12 July 2017

Drive for “Healthy Baon for Healthy Kids” Gains Ground in QC School (“Healthy Baon” contributes to waste reduction too, says group)

To commemorate this year’s Nutrition Month, an environmental watch group has teamed up with a public school to campaign for nutritious and waste-free snacks and lunches.

Through a joint activity held today, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Sto. Cristo Elementary School (Quezon City) promoted healthy meals that can help students go, grow and glow without denting the family budget.

With a banner that says "Nutritious Food, Healthy Kids, Zero Waste School" as backdrop, teachers and environmentalists drew attention to nourishing food and beverage choices in line with a recently-issued policy by the Department of Education (DepEd).

“Healthy diets at home and school will help our nation in curbing the number of overweight and obese among kids and adults, as well as preventing non-communicable diseases.  It will also help in reducing the volume of garbage knowing that unhealthy foods are mostly packaged in plastic and other single-use materials, which are hardly recycled or reused,” stated Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our activity, we hope, will encourage schools to regulate the sale of foods and drinks in school canteens, while encouraging parents and their kids to go for healthy and waste-free baon that are low in fat, sugar or salt,” he added.

The group said that five percent of Filipino children (aged five to 10) and 31 percent of adults (aged 20 and above) are overweight and obese, while the national waste generation is estimated at 40,087 tons per day as per data from the Food Nutrition and Research Institute and the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

To hammer home their advocacy for healthy diets, SCES teachers prepared brown rice-based baon ideas such as pancakes, spring rolls, champorado bar, croquetas, spaghetti, and vegetable-rich viands such as malunggay-veggie mix, malunggay veggie patties, pinakbet, and dilis and kangkong embutido.   

Kitchen discards such as vegetable and fruit peelings were then brought to the school’s composting pit.

Also, the event saw students reciting the “10 Kumainments,” the popular version of the revised Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF).

According to the National Nutrition Council, “a healthy diet is able to satisfy one’s energy and nutrient needs for proper body functions, growth and development, daily activities and maintenance of health, keeping well within one’s caloric needs.”

On the other hand, “an unhealthy diet is composed of foods that are energy-dense yet nutrient poor and are high in saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates or sodium,” stated the NCC, the lead organizer for the Nutrition Month.  

DepEd Department Order No. 13, Series of 2017 provides for the “Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverage Choices in Schools and in DepEd Offices” by making available healthy, nutritious and affordable menu choices, and for setting food standards.

It identifies healthier food and beverage choices and introduces a system of categorizing locally available foods and drinks in green, yellow and red categories.

Items included in the green category should always be available in school canteens; those in the yellow category should be served carefully; and those in the red cateogry are not recommended in canteen menu.

Foods and drinks in the green category include unsweetened milk, safe and clean water, fresh buko water, rice, corn, whole wheat bread, cassava, boiled sweet potato, boiled saba, boiled peanuts, suman, puto, fishes, shellfish, small shrimps, lean meats, chicken without skin, nuts, eggs and fresh fruits in season.

Foods and drinks in the yellow category include 100% fresh fruit juices, fried rice, bread, biscuits, banana cue, camote cue, turon, maruya, pancakes, waffles, champorado, pancit, arroz caldo, sandwiches, processed foods (subject to evaluation of saturated or trans fat and sodium content), stir-fried vegetables       

Foods and drinks in the red category include soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, sports waters, sports drinks, flavored mineral water, energy drinks, sweetened waters, powdered juice drinks, any products containing caffeine, any processed fruit/vegetable juice with added sugar of more than 20 grams or 4 teaspoons per serving, any jelly, ice crushes and slushies, any ice cream, ice drops and ice candies, cakes and slices, donuts, sweet biscuits and pastries, chocolates, hard/chewy candies, chewing gums, marshmallows, lollipops, yema, French fries, bicho-bicho, instant noodles, all types of heavily salted snacks such as chips or chichiria, chicharon, chicken skin, bacon, deep-friend foods including fish balls and kikiams, canned fruits in heavy syrup, sweetened fruits, deep-fried vegetables.



03 July 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Filipinos to Break the Plastic Bag Habit

As the International Plastic Bag Free Day is observed today, a waste and pollution watch group asked Filipinos from all walks of life to kick the plastic bag habit for a trash-free land and marine environment.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the global “Break Free from Plastic” movement, directed its appeal for action against the omnipresent plastic bags to consumers, commercial establishments, schools, local governments and the national legislature.

“Plastic waste prevention and the genuine enforcement of best practices in ecological solid waste management sans incineration and open burning is the way to go to tackle the plastic scourge that has now become a global malady,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We can reduce the amount of plastic garbage dumped into the oceans by taking decisive measures at various levels from voluntary lifestyle option as responsible consumers to mandatory legislation banning single-use plastic bags,” he added.

Consumers should bring bayong and other reusable bags for their purchases to reduce the volume of plastics burned in dumpsites or thrown in waterways eventually ending up and polluting our rivers and seas, the group suggested.

Commercial establishments like shopping centers should initiate mall-wide programs to encourage retail shops, restaurants and other tenants to offer incentives for customers who will bring their own reusable containers and halt the practice of handing out free plastic or paper bags, according to the group. 

The group added that public and private schools should restrict the use of plastic bags, as well as other non-essential plastic products such as drinking straws, inside the school premises.

Local government units (LGUs) with existing plastic bag bans should strengthen the implementation of existing regulations, while those lagging behind should quickly adopt effective ordinances, the group pointed out.

“It’s high time for Congress to enact a comprehensive legislation that will ban single-use plastic bags to expand and support the initiatives of the local authorities to deal with the plastic mess,” Alejandre said.

All LGUs also need to fully enforce the waste prevention and reduction provisions of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resouces and the National Solid Waste Management Commission should take the lead in implementing policies and programs in support of UNEA Resolution 2/11, the group further said.

UNEA, or the United Nations Environmental Assembly, in 2016 adopted a resolution on marine plastic litter and microplastics “stressing that prevention and environmentally sound management of waste is key to long-term success in combating marine pollution” and “calling on member states to establish and implement necessary policies, regulatory frameworks and measures consistent with the waste hierarchy.”

Waste audits conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace and Mother Earth Foundation in Manila Bay indicated alarming quantities of plastic litter, particularly in the famed Manila Bay.

In July 2016, for instance, a waste audit conducted by EcoWaste Coalition’s partner groups at Freedom Island in ParaƱaque City collected 1,482 kilos of trash, 79 percent of which were assorted plastic materials,  consisting of junk food wrappers and sachets (20 percent), plastic bags (17 percent), composite packaging (12 percent), food packaging (9 percent), polystyrene containers (7 percent), diaper liners (7 percent), hard plastics (4 percent), drinking straw 1 (percent) and plastic twine (1 percent).


https://www.plasticbagfreeday. org/
https://www.informea.org/en/de cision/marine-plastic-litter- and-microplastics#decision- body-field

01 July 2017

Group Pushes for Phase-Out of Triclosan and Triclocarban in Personal Care and Cosmetic Products

After calling on consumers to skip soaps and washes containing triclosan and triclocarban, a watch group on harmful chemicals is now training its gun on manufacturers of personal care and cosmetic products (PCCPs) that are still using these antibacterial substances.

“We call upon the manufacturers of PCCPs to cease from using triclosan and triclocarban in product formulations after scientists reached a consensus that these substances are environmentally persistent endocrine disrupting chemicals that bioaccumulate in and are toxic to marine organisms,” said Rene Pineda,  Representative, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“We likewise exhort our policy makers not to miss the writing on the wall and take precautionary action now to safeguard the public health, especially the health of pregnant women, developing fetuses and breastfeeding babies.  It is our common responsibility to prevent further human and environmental exposures to triclosan and triclocarban,” he added.

The group had earlier urged consumers through a press briefing with visiting expert Dr. Ann Blake last May 30 to shun soap and wash products with triclosan and triclocarban ahead of the US-wide ban on such products beginning September 6, 2017.  

Triclosan and triclocarban are among the 19 antibacterials being banned by the US Food and Drug Administration “because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.”

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the historic statement by over 200 scientists and medical professionals  published in the June 20 issue of the Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), a monthly peer-reviewed journal of research and news published with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services of US.

Dubbed as the “Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban,” the statement documents a consensus of more than 200 scientists and medical professionals on the hazards of and lack of demonstrated benefit from common uses of triclosan and triclocarban.  

The signatories called upon “the international community to limit the production and use of triclosan and triclocarban and to question the use of other antimicrobials.”

Based on extensive peer-reviewed research, the statement concludes that triclosan and triclocarban are environmentally persistent endocrine disruptors that bioaccumulate in and are toxic to aquatic and other organisms. 

According to the statement:

---“Triclosan and triclocarban are used as antimicrobials, a class of chemicals present in >2,000 products.   In personal care products like hand soap, there is no evidence that use of triclosan or triclocarban improves consumer or patient health or prevents disease.”

---“Triclosan and triclocarban used in consumer products end up in the environment and have been detected in a wide variety of matrices worldwide.”

---“Triclosan and triclocarban persist in the environment and are a source of toxic and carcinogenic compounds including dioxins, chloroform, and chlorinated anilines.”

---“Triclosan, triclocarban, and their transformation products and byproducts bioaccumulate in aquatic plants and animals, and triclosan partitions into human blood and breast milk.”

---“Triclosan and triclocarban have detrimental effects on aquatic organisms.”

---“Humans are exposed to triclosan and triclocarban through direct contact with personal care products  and from other sources including food, drinking water, and dust.” 

---“Triclosan and triclocarban are endocrine disruptors and are associated with reproductive and developmental impacts in animal and in vitro studies.”

---“Human epidemiology and animal studies suggest triclosan exposure can increase sensitivity to allergens.”

---“Overuse of triclosan may contribute to antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance and may modify the microbiome.”

---“A number of authorities, including the US FDA, have restricted the use of triclosan and triclocarban in certain types of soaps. These and other antimicrobial chemicals are generally not restricted from use in other products.”

The Florence Statement lists several recommendations to prevent harm from triclosan, triclocarban and other antimicrobial substances with similar properties and effects.  These include:

---“Avoid the use of triclosan, triclocarban, and other antimicrobial chemicals except where they provide an evidence-based health benefit (e.g., physician-prescribed toothpaste for treating gum disease) and there is adequate evidence demonstrating they are safe.”

---“Where antimicrobials are necessary, use safer alternatives that are not persistent and pose no risk to humans or ecosystems.”

---“Label all products containing triclosan, triclocarban, and other antimicrobials, even in cases where no

health claims are made.”

---“Evaluate the safety of antimicrobials and their transformation products throughout the entire product life cycle, including manufacture, long-term use, disposal, and environmental release.”



29 June 2017

Schools Urged to Step Up Drive for Waste Prevention and Reduction


Now that classes are in full swing, an environmental advocacy group wasted no time to prod school administrators to strengthen current efforts promoting ecological solid waste management (ESWM) in the school system.

Through a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition urged school principals, as well as the faculty, non-academic personnel, students and parents, to work together in improving ESWM programs to cut the volume and toxicity of discards generated by country’s schools. 

“The resumption of classes provides a very good opportunity to renew interest and support for school-oriented ESWM principles and practices,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope that our school principals will utilize this opportunity to improve existing ESWM programs and further enhance the participation of students as well as the teaching and non-teaching staff,” he said.  

“Our principals can surely tap the student governments, faculty clubs and the Parent-Teacher Associations for broadly-supported ESWM initiatives,” he further said.  

“The effective implementation of ESWM in our schools will go a long way in instilling environmental awareness and sensitivity, especially among our young learners,” he added.  

The EcoWaste Coalition recalled that Department Order 5, Series of 2014, issued by the Department of Education provides for the “Implementing Guidelines on the Integration of Gulayan sa Paaralan, Solid Waste Management and Tree Planting Under the National Greening Program (NGP).”

According to the said guidelines, “every school shall practice waste management principles, such as minimization, specifically resource conservation and recovery, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, reuse and composting, in order to promote environmental awareness and action among the students.”

Among the activities to be conducted in schools as per D.O. 5 include:

- Prohibition of littering and burning of wastes;
- Avoidance of single-use disposable products and packaging materials such as plastic bags, straws, spoons, forks and paper cups and plates;
- Promotion of trash-free “baon”;
- Establishment of composting system to process biodegradable wastes;
- Use of recyclables as seed beds in the nursery or garden;
- Use of reusable food containers in school canteens;
- Avoidance of consumables such as bottled water, coffee, sugar and creamer in sachets in events and meetings.

D.O. 5 also calls for the designation of an area within the school as a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

The MRF can serve as a storage area for discards that can still be repaired and reused, as a collection area for different recyclables such as bottles, cans and plastic containers, and as a temporary place for keeping residual trash such as non-recyclable and non-compostable discards.

D.O 5 further provides for the appointment of a school representative to the Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee in the barangay where the school is located.

“We hope that Education Secretary Leonor Briones will give D.O. 5 a shot in the arm by issuing a circular reiterating its importance and the need for its full implementation,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


27 June 2017

Burning of Goods Seized from Illegal Vendors Gets a Thumbs-Down from Environmental Watch Group

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog group, urged the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) not to push through with its threat of burning goods seized from illegal street vendors in the metropolis.

MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim last week issued the verbal warning during the agency’s road clearing action at Balintawak, Quezon City in an attempt to stop hawkers from occupying sidewalks and streets and hampering the flow of traffic and causing bottlenecks. 

“As we are daily commuters ourselves, we support the government’s efforts to ease traffic congestion, especially along EDSA and other major roads,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“However, we ask the MMDA to drop its plan of burning the merchandises seized from non-compliant vendors as this will be tantamount to open burning, a prohibited act under Republic Act 9003,” she pointed out.

“We appeal to all concerned parties to talk and find a ‘win-win’ set of solutions that will address both the livelihood requirements of the vendors and the need to keep Metro Manila’s busy roads obstruction-free,” she added.

Section 48 of R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, prohibits and penalizes the open burning of solid waste.  Violators can be fined from P300 to P1,000 or imprisoned for one to 15 days, or both.

As a member agency of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the MMDA is expected to promote compliance to R.A. 9003 and not the other way around, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded.   

“Aside from being punishable by law, the open burning of seized goods, carts, stalls, plastic tarps and sheets, wooden crates, corrugated boxes and the like will generate environmental pollutants that can harm human health,” Lucero warned.

Among these environmental toxins are persistent organic pollutants or POPs such as dioxins and furans, which are byproducts of burning chlorinated materials, heavy metals like cadmium, lead and mercury, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, and microscopic particles, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Air pollutants have been linked to a range of adverse health effects, including respiratory infections, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer,” according to the World Health Organization.

Instead of burning confiscated commodities and tools of trade, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested that seized items that can be safely consumed or put to good use should be given to social welfare and development institutions such as orphanages, homes for the elderly and other charitable groups.