13 December 2017

Group Urges Consumers to Shun Toxic Christmas Presents

As the holiday shopping season gets underway, a chemical safety watch group reminded consumers to be on the lookout for potentially dangerous gift products in the marketplace.

After releasing its list of hazardous toys (haztoys) last Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition today has come up with a new list of non-toy gift items that are laden with hidden toxins such as cadmium and lead.

“With Christmas just a few days away, we see consumers packing out malls to buy heaps of holiday presents for relatives, colleagues and friends.  Retail stores in Divisoria, the hub of cheap finds, are enjoying brisk sales for various gifts imaginable,” observed Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“But, as we all know, not all gift items are created equal.  As not all products are regulated or are compliant with quality and safety standards, it is not uncommon to find harmful chemicals in some gift items above levels of concern,” he said.

"Furthermore, these items are inadequately labeled, providing not even a clue on their toxic composition," he added. 

To alert and to educate consumers about the undisclosed toxic substances lurking in some gift items, the EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday and Monday bought assorted gift items from 11/88, 168. 999 and Lucky Chinatown shopping malls in Divisoria and from retail stores in Quiapo.

The products costing P40 to P140 each were then screened for toxic metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.  

Comprising the group’s list of 12 hazardous gifts (hazgifts) are:

1. Spongebob coffee mug, P50, with 15,800 ppm lead and 974 ppm cadmium

2. Fashion Milk Cup, P140, with 15,600 ppm lead and 2,020 ppm cadmium

3. Champion coffee mug, P70, with 12,300 ppm lead and 687 ppm cadmium

4.  Xiao Dang Ja coffee mug, P60, with 11,000 ppm lead and 3,086 ppm cadmium

5.  Santa Claus-themed plate, P100, with 10,500 ppm lead and 2,947 ppm cadmium

6.  Christmas bells-themed plate, P40, with 6798 ppm lead and 3,855 ppm cadmium

7.  Fashion Cup with Minion characters, P50, with 3,982 ppm lead and 1,661 ppm cadmium

8.  Christmas ball-themed plate, P40, with 3,441 ppm lead and 1,207 ppm cadmium

9.  Enfill de Jouer coin purse, P50, with 2,678 ppm lead

10.  Santa Claus coffee mug, P40, with 3,298 ppm lead and 2,288 ppm cadmium

11.  Saglife black and yellow body bag, P100, with 1,511 ppm lead

12.  Pikachu sling bag, P80, with 1,079 ppm lead and 222 ppm cadmium

"Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen," according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lead, according to the WHO, is "a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems."  

Cadmium and lead belong to WHO’s list of “ten chemicals of major public health concern." 

Cadmium and lead and their compounds are also listed in the Philippine Priority Chemicals List, which includes chemical substances that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has “determined to potentially pose unreasonable risk to public health, workplace, and the environment.”





12 December 2017

Groups Give Waste Incineration Bill Thumbs Down

Green groups belonging to No Burn Pilipinas alliance denounced  the approval yesterday by the House of Representatives (HoR) Committee on Ecology of a bill repealing the waste incineration ban under R.A. 8749, or the Clean Air Act of 1999.

The Bangon Kalikasan Movement, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm and the Mother Earth Foundation criticized the committee for hastily giving the nod to the Regulation of Thermal Treatment Technology Act proposed by Aklan Rep. Carlito Marquez and others that consequently revokes Section 20 of R.A. 8749.

Considered a milestone in pollution prevention, the incineration ban disallows “the burning of municipal, biomedical and hazardous waste, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes.”  R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, reinforced the ban by requiring the “adoption of the best practice in ecological waste management excluding incineration.”

Decrying the absence of serious efforts by the HoR  to conduct balanced and comprehensive studies on the issue, green groups slammed the Committee for the haste and lack of transparency that attended the process, especially given the serious health, socio-economic, and public health implications of the proposed measure.

Currently marketed by the industry as so-called “waste-to-energy” plants, these facilities, aside from increasing cancer risks, are more expensive than coal and nuclear plants, more harmful to the climate than coal, and generate very little electricity while burning up resources that may still be recovered, reused or recycled, the groups asserted.

“The pro-incineration bill is unconstitutional and threatens to create  massive disaster to the environment and irreversible damage to the health of all people, especially children for generations to come," stated Joey Papa, President, Bangon Kalikasan Movement. 

Papa pointed out that incineration violates  Section 16 of the Philippine Constitution of 1987 ("The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."); Section 20 of R.A. 8749 ("Incineration... the burning of municipal, biomedical, and hazardous waste, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes, is hereby prohibited."); and  Section 3 of R.A. 9003 ("Resource recovery shall refer to the collection, extraction or recovery of recyclable materials from the waste stream for the purpose of recycling, generating energy or producing a product suitable for beneficial use: Provided that such resource recovery facilities exclude incineration."). 

“Far from solving our garbage woes, the lifting of the incineration ban as proposed by some lawmakers will only compound our problems as incinerators can inflict harm to human health and the ecosystems, contribute significantly to environmental pollution and global warming, and fuel an unsustainable system of unbridled production, crass consumerism, and throw-away culture," said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Burning trash is a regressive approach to waste management that is being phased out in other parts of the world which are now pursuing a more sustainable circular economy,” said Lea Guerrero, climate and clean energy campaigner of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). “Our lawmakers must reject this bill. We are also calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to seriously reconsider his plans to pursue incineration which puts the Filipino people’s welfare and the environment at risk.”

"Incineration will be tantamount to national regression.  It will be an illogical step backward.  We already have the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which adheres to the ways and rhythms of nature, the best in the world.  Instead of making it work with the needed political will, why would we go to a dangerous, expensive technology that many advanced nations are turning their back on?," said Dr. Angelina Galang, President, Green Convergence.

“No Burn Pilipinas believes that the haste surrounding the bill is highly irregular and deplorable given that what is under deliberation will undermine cornerstone environmental laws,” said Ramon San Pascual, executive director of Health Care Without Harm. “This issue deserves more deliberation and public discussion than the hurried token consultations our honorable representatives have deemed sufficient.”

According to Sonia Mendoza, chairman of Mother Earth Foundation, “The push to repeal the incineration ban will undermine source segregation, recycling, and other Zero Waste strategies that conserve precious resources, avoid toxic pollution, and generate livelihoods and jobs. Instead of overturning the prohibition on waste burning, Congress should in fact strengthen it by supporting the strict implementation of RA 9003 through innovative Zero Waste projects in the country.”

No Burn Pilipinas is an alliance of civil society groups who are advocating Zero Waste technologies and are calling on the government to uphold the ban on waste incineration.


11 December 2017

Watch Group Names 10 Haztoys (Hazardous Toys) to Tip Off Consumers on Toys to Avoid this Christmas

A non-profit watch group promoting children’s health and safety today released a list of toys that may put a child at risk of physical injuries and chemical exposures.

“Children are uniquely susceptible to the negative effects of shoddily made and chemically laden toys as their immature bodies and minds are still growing and developing,  It is the responsibility of  toy manufacturers, distributors and vendors, and even individual toy givers, to offer toys that meet quality and safety standards in recognition of the right of children to safe games and toys to play with,” reminded Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“While all children are vulnerable to injuries and chemical exposures, children from families living in poverty may be at increased risk due to their lack of purchasing power and their lack of access to product safety information, justice and redress,” he added.

In a bid to keep unsafe toys out of children’s hands, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with a list of hazardous toys (haztoys) that are often sold without the required market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the country’s toy regulator.

“Through this list, we hope to hammer home the need for consumer awareness and vigilance against unsafe toys this Christmas season,” Dizon said.  “It is not an exhaustive list of toys in the market that may present various health and safety hazards to innocent children,” he clarified.

Among those that landed on the EcoWaste Coalition’s list of 10 “haztoys” are baby rattles, fidget spinners, a xylophone, doll figures, a “Shrilling Chicken,” duck bath toys, toy artificial nails, a Rubik’s Cube-like toy, a toy car, and battle swords. 

I. Baby Rattles.  Sold very cheaply for as low as P15, rattles come in various types and sizes and are often sold without choking hazard warnings in violation of R.A. 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act.  Rattles can break and release the small beads, bearings or balls inside, posing a choking hazard to helpless babies.  

II. Fidget Spinners.  Also called hand spinners, these popular toys contain bearings and bushings that many come off and get ingested by children.  Aside from its small parts that may detach and its pointed edges that may cause cuts or lacerations, the EcoWaste Coalition found a “Ninja Animation” hand spinner adorned with a yellow paint containing dangerous lead concentrations amounting to 125,100 parts per million (ppm), way above the 90 ppm limit.  Lead, a toxic metal, can wreak havoc on the developing brain, leading to reduced intelligence.  

III. “Wonderful Music Xylophone.”  While lead was not detected on the other coated metal bars of this musical instrument, the orange bar was found to contain 10,800 ppm total lead, in violation of the 90 ppm limit under the DENR’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

IV: Doll Figures.  Cadmium, a carcinogenic chemical, was detected on the paint coatings of these unlabeled dolls at 1,200 ppm.  Like lead, cadmium can disrupt the development of a child’s brain, causing learning disabilities.

V. Shrilling Chicken.  This “screaming” chicken toy may contain banned substances such as di(2- ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCPPs).  A laboratory analysis contracted by the EcoWaste Coalition found a sample of Shrilling Chicken laden with 19.1% DEHP, exceeding the 0.1% limit.  Luxembourg banned Shrilling Chicken in 2017, Spain in 2016, and the Czech Republic in 2014 due to its DEHP content.  Sweden banned it in 2013 for containing highly toxic SCPPs.

VI. Floating Duck Bath Toy.  Supposedly a fun companion for babies during bath time, this toy may contain DEHP.  A laboratory test commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition found a vinyl rubber duck laced with 18.87% DEHP, way above the 0.1% limit.

VII. Toy Fashion Nail Set.  The adhesive used to attach these artificial nails contains Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), which is listed among the substances that must not form part of cosmetic products under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  According to a health warning by the FDA, “DBP has the ability to cause allergic reactions, (which) can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system.”

VIII. Dian Sheng Eatena Puzzle Cube.  This Rubik’s Cube-like toy tested positive for toxic flame retardant chemicals OctaBDE and DecaBDE, which are commonly found in the plastic casings of cathode ray tube TVs and computer monitors.   Based on tests conducted at the Czech Republic in 2015, this China-made toy purchased in the Philippines contains 108 ppm of OctaBDE and 293 ppm of DecaBDE, which are chemicals know to disrupt human hormone systems, affecting the brain and the central nervous system. 

IX. Police Cool SUV.  Sold on the sidewalk for P20, this plastic toy car contains 1,380 ppm of bromine, an indicator that the material may contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) from recycled e-waste plastics. PBDEs are targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

X. Battle Swords.  These toy weapons measuring 25 to 30 inches long have the potential to cause blunt force injuries to the eyes, face and body due to the plastic blade, especially when played without adult supervision.

“We hope consumers will heed our call for toy safety.  All children deserve nothing less than safe toys that are well-designed, durable, age-appropriate, and non toxic,” Dizon emphasized.


07 December 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Urges the Public to Cut Down on Holiday Trash (Holitrash) with 3Rs and More

With Christmas rapidly approaching, a waste and pollution watch group today drew attention to what each and every person or household can do to lessen what it calls the enormous holiday trash or “holitrash.”

At an event held at the Quirino Elementary School (QES) in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that the tons of “holitrash,” if not kept in check, would end up being disposed of in streets, waterways, dumpsites, incinerators, or in the oceans, which are already choking with plastics and trash.   The group chose “Christmasaya kapag walang aksaya” as the perfect theme for the occasion.

“The volume of waste produced is expected to soar as people shop, party, dine and have fun during the joyful season.  Sad to say, the throwaway culture is at its worst as the birth of the Redeemer is recalled and celebrated.  In Metro Manila, for instance, per capita waste generation during Christmastime is estimated to rise from 0.7 kilo to 1.2 kilo,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

The most discarded items during the extended celebration of Christmas and New Year include paper and plastic shopping bags; all sorts of packaging materials; party wares, including single-use paper and plastic beverage and food containers; bags, boxes and wrappers for gifts; and tons of food waste, according to the group.

“The humongous ‘holitrash’ situation is aggravated by the poor segregation of discards at source, and the toxic byproduct waste from the lighting of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices,” he added.

“But the situation is not entirely hopeless.  We can curb what we throw away by applying the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and by keeping Christ in the manger, an utmost reminder of the simplicity of Christmas, at the heart of the festive celebration,” he pointed out.

QES students, applying the 3Rs, flaunted a creatively made lantern adorned with used spoons and bottle lids, a Belen made of juice packs, and a Christmas tree from PET bottles.

The EcoWaste Coalition also showed assorted Christmas decorations fashioned out of typical household discards such as snack packs, soda cans, textile scraps, fabric conditioner containers, plastic bottles, etc.   
To further reduce the generation of garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded holiday shoppers to bring a stash of reusable bags and containers and to shun both paper and plastic bags to cut on bag waste. 

Gift givers can opt not to wrap Christmas presents to minimize the use of wrappers.  If wrapping is desired, reuse old bandannas, handkerchiefs, fabric remnants, jars, shoe boxes, newspapers and magazines, the group suggested. 

The group reminded those hosting or organizing Christmas parties to opt for washable and reusable tableware and party supplies in lieu of disposable ones, which may be “convenient,” but certainly wasteful.

As garbage is produced by putting discards together in one bin, the group stressed the need to keep discards properly segregated to facilitate their reusing, recycling or composting.

Non-biodegradable discards such as aluminum and tin cans, glass and plastic bottles, and other materials can be repurposed, reused or recycled, while biodegradable discards such as food waste can be fed to animals or turned into compost to enrich the soil, the group said.

The group emphasized that the open burning discards is not only unlawful but also detrimental to human health and the environment.  Open burning can lead to the formation and release of persistent organic pollutants and greenhouse gases that cause environmental pollution, global warming and climate change.

Finally, the group urged the public to opt for a quieter celebration without firecrackers and fireworks to prevent the generation of toxic smoke and waste, noting that firecracker and pyrotechnic residues are laden with hazardous chemicals and cannot be recycled.


06 December 2017

Groups Welcome Senate Inquiry on Canada Garbage Dumping as Proposed by Sen. Koko Pimentel

Civil society groups from the environmental and labor sectors welcomed the latest move by the Senate to address the unsettled Canadian garbage dumping issue weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced “it is now theoretically possible to get (the illegal garbage shipments) back.” 

The Ang Nars Partylist, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Public Services Independent Labor Confederation (PSLINK) and the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) said the inquiry as proposed by Senate President Koko Pimentel should help in preventing dumping incidents from ever occurring again.

The said groups are intervenors in Criminal Case No. 143-11191 being heard at the sala of Judge Tita Bughao-Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila against Canadian trash importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon for violation of R.A. 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.

Pimentel on Monday filed Senate Resolution 553, stating that “considering the monumental consequences of allowing Canadian garbage to remain in the country, it behooves the Senate, in consonance with its mandate under the Constitution, to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, to determine whether there are sufficient laws restricting the indiscriminate entry and dumping of solid waste and other forms of harmful trash into the Philippines and to formulate laws imposing high penalties for the introduction into the country of all forms of trash.”

“Sen. Pimentel’s proposal to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation is exceedingly timely and should merit the support from all Senators regardless of their political affiliations.  We expect the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar, to convene the first hearing in January next year as the current session is about to adjourn soon.  We look forward to an expedited process as the same committee, then chaired by Sen. Chiz Escudero, had already tackled the issue at a hearing conducted in 2015,”  said Dr. Leah Paquiz, Ang Nars Partylist representative to the last Congress.

“We welcome the probe being sought by the Senate President as this would assist in analyzing the gaps in current laws and regulations that made it possible for the illegal trash shipments to enter our ports and even overstay despite a court order to send them back.  More importantly, it will help in identifying corrective measures that must be introduced and promulgated to shield our nation from the adverse impacts of the unlawful waste trade to public health and the environment,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The outcome of the planned inquiry should put a lid on the entry on problematic waste imports into the Philippines in the guise of recycling, which has become a convenient excuse for dumping.  Hope the Senators will join us in pushing for the country’s ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment to bar the entry of hazardous wastes in our territory for disposal and so-called recycling,” said Froilan Grate, Executive Director, GAIA-Philippines.

“The inquiry, we hope, will generate concrete results that will help strengthen frontline agencies such as the Bureau of Customs and the Environmental Management Bureau in performing their strategic responsibilities toward safeguarding our country and our workers  from the transboundary movement of proscribed wastes,” said Annie Geron, President, PSLINK.

The groups pledged to participate in the proposed Senate inquiry and support its important work in line with the state policy “to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

“The Senate inquiry should create enough noise that will put additional pressure on Prime Minister Trudeau and his government to take back their trash now.  As there is no guarantee that the ‘theoretical possibility’ he was talking about last month was for real or not, we call upon all sectors to remain vigilant and assert our sovereign right not be treated as Canada’s dumpsite,” the groups said.


Link to Sen. Koko Pimentel's proposed resolution:

01 December 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Promotes "Santa's Guide for Safe Toys" This Christmas Season and All Year Round

With the onset of the Christmas toy bonanza, a non-profit watch group has called on consumers to be on the alert for play things that may bring harm instead of joy to young children.

In a bid to promote consumer vigilance against dangerous toys, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with an eight-point “Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys” that will come in handy for toy buyers this gift-giving season.

“Not all toys are created equal.  There are plenty of toys out there that have not passed quality and safety standards.  It is therefore very important for consumers to be extra careful when shopping for gift items to prevent hazardous toys from reaching the hands of our children,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“With the health and welfare of young children in mind, we have come up with toy shopping tips to assist consumers in selecting safe toys this Christmas season,” he said.

Safe toys, according to the “Santa’s Guide,” must be 1) age-appropriate, 2) well-made,  3) no small parts, 4) string shorter than 12 inches, 5) injury-free, 6) not coated with lead paint, 7) not made up of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, and 8) duly labeled and registered

By following “Santa’s shopping tips,” children will be safer from play things that may pose chemical, choking, laceration, poking, strangulation and other safety hazards to their developing minds and bodies, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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

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

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

4.  Avoid toys with a cord longer than 12 inches to prevent strangulation incidents.  Toys with a cord or string longer than 12 inches can be deadly as it can wrap around the neck and asphyxiate a child.
5.  Go for injury-free toys.  Refrain from procuring toys that can injure a child’s ears, eyes, skin and body such as toys with pointed parts, sharp edges and those that can eject small objects such as toy pellet guns. 

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

7.  Opt for toys that are not made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic to prevent a child from being exposed to harmful chemicals additives such as toxic phthalates that can leach out when a toy is chewed or sucked.

8.  Seek duly labeled toy and childcare articles (TCCAs) that are notified with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Notified TCCAs have undergone the FDA’s quality and safety verification procedures.  

Toys that are properly registered with the FDA will provide the following information on the product label: the license to operate (LTO) number of the toy manufacturer or distributor, age grade, cautionary statements/ warnings, instructional literature, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name.

“Keep your children safe by following ‘Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys’ this Christmastime and all year round,” Dizon suggested.


28 November 2017

Group Proposes: Donate Money for Firecrackers and Fireworks for Marawi Rehabilitation

A street vendor sells firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices in Divisoria, Manila.

Government offices, private companies, households and ordinary individuals can help Marawi City rise up out of the devastating armed conflict by not lighting firecrackers and fireworks this Yuletide season.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, proposes a quieter, safer and austere celebration of Christmas and the New Year sans firecrackers and pyrotechnics in solidarity with the Maranao people who are still grappling with the impacts of the war against the Maute terror group on their lives.

“We appeal to our fellow Filipinos to think twice before buying firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices or staging costly firework displays at a time when tens of thousands of residents of the war-torn city are in need of our compassion and assistance,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We ask everyone, especially those with money to burn for firecrackers and pyrotechnics, not to be insensitive to the plight of the Marawi people, especially the children, the elderly and the internally displaced persons,” she said.

“Instead of causing bodily injury and property damage, and instead of polluting the environment with chemical-laden smoke, soot and trash, caring individuals, households, local governments, and businesses should refrain from spending for firecrackers and pyrotechnics and share the money saved to responsible charities and agencies helping to rebuild shattered lives,” she suggested.

Aside from not spending for firecrackers and pyrotechnics, the EcoWaste Coalition also requested concerned offices not to spend for “Merry Christmas” tarpaulins and excessive decorations, avoid ostentatious parties and celebrations, and to channel the resources saved for the rehabilitation of Marawi.

The group urged the public to heed the calls for help from ABS CBN Foundation, Alagang Kapatid Foundation, Caritas Manila, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, GMA Kapuso Foundation,  Philippine Red Cross, Save the Children, World Vision and other charitable institutions.

It also invited the public to support the government-created Task Force Bangon Marawi, which is the inter-agency body in charge of the recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the war-ravaged city.

One of the functions of the said Task Force is to “attend to the health, sanitation, food, and other basic needs of the affected residents,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

The Task Force’s Sub-Committee on Health and Social Welfare, co-led by the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, is “responsible for taking measures to provide sanitation and health facilities, medical supplies, food, potable water, and other basic necessities.”



http://www.officialgazette.gov .ph/downloads/2017/06jun/20170 628-AO-3-RRD.pdf

15 November 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Trudeau’s Statement on Canadian Garbage Issue with Cautious Optimism

The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the pronouncement made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his press conference yesterday indicating that the festering garbage shipments from Canada could be repatriated to its origin.

“We welcome the fact that he discussed this drawn out dumping controversy with President Rodrigo Duterte and committed to follow up on the matter.  Like many of our colleagues, we are cautiously optimistic that Canada will be able to take their garbage back, but they should do it with greater urgency, and commit to making sure such unethical and unlawful dumping never happen again in the future,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The EcoWaste Coalition, together with our partners in the environmental justice movement in the Philippines and in Canada, will remain alert and not let our guard down knowing that the re-export of the trash shipments is only a theoretical possibility at this time,” she said.

Zero Waste Canada, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to helping end the age of wasting through better design and education, recently emailed the EcoWaste Coalition affirming their “support in this much too long ordeal,” saying “we will continue to shine a light on this until it is resolved.

Trudeau yesterday told the press “it is now theoretically possible to take it back,” adding the legal obstacles have been addressed.

"Canadian legal regulations prevented us from being able to receive the waste back to Canada. We had legal barriers and restrictions that prevented us from taking it back, but that's done now," he said, noting “there’s still a number of questions around who would pay for it.”

 “Compared to the vague statement he made in 2015 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit, what Trudeau said this time offers a glimmer of hope for a country like ours that is struggling with our own garbage woes,” Lucero observed.

Trudeau disappointed environmentalists when he vaguely stated in 2015 that a “Canadian solution” is being developed, but made no firm declaration of re-importing his country’s garbage.

“We trust the Canadian government will be able to quickly address the remaining financial and legal questions, so as not to delay the shipping of the overstaying trash back to Canada.  We have waited for so long and we want to put this controversy behind us,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

For her part, Abigail Aguilar, Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said:  “While we appreciate the soundbyte, we hope that this pronouncement does not remain a ‘theory’ but a ‘fulfilled promise.’ The Canadian waste issue has long been swept under the rug. This stinking problem needs to be resolved as soon as possible and we hope that it does not wait for another two years, another APEC or ASEAN Summit for it to happen." 

It will be recalled that a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling arrived in the Philippines from Canada in 2013-2014.  

Customs inspectors intercepted the garbage shipments by Chronic Inc. (a Canadian company) to Chronic Plastics (a Filipino company) after being alerted by the Environmental Management Bureau about the misdeclared trash imports.  

Importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon were subsequently charged in court for violation of Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990) and tariff and customs laws.

A waste analysis and characterization study conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2014 showed that 64% of the shipments were “bailed municipal solid waste or garbage destined for immediate local disposal and cannot be recycled.”

Such garbage shipments, according to the DENR, “are strictly prohibited to be exported and are classified as Waste No. Y46 listed in Annex II of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.”

Twenty-six of the 103 container vans of Canadian garbage were illegally disposed of at a private landfill in Tarlac in June–July 2015, angering local officials and residents and galvanizing citizens’ opposition against foreign waste disposal in the country.

In June 2016, Judge Tita Bughao-Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 1) ordered the return of the 50 shipping containers covered by Criminal Case No. 143-11191, emphasizing that the Philippines is not a “trash bin” and that the dumping incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”  The court order has yet to be complied with.

Ang Nars Partylist, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Public Services Independent Labor Confederation, and the Samahan ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa are intervenors in the said case.


13 November 2017

Calls for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Take Canadian Garbage Home Mount after He Ordered Food for Take-Out in a Restaurant Not Far from where the Rotting Trash Shipments are Stored (Environmentalists Press PM Trudeau to Take Garbage Out of the Philippines)

The unresolved dumping scandal involving the bungled shipment of 103 container vans of residual garbage from Canada that arrived in the Philippines in batches from 2013 to 2014 continues to haunt Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who first visited the country in 2015 for the APEC Summit.

The visiting Canadian leader faces mounting calls to take the rotting garbage home after his much-publicized out of schedule visit to a popular fastfood restaurant that is few minutes away from the Port of Manila where the illegal trash imports from Canada are stored.

“While we do not have any problem with PM Trudeau stopping by a 100% Filipino-owned restaurant, he should have gone as well to the nearby port to see for himself the reeking Canadian trash shipments and right there and then made the announcement to take the garbage out of the Philippines.  That act would have merited greater media mileage, and endeared him to all Filipinos,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“PM Trudeau cannot skip the Canadian garbage issue with another vague statement like what he did in 2015 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit.  Evading the issue again will badly reflect on his capacity and sincerity as a global leader, and will only mean he doesn’t really care about the rotting trash in our port and their adverse impacts to our health, environment and to our dignity as a sovereign nation,” she emphasized. 

"Years after these tons of waste were dumped in the Philippines, and two years after PM Trudeau last visited the Philippines, the Filipinos are still waiting for the Canadian government to act and take back their waste. Until when is the Canadian government going to ignore this festering issue? We continue to call on PM Trudeau to show real leadership and end this madness as soon as possible. I hope PM Trudeau does not let this become Canada's legacy in the Philippines," said Abigail Aguilar, Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Dr. Angelina Galang, President, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, stressed “no country deserves to be a dumping ground for another country’s rubbish.  Canada has no option but to re-import their trash and to guarantee that such unethical act will never occur again.”
“PM Trudeau should uphold the highest good of his office before the international community by complying with his country’s legally bounded treaty commitment disallowing the transboundary shipments of hazardous waste,” said Rene Pineda, President, Consumer Rights for Safe Food.

Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation, “remains hopeful that PM Trudeau will not leave the Philippines without confirming Canada’s commitment to get back their garbage in line with international law and in the spirit of environmental justice.” 

“The botched Canadian trash shipments are in violation of national and international laws that are meant to safeguard our country from the transboundary transfer of hazardous waste and other wastes.  As a respected member of the global community, we hope Canada will finally do the right thing and repossess their garbage for proper disposal in Canada,” stated Atty. Amang Mejia, Counsel of the EcoWaste Coalition and other intervenors in a criminal case filed by the government against the importers of the Canadian garbage.

Twenty-six of the 103 container vans of Canadian garbage were illegally disposed of at a private landfill in Tarlac in June–July 2015, angering local officials and residents and galvanizing citizens’ opposition against foreign waste disposal in the country.

In June 2016, Judge Tita Bughao-Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 1) ordered the return of the 50 shipping containers covered by Criminal Case No. 143-11191, emphasizing that the Philippines is not a “trash bin” and that the dumping incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”  The court order has yet to be complied with.

Ang Nars Partylist, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Public Services Independent Labor Confederation, and the Samahan ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa are intervenors in the said case versus importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon for violation of Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990).


Honest Uber Driver Gets Kudos from Environmental Group

A very grateful Thony Dizon (left) gets the XRF device back from Uber driver Francisco Martin.
The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental group, profusely thanked Mr. Francisco “Toto” Martin, an honest Uber driver residing in ParaƱaque City, for returning a very expensive chemicals screening device worth P1.8 million that was left behind in his vehicle.  Martin is the driver of a white Mitsubishi Adventure van with plate number NQ 2484.

On early Sunday morning of November 12, 2017, Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition ordered a ride with Uber from Matalino St. to Quezon Memorial Circle for the launch of the group’s annual drive for safe and non-toxic toys.  Martin accepted Dizon’s order and brought him and his wife Nora to the requested destination.  Unfortunately, the luggage-like case containing the group’s X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device was accidentally left behind the car. 

Dizon then reported the matter via Uber app but was unable to get in touch with Martin.  A frantic Dizon then went to the nearest police station to report the incident.  An hour after filing a police report, Dizon finally got hold of Martin.  A meeting was arranged in Taguig City and the XRF device was finally returned to Dizon on the same day.

“We are very grateful to Kuya Toto for his honesty and cooperation.  The XRF is not only expensive.  It is a very important advocacy tool that has allowed our group to screen products such as toys, childcare articles, school supplies, cosmetics and paints for toxic chemicals that are damaging to human health and the environment.  This device is probably our best performing asset that has contributed to increasing consumer awareness about chemicals in products, and to exposing hazardous products in the marketplace.”

“We thank Kuya Toto from the bottom of our hearts for his honesty and service.  He is an outstanding Uber driver indeed,” said Dizon.

12 November 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Campaigns for Children’s Right to Safe Games and Toys to Play With ahead of the ASEAN Summit

As presidents, prime ministers and other influential leaders from the government and the industry converge in the Philippines for the 31st  ASEAN Summit and related meetings, a group of young children, along with their parents and teachers, gathered in Quezon City on Sunday morning to tackle an issue that may not even get cited in any of the conference declarations and statements: the right of children to safe games and toys to play with.

At the launch of the EcoWaste Coalition’s annual advocacy for safe and non-toxic toys, over 150 children joined the fun and music-filled event to call attention to the importance of protecting children from unsafe playthings in the ASEAN and the domestic marketplace.

The event coincided with two historic milestones: the 3rd  anniversary of the adoption by the Commission of Human Rights of “The People’s Right to Chemical Safety: A 15-Point Human Rights Agenda” on November 14, and the 28th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20.

“Through our event today, we hope to draw society’s support to efforts aimed at ensuring children’s access to safe and non-hazardous playthings that will contribute to their full intellectual, emotional and physical development, especially during their formative years,” explained Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Children will easily fall victims to the hidden dangers of low-quality and improperly labeled toys, hence the need to protect them from such dangers that are often unnoticeable to the naked eye,” he said.

"We seek greater cooperation among ASEAN member states and their dialogue partners, particularly China, to safeguard all children from the illegal and unethical trade of toys that are not guaranteed safe for children's use," he added.

During the event, Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President of Laban Konsyumer, Inc. stressed the importance of enforcing R.A. 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013.

“Over four years have lapsed since the law was approved and we wonder if its Implementing Rules and Regulations will ever see the light of day this year.  We have to push for the implementation of this law, which imposes special labeling for games and toys to protect children against potential hazards to their health and safety,” said Dimagiba, a former Department of Trade and Industry undersecretary.

Pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio warned that toys that have not undergone quality and safety assessment may contain health-damaging chemicals such as cadmium, lead, mercury, phthalates and other hazardous substances.

“Children are exposed to these toxic chemicals that can leach out when they put toys inside their mouth or suck toys containing such substances.  Chronic exposure to these chemicals even at low levels may put the growth and development of children at risk,” said Antonio, a doctor at the East Avenue Medical Center.

Chronic exposure to lead even at low doses, for instance, can harm a child’s health over time, affect brain development and result to decreased intelligence as measured by IQ tests, reduced school performance and behavioral problems.
Aside from chemical risk, the EcoWaste Coalition identified other common hazards in toys that consumers should be cautious about, including loose or small parts that may be swallowed and cause breathing difficulties or choking;  pointed or sharp edges that may injure the eyes or cause cuts and grazes;  and cords longer than 12 inches that cause strangulation.
With Christmas toy shopping spree fast approaching, the EcoWaste Coalition came up with an eight-point “Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys.” Safe toys must be 1) age-appropriate, 2) well-made,  3) no small parts, 4) string shorter than 12 inches, 5) injury-free, 6) not coated with lead paint, 7) not made up of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, and 8) duly labeled and registered.

During the event, the EcoWaste Coalition screened toys brought by the participating children for toxic metals using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

Among the participants were children, parents and teachers from Buklod Kabataan, ROTCHNA Daycare Center, and the San Vicente Elementary School.


11 November 2017

Groups Blast PM Justin Trudeau for Failing to Solve Canadian Garbage Dumping Row

Environmental justice advocates from various sectors today slammed visiting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the failure of his leadership to put the lingering Canadian garbage controversy to rest.

At a press briefing held at Eurotel EDSA in Quezon City, activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes, Ang Nars Partylist Rep. Leah Paquiz, labor leader Joanna Bernice Coronacion, and zero waste advocate Aileen Lucero expressed utter dismay over the failure of the so-called “Canadian solution” to remove the tons of residual trash illegally sent to the Philippines from Canada under the guise of recycling.

On the sidelines of the APEC Summit held in the Philippines in 2015, Trudeau stated that a “Canadian solution (was) being developed” to plug the loopholes being used by private companies to ship garbage out of Canada, but skirted the issue of taking back the illegal trash shipments as demanded by various quarters.

“Almost two years have passed since PM Trudeau talked about the so-called ‘Canadian solution’ and the garbage-filled container vans are still languishing in the Port of Manila,” lamented Dr. Leah Paquiz, representative of Ang Nars Partylist in the 16th Congress.  

“The real test of the efficacy of the ‘Canadian solution’ is the actual removal of these illegal trash shipments from our territory, the payment for the storage fees and  other costs incurred, and the fixing of legal ambiguities that allowed the garbage to be shipped out of Canada,” she pointed out.

“We further demand that both Canada and the Philippines should ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the transboundary movement of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries even for recycling,” she added.

For activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes, “the overstaying containers of contraband garbage shipments in our port provide a stinking evidence that the touted ‘Canadian solution’ is nothing but a hollow word.”  He said “it’s high time for the Prime Minister to do what is just and righteous, as his name Justin stands for, intercede and re-import the unlawful garbage consignments for environmentally-sound disposal in Canada.  Nothing less than this will put the dumping scandal to rest." He added "ang pinakamasaklap sa lahat ay ang ituring tayong mga Pilipino na basura o basurahan ng Canada."

“We are awfully disappointed to say the least over the apparent failure of the Canadian government to correct a clear case of environmental injustice committed against our nation and people, especially to our port and waste and sanitation workers who have to deal with the dumped foreign garbage.  We could not help but censure PM Trudeau for his lethargic response to resolve the garbage dumping scandal,” said Joanna Bernice Coronacion, Deputy Secretary General of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa. 

“We insist that Canada should take their garbage back now.  We hope PM Trudeau is not waiting for the discarded adult diapers, household wastes and mostly plastic residuals to break down in the container vans as that might take hundreds of years.  Canada is rich and unquestionably capable of managing its rubbish in a proper manner that will not jeopardize public health and the environment,” said, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

To put it bluntly, “the Philippine is not Canada’s dumpsite,” said Annie Geron, President of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK).  “PM Trudeau, clean as you go.  Take your garbage with you!”

It will be recalled that a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling were exported to the Philippines from Canada in 2013-2014.  

The Bureau of Customs seized the said shipments by Chronic Inc. (a Canadian company) to Chronic Plastics (a Filipino company) after being alerted by the Environmental Management Bureau about the misdeclared waste imports.  The authorities eventually charged the consignee for violations of the country’s environmental, tariff and customs laws. 

A waste analysis and characterization study conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed that 64% of the shipments were “bailed municipal solid waste or garbage destined for immediate local disposal and cannot be recycled.”

Such garbage shipments, according to the DENR, “are strictly prohibited to be exported and are classified as Waste No. Y46 listed in Annex II of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.”

Twenty-six of the garbage-filled container vans from Canada were illegally dumped at the Metro Clark landfill in Capas, Tarlac in June-July 2015, causing public outcry and galvanizing vocal opposition against foreign waste disposal in local landfills. 

In June 2016, Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 1) ordered the return of 50 shipping containers (approximately 1,400 tons) of illegal garbage imports from Canada, stressing that the Philippines is not  a “trash bin” and that the dumping incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”

As Criminal Case No. 143-11191 was limited only to 50 of the 103 container vans of illegal Canadian trash imports, civil society groups urged Canada, in the spirit of environmental justice, to voluntarily ensure the repatriation of all the illegal garbage shipments.  

Ang Nars, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, PSLINK and SENTRO are  intervenors in the said case versus importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon for violation of R.A. 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990.