions and releases.

Article 4 of the Minamata Convention provides for the phase-out by 2020 of certain products of interest to the DOE, specifically,  compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) equal to or less than 30 watts containing more than 5 mg mercury per bulb, linear fluorescent bulbs - triband lamps less than 60 watts and containing greater than 5 mg, mercury, halophosphate lamps less than 40 watts and containing greater than 10 mg mercury, high pressure mercury vapor lamps, mercury in a variety of cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) and external electrode fluorescent lamps (EEFL).

The Philippines has yet to ratify the Minamata Convention.

- end-

For more information about the mercury treaty, please visit http://www.mercuryconvention.o rg/

05 August 2016

Watch Group Tells Cosmetics Company to Take Recalled Lotion and Soap Off Store Shelves (Please see follow-up press release here: http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com/2016/08/watch-group-lauds-cosmetics-makers.html)

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group promoting consumer and environmental health, today urged the Intelligent Skin Care Inc. to remove from the market certain items from the Belo Essentials product line that contain isobutyl paraben, a banned ingredient.

The request came on the heels of the group’s market surveillance conducted from August 1 to 3, 2016 to determine the availability of Belo Essentials products that were recalled by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) due to their isobutyl paraben content.  The company should have recalled the products on or before 31 July 2016 as agreed upon with the FDA.
In a report sent to the Center for Cosmetics Regulation and Research on August 4, the group notified the FDA about the continued sale of Belo Essentials products with isolbutyl paraben as listed ingredient in 29 branches of 17 leading retail establishments in 10 Metro Manila cities, including Caloocan, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, San Juan and Taguig Cities. The group provided the FDA with photos to support their claims.

These include Belo Essentials Whitening Lotion with SPF 30 (white container), Belo Essentials Whitening Lotion with SPF 30 (off-white container; with sub-text “complete defense from UVA and UVB rays”),  Belo Essentials Whitening Lotion with Skin Vitamins (with sub-text “lavishes skin with long lasting moisture”), Belo Essentials Moisturizing Whitening Body Bar with Nourishing Skin Vitamins (white and light blue box), Belo Essentials Moisturizing Whitening Body Bar with Nourishing Skin Vitamins (pink and blue box), and Belo Essentials Smoothening Whitening Body Bar with Exfoliating Microbeads (pink box).

“If these products are still available in leading retail establishments in Metro Manila, we presume that the same products are still being offered for sale in other parts of the country.  Some of the recalled products are also being sold online,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We therefore urge the company to review the effectiveness of their recall strategy and to comply with the FDA’s product recall order without delay,” he said.

“Retail establishments should remove the recalled products off the shelves and have them returned to the company for environmentally-sound disposal,” he added.  

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that it has also found a “paraben-free” Belo Essentials Moisturizing Whitening Body Bar with Nourishing Skin Vitamins (pink and blue box) during their market surveillance, indicating the company’s capacity to remove not only the banned isobutyl paraben but also the other types of permitted parabens from the product formulation.

Last 20 April 2016, the  FDA issued Advisory No. 2016-032 reiterating the ban on  isobutyly paraben and four other types of paraben in line with the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, which has added in November 2014 the five parabens in the “list of substances which must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products.”  The FDA had given the cosmetics industry a grace period to comply that ended on 31 December 2015.

According to the FDA, “cosmetic products found to contain any of the five identified banned ingredients pose potential health risk to the consuming public and therefore, shall not be allowed to be placed or to remain in the Philippine market starting 1 January 2016.”

Parabens have been identified as endocrine disrupting chemicals based on evidence that they interfere and mimic hormones, particularly estrogen, which is the primary female sex hormone, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Studies have associated parabens in breast cancer, tumors of the uterus, abnormal development of the testes, infertility and other reproductive health problems, the group noted.


http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisori es-2/cosmetic-2/328036-fda-adv isory-no-2016-032

Additional Information:
List of retail establishments where Belo Essentials products with banned isobutyl paraben are still on sale as of 3 August 2016:
1.  All Day Supermarket (Star Mall, Mandaluyong City; Vista Mall, Taguig City)
2.  Cherry Foodarama (Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City)
3.  Ever Supermarket (Quezon Ave., Quezon City)
4.  Fisher Supermarket (Fisher Mall, Quezon Ave., Quezon City)
5.  Isetann Department Store (Carriedo St., Quiapo, Manila; Recto Ave., Quiapo, Manila)
6.  Isetann Supermarket (Recto Ave., Quiapo, Manila)
7.  Puregold Supermarket (J.P. Rizal Ave., Makati City; Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City)
8.  Robinsons Department Store (Star Mall Alabang, Muntinlupa City)
9.  Robinsons Supermarket (Victory Mall, Caloocan City; Star Mall Alabang, Muntinlupa City; Robinsons Metro East, Pasig City)
10.  Rustan’s Supermarket (EDSA Shangrila Plaza,Mandaluyong City)
11.  Savemore Supermarket (Empire Center, EDSA, Pasay City)
12.  Shopwise Supermarket (Vito Cruz Extension, Makati City)
13.  SM Supermarket (SM City San Lazaro, Manila)
14.  Unimart (Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan City)
15.  Watsons (SM Department Store, Quiapo, Manila; Star Mall Alabang, Muntinlupa; Farmers’ Plaza, Quezon City)
16.  Wellcome Supermarket (Star Mall Alabang, Muntinlupa; Metro Point Mall, Pasay City; Farmers’ Plaza, Quezon City)
17.  Mercury Drug (J.P. Rizal Ave., Makati City; Star Mall Alabang, Muntinlupa City; Metro Point Mall, Pasay City; Greenhills Shoppesville, San Juan City)

01 August 2016

Watchdog Pushes Paint Companies to Speed Up Phase-Out of Leaded Decorative Paints (“The clock is ticking for the phase-out of leaded decorative paints”)

“The clock is ticking.”

As the phase-out of lead-containing paints used for architectural, decorative and household (ADH) applications looms, the EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on chemicals and wastes, reminded concerned manufacturers to hasten their shift to non-lead paint production.

By virtue of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, paint manufacturers have until December 31, 2016 to phase out lead in ADH paints.

“By January 1, 2017, lead-containing ADH paints will no longer be allowed in the marketplace.  That’s just 22 weeks away.  The clock is ticking,” said Noli Abinales, President, EcoWaste  Coalition. 

ADH paints are typically used to decorate residential houses, school buildings, day care centers and playgrounds, as well as child-oriented products such as toys, school supplies and kiddie furniture like baby cribs, study desks and tables.

“We are confident that most companies are seriously hurrying through their paint reformulations not only to comply with the law, but more so to make available safer paint products that will not result to lead exposure hazard to vulnerable groups such as  young children, pregnant women and the workers,” he noted.

“We recognize the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) for its indispensable role in promoting industry-wide support for the said policy, which prohibits lead levels in paint above 90 parts per million (ppm),” he added.

Abinales recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition in May-June 2015 received formal pledges from some paint companies confirming their commitment to comply with the lead paint phase-out policy, including the Andalucia Manufacturing Corp., FH Colors and Coatings Corp., Globesco Inc., H-Chem Industries, Inc., Super Globe, Inc., Times Paint Corp. and Treasure Island Industrial Corp.  The said companies, except for Andalucia, are members of the PAPM.

Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. and Davies Philippines, the country’s top two paint makers, have already removed lead compounds commonly used as driers or pigments in paint products ahead of the issuance of DENR A.O. 2013-24.

Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. and Davies Philippines, Inc. have also successfully secured Lead Safe Paint® Certification from SCS Global Services, a US-based third party certifying body, for their Boysen, Nation, Titan and Virtuoso brands, and Davies brand, respectively.

Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Gilbert Gonzales  had earlier lauded the two paint makers, expressing his hope that their successful shift to lead-free paint manufacturing would “increase  customers’ confidence, expand business transactions, allow uniform labeling, and, most of all, protect our children.”

“It makes sense for companies who have yet to finish their shift to non-lead raw materials to switch to panic mode,” Abinales suggested.

“We hope that not a single company will be left out in the cold as the whole country celebrates the historic phase-out of leaded ADH paints few months from now,” he added.

In the second quarter of 2017, the EcoWaste Coalition will conduct yet another paint study to determine industrial compliance to the phase-out of leaded ADH paints as stipulated in DENR A.O. 2013-24.

The group will release a report afterwards that will publicly name compliant and non-compliant ADH paint products.

According to the DENR A.O. 2013-24, “any violation of the requirements specified in this Order shall subject the person(s) liable thereof to the applicable administrative and criminal sanctions as provided for under Sections 41 and 43 of DAO 1992-29 and DENR Memorandum Order No. 2005-003 (Prescribing Graduated Administrative Fines Pursuant to Republic Act No. 6969 and DAO 1992-29).”

The EcoWaste Coalition will continue to assist the government in monitoring compliance to the said policy in order to prevent childhood lead exposure via the ingestion or inhalation of lead contaminated dust or soil from lead-based paint and other sources.

According to the policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Environmental Health last June 2016, “lead toxicity results in substantial, population-level effects on children’s intellectual abilities, academic abilities, problem behaviors, and birth weight. “

“No effective treatments ameliorate the permanent developmental effects of lead toxicity. Reducing lead exposure from residential lead hazards, industrial sources, contaminated foods or water, and other consumer products is an effective way to prevent or control childhood lead exposure,” the AAP said.