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.



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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).

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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.

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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. 

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