16 October 2017

Many Toys Sold in Davao Improperly Labeled (Group Pushes Proper Toy Labeling to Ensure Children’s Safety)

 Inadequately labeled toys bought in Davao City

Toy samples with high lead content

Davao City/Quezon City.  As the observance of the Consumer Welfare Month gets underway, a non-profit watch group drew attention to toys sold in Davao City that lack the required product labeling information.

“We have bought assorted toys from various retail outlets in Davao City to check on their compliance with the required labeling information, which is very important to guide consumers on picking the right toy for a child that will not pose risk to her or his health and safety,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The toy products, costing P15 to P265 each, were obtained by the group from various retail stores in Uyanguren, Davao City on September 22 to 24, 2017.

The toys were brought to the office of the EcoWaste Coalition in Quezon City for product label examination and for heavy metal screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemical analyzer.  

Out of 71 toy samples, only three were found to be compliant with the mandatory toy labeling information required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency that oversees the product notification scheme for toy and childcare articles (TCCAs).

As per FDA Circular 2014-023, duly notified TCCAs should contain the following product labeling labeling information: license to operate (LTO) number, age grade, cautionary statements/ warnings, instructional literature, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor.

Five of the toy samples indicated valid LTO numbers on the labels as verified through the FDA website, the group noted.

Of the 71 toy samples, 18 were found to contain lead, a toxic chemical that can have serious effects for the health of children, above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

High lead concentrations up to 8,105 ppm were detected on the paint coatings of five turumpo, a popular outdoor game among boys.  The wooden whipping tops have zero labeling information.

“The use of lead-containing paints to decorate turumpo and other toys is a brazen violation of the country’s lead paint regulation,” Dizon said.

DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, strictly prohibits the use of lead paint in the production of toys, among other things.

Improperly labeled toys should not be offered for sale in the market if only Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013, is enforced, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Under the said law, toy products “not in compliance with the requirements of this Act shall be considered a misbranded or banned hazardous substance… and withdrawn from the market.”
R.A. 10620 states that non-compliant toys and games “shall be withdrawn from the market at the expense of the manufacturer or importer and shall not be allowed to be distributed, sold or offered for sale in the Philippines.”

Approved in September 2013, R.A. 10620 requires the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to “regularly publish every six months the list of all manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers who failed to comply with the requirements” of this law.

It further requires the Department of Health (DOH) to “publish every six months the list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances the sale, offer for sale and distribution of which shall not be allowed” under R.A. 10620.

To date, the DTI and DOH have yet to promulgate the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 10620.

“We hope concerned groups in Davao and elsewhere will join us in demanding the promulgation of R.A. 10620’s IRR for the health and safety of our children as toy consumers,” Dizon said.

The EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer, Inc., a consumer protection group, have been asking the authorities to release the much-delayed IRR toward the full enforcement of R.A. 10620.



http://www.lawphil.net/statute s/repacts/ra2013/ra_10620_ 2013.html

07 October 2017

Urban Poor Residents Get their Hands Dirty to Grow Organic Food , Keep Communities Clean

Over 150 urban poor residents from Camarin, Caloocan City literally got their hands dirty today for a solution-focused event to combat malnutrition and pollution.   

To mark the Green Action Week (GAW) on October 2 to 8, the EcoWaste Coalition in collaboration with Buklod Tao and the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) organized a hands-on skillshare in San Mateo, Rizal on how to raise organic vegetables through container gardening and how to turn biodegradable discards into compost.  

GAW is a global campaign promoting sustainable consumption initiated by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, 
Sweden’s oldest and largest environmental organization and a partner of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We have gathered today for a face-to-face learning with Buklod Tao community leaders on organic farming and composting that can help urban poor families improve nutritional intake as well as prevent trash from stinking,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.  

Dizon cited government data indicating high chronic malnutrition rate at over 25% in 2015 among children from age 0 to 2 that is aggravated by the unchecked consumption of foods high in trans fat, sugar and salt.  

“The lack of physical space should not discourage urban poor households from organically growing basic vegetables using repurposed containers such as juice packs, tin cans and plastic bottles, which can be placed in front of a house, by the rooftop or arranged as hanging planters,” he said.

“Venturing into organic food gardening will also encourage our households to segregate their discards at source and turn fruit and vegetable peelings and other biodegradables into compost,” added Noli Abinales, adviser, Buklod Tao, a people’s organization advocating for an environmentally-responsible and climate-resilient community.

“Composting is a key solution to the poor waste management in many communities, which can lead to a host of environmental and health problems such as the spread of diseases, flooding and global warming,” he said.

Abinales noted that Metro Manila generates 9,499 tons of waste per day consisting of biodegradable 
(44.32%), recyclable (31.64%), residuals (23.68) and special (0.36%) wastes as per waste characterization and analysis by the Metro Manila Development Authority.

UPA community leader Luz Sudueste from 
Caloocan City expressed her hope that similar skillshares will  be held in all urban poor communities with support from national and local authorities and civil society groups.

“Organic food gardening and composting is beneficial for our families and our environment.  We hope that similar trainings will be conducted in urban poor communities nationwide to help address the people’s need for nutritious food and for better waste management and sanitation,” she said.   

The participants brought home with them vegetable saplings planted on compost-enriched soil in a recycled pot container made out of juice packs courtesy of Buklod Tao.

The participants came from various groups including the Camarin Balikatan Community Association, Dagat-Dagatan Camarin Homeowners’ Association, Epiphany of the Lord Credit Cooperative, Kapatiran ng mga Maralita sa Camarin, Mabini-Lapu-Lapu Neighborhood Association, Samahan ng mga Responsableng Anak ng Nayon, and the San Vicente Ferrer Urban Coordinating Development Association.


Go organic for a greener planet!

Does it matter if it´s organic or not? The short answer is yes, it does. It makes a difference for you, your children, the bees, the farmers, the trees and the rivers. It makes an important difference to our planet. Organic food and farming for all is the Green Action Week theme for 2013-2017.
5 reasons to choose organic food

1. Toxic free!

Organic farming does not use agrochemicals like pesticides as these can be harmful for the environment and human health. Pesticides pose a risk to the health of farming families and people working on farms, who are directly exposed. But also to those living nearby who may be exposed to spray drift, polluted water, soil or waste from the farms. Research shows that eating organic food reduces exposure to hazardous pesticides.

2. More birds, plants and bees!                                                                  

Biodiversity is essential to make nature work. Did you know that the threat to biodiversity is as acute as the climate threat? Organic farmers plant a wide variety of crops rather than just one big field of the same. This and other organic methods increase the range of species of natural plants, birds, animals and insects in the soil and around the farm.

3. Knowledge instead of chemicals!

We need to change the way we produce and consume food. Studies show that solutions for the future can be found in organic agriculture. Instead of using agrochemicals organic farmers use knowledge. They use a greater diversity of crops and varieties – often indigenous. This generally gives better protection against drought and diseases, thus reducing risks for the farmer. In many parts of the world, the production methods used also increase the yields.

4. More jobs and higher incomes!

Organic farming is often more diversified and creates more jobs. Often, the production costs for the farmers are lower and profits higher when they no longer have to buy chemical fertilizers, pesticides and seeds.

5. Help organic farming grow!

Over 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and most of them are involved in farming. The majority of these small scale farmers already grow organic or close to. Buying organic products leads to increased production and incomes, improved local food security and a cleaner and greener environment.


06 October 2017

Group Alerts the Public as Another Water Color Set Is Banned due to High Lead Content

Artex Fine Water Colors, MPC Classique Water Colors and Xiao Yiren Water Colors banned 
by the Food and Drug Administration due to high lead content.

MPC Classique Water Colors contains lead above 90 parts per million (ppm) as per laboratory analysis by the FDA.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental health group, urged the public to watch out for another art coloring product laden with lead, a health-damaging chemical.  

The group’s advice came on the heels of a new public health warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 29, 2017 against MPC Classique Water Colors distributed by Multiline Products Corp.

According to FDA Advisory No. 2017-272, the said water color set was found to contain lead beyond the allowable limit of not more than 90 parts per million (ppm).

“We advise consumers to pay attention to FDA’s health warning.  Kids in particular should stay away from this unsafe art material to avoid being exposed to a chemical that is known to harm a child’s developing brain,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms, and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems.” 

“In particular lead can affect children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment,” the WHO said.

“Parents should not allow their children to come into contact with lead, especially from a preventable source like school supplies, which, in the first place, should be totally safe from lead and other hazardous substances,” Dizon said.

The group reminded parents “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe” as per the WHO. 

The group on Thursday went to Divisoria, Manila to check if the banned water color set has been taken off the store shelves following the FDA Advisory.   

“We managed to buy MPC Classique Water Colors from a store selling school supplies, indicating the need to publicize further and exact compliance to the FDA Advisory ,” reported Dizon.

“It’s important the product is withdrawn from wholesalers and retailers without delay by the company that placed the product on the market,” he said.   

This is the third time that that the FDA has banned water coloring materials since 2014.

The FDA banned Artex Fine Water Colors in 2014, upon notification by the EcoWaste Coalition, due to its high lead content reaching up to 5,089 ppm as per the agency's laboratory analysis.

The graphic designs of Artex Fine Water Colors and MPC Classique Water Colors bear some striking similarities, the group noted.

On August 31 this year, the FDA banned Xiao Yiren Water Color as well as Ultra Colours Jumbo Crayons for containing lead above the regulatory limit of 90 ppm.



http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisori es-2/cosmetic-2/466281-fda-adv isory-2017-272

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisori es-2/cosmetic-2/458304-fda-adv isory-no-2017-260

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisori es-2/cosmetic-2/162436-fda-adv isory-2014-044   

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Cebu Toy Ukuleles Adorned with Banned Lead Paint

 Toy ukuleles decorated with lead-containing paints.

Toy ukuleles that screened negative for lead content.

Some toy ukuleles, a popular bring-home gift for kids from Cebu, were found to contain lead, a chemical ingredient in some paints that can harm children’s health and development.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit toxics watch group based in Quezon City, made the revelation after buying last week five toy ukuleles worth P150 to P200 each from a souvenir shop in Lapu-Lapu City.

The ukuleles were subsequently screened for lead using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.

“Lead exposure is especially harmful to children.  This is why lead paint is not allowed in the production of children’s toys and related products that may expose them to this dangerous chemical,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

According to the World Health Organization, “young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system.”

Among the health problems attributed to lead exposure include decreased intelligence, learning difficulties, reduced school performance, hearing loss, developmental delays, aggression and other behavioral issues.

As per XRF screening, two of the five samples were decorated with lead-containing paints above the limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

The yellow paint used on a mango-shaped ukulele had 12,300 ppm of lead, while the pink paint on the other ukulele had 2,432 ppm of lead. 

“The other three painted ukuleles were found negative for lead content, a good proof that toys can be embellished with paints that will not pose lead hazards to innocent children,” Dizon pointed out.  

The EcoWaste Coalition also analyzed toy ukuleles from Cebu in  2014 and 2013.  In 2014, 10 ukuleles were found to contain lead up to 26,100 ppm.  In 2013, the group detected lead up to 13,900 ppm in six samples.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24), or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, strictly prohibits the use of lead in the manufacture of toys.

The Environmental Management Bureau through Memorandum Circular 2016-010 clarified “the manufacture, processing, sale, distribution, and use of paints with more than 90 ppm of lead and lead compounds in the production of toys and related products shall be prohibited after December 31, 2016.”



http://www.who.int/ mediacentre/factsheets/fs379/ en/

http://server2.denr.gov.ph/ uploads/rmdd/dao-2013-24.pdf Portals/40/MC%202016-010.pdf

04 October 2017

Cebuanos Warned vs Mercury-Contaminated Skin Whitening Creams (Mayor Tommy Osmeña Urged to Go After Peddlers of Poison Cosmetics)

A Quezon City-based watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes cautioned Cebuanos seeking fairer skin complexion to watch out for cosmetics that may do more harm than lighten the skin.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a public interest group, issued the warning after purchasing last week 11 unregistered skin whitening cosmetics for P60 to P130 each from various retail outlets in Cebu City.

Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, explained that the test buys conducted were part of the group’s advocacy to halt the illegal trade of dangerous cosmetics containing mercury, a highly toxic chemical that is harmful to public health and the environment.

“Our latest test buys provide fresh evidence that the illegal sale of mercury-laden skin whitening products has not ceased in Cebu, and that law enforcement action is needed to put an end to this deplorable trade of poison cosmetics,” he said. 

Seven of the 11 skin whitening cosmetics in Cebu --- all bearing the Jiaoli and S’Zitang brands --- were found to contain high concentrations of mercury above the trace amount limit of 1 part per million (ppm) as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Jiaoli Miraculous Cream and S’Zitang, both banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2010, were found to be laced with mercury amounting to  2,809 and 2,739 ppm, respectively.

According to the FDA, “cosmetic products containing such impurities/contaminants that are way beyond the allowable limit clearly pose imminent danger or injury to the consuming public.”

“The adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring,” the agency said.

“Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy. The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA warned.

Dizon also reported that the rest of the samples purchased screened negative for mercury.

However, these items may still pose health risks to users as the products lack the required authorization from the FDA in the form of in the form of cosmetic product notification and would be illegal to offer for sale in the market.

Among these non-notified products were Erna Whitening Cream, Cai Mei Sheep Placenta Whitening Foundation Cream, Cai Mei Sheep Placenta Anti-Wrinkle Cream and Cai Mei Sheep Placenta Moisturizing Cream.

Non-notified cosmetics were not subjected to the necessary verification procedures by the FDA and their quality and safety cannot be ascertained.

In light of its findings, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the local government, health and police authorities of Cebu City to go after the distributors and dealers of contraband cosmetics.

“To protect the public health, especially the health of Cebu’s women consumers, we urge Mayor Tommy Osmeña to order the confiscation of mercury-laden skin whiteners and to prosecute the peddlers of such poison cosmetics,” the EcoWaste Coalition said. 



Mercury Content of Seven Jiaoli and S’Zitang Skin Whitening Products Bought from Cebu Retailers as Screened by the EcoWaste Coalition Using an XRF Device:

1. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream (2,809ppm)
2. S'zitang (Gold Container) (2,739ppm)
3. Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set (2,643ppm)
4. Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream (2,265ppm)
5. S'Zitang 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set  (2,782ppm)
6. S’Zitang 7 Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set  (1,718ppm)
7. Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set (1,439ppm)

02 October 2017

Toxics Watchdog Bares Illegal Sale in Davao City of Banned Mercury-Tainted Skin Whitening Cosmetics

A non-profit watch group on harmful chemicals in products and wastes has revealed the sale in Davao City of imported skin whitening cosmetics banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing mercury, a highly toxic substance.

The EcoWaste Coalition today disclosed it was able to purchase 14 non-notified skin lightening creams costing P50 to P150 each from retailers in Davao City.  

All the 14 items analyzed by the EcoWaste Coalition for mercury are contraband cosmetics that have not gone through and passed the quality and safety verification of the FDA.

Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, revealed that he bought the items last week from beauty and herbal product stores located at Bankerohan and DCLA Uyanguren.

“We deplore the illegal sale of mercury-loaded cosmetics that are supposed to lighten the skin and remove age spots, blotches, freckles and wrinkles.  We request Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and DCPO Director PSSupt Alexander Tagum to mobilize the resources at their disposal to protect Dabawenyos from being duped into buying these poison cosmetics,” he said. 

Upon returning to Quezon City where the EcoWaste Coalition is based, the items were screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

XRF screening results indicate high concentrations of mercury up to 41,400 parts per million (ppm) in 11 items in violation of the maximum allowable limit of 1 ppm under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Yudantang  10-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream from Taiwan topped the list with 41,400 ppm, followed by S’Zitang 10-Day Whitening & Spot Day Night Set (2,803 ppm), Jaoli Miraculous Cream (2,392 ppm), Jiaoli Speckle Dispelling and Whitening Cream (1,287 ppm), Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set (2,468 ppm), S’Zitang Yang Bai Su (1,467 ppm), and S’Zitang 7-Day Specific Whitening & Spot AB Set (2,660 ppm).

Ansina Whitening Sunblocking Cream and Erna, screened negative for mercury but are still illegal to sell for lacking the required cosmetic product notification as per FDA Advisories. Another product, a non-notified S'Zitang Perfect Magic Peeling Cream (Snail & Papaya), also screened negative for mercury.  

The 9th ASEAN Cosmetic Committee endorsed the 1 ppm limit for mercury  contamination in cosmetics in 2007, while the US FDA banned cosmetics with over 1 ppm trace amount of mercury way back in 1973, Dizon said. 

The global community through the Minamata Convention on Mercury has agreed to phase out by 2020 skin lightening cosmetics with mercury above 1 ppm.

According to the World Heath Organization, “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.” 

“Mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections,” the WHO warned.

The WHO has also warned that mercury in skin lightening products and other cosmetics is subsequently disposed into wastewater contaminating the marine ecosystems.

“The mercury (from cosmetics) then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish,” the WHO explained.

“Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children,” it said. 


http://www.who.int/ipcs/assess ment/public_health/mercury_fly er.pdf
http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisori es-2/cosmetic-2/423004-fda-adv isory-no-2017-065

28 September 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Quezon Service Cross for Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

An environmental health organization has thrown its support behind a proposal urging President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to confer the country’s premier recognition to the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who passed away on September 29 last year.

In a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed its support to Senate Resolutions 508 and 517 filed by Senators Grace Poe and Sonny Angara urging Duterte to nominate the late senator for conferment of the Quezon Service Cross, “the highest national recognition of outstanding civilian service in the gift of the Republic.”

“We join the senators in requesting President Duterte to bestow the award to Senator Santiago for the exemplary service she rendered as a judge, government official and legislator. Conferring the nation’s highest award to the late senator will be a recognition, too, for all women in public service as agents for change,” said Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition. 

To date, only five Filipinos --- all men --- have received the Quezon Service Cross since it was created in 1946, namely, Carlos P. Romulo (1951), Emilio Aguinaldo (1956), Ramon Magsaysay (1957), Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. (2004) and Jesse M. Robredo (2012). 

Beyond this award, the EcoWaste Coalition urged members of the 17th Congress to honor Senator Santiago by resurrecting key environmental and health bills she filed in the 16th Congress that were not consummated.

In line with her “Pledge to Act on Toxic Chemicals to Protect Filipino Women and Children,” Senator Santiago filed at least 75 bills and resolutions in the 15th and 16th Congress addressing important chemical, product and waste issues.

Among the major bills filed by Senator Santiago that the EcoWaste Coalition would like to see revived, debated and enacted are the proposed “Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry Act,” “Total Ban on Single-Use Carryout Plastic Bags Act,” “Toxic Packaging Prevention Act,” “BPA in Baby Products Prohibition Act,” “Paint Hazard Reduction Act,” “Computer Recovery and Collection Act,“ and the “Microbeads-Free Water Act.”   

“The passage of the PRTR bill sponsored by Senator Santiago would have resulted to the establishment of a publicly accessible database that will inform communities what chemicals or pollutants are being discharged by facilities or industries, where and  how much.  Enacting such law will affirm and uphold the public’s right to know,” said campaigner Abigail Aguilar of Greenpeace, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition.  

PRTRs are catalogues or registries of potentially harmful pollutant releases or transfers to the environment from a variety of sources, including information on the nature and quantity of such releases and transfers to the air, water and soil as well as about wastes transported to treatment and disposal sites, Greenpeace explained. 

“It will be a waste if Senator Santiago’s environmental and health legislative measures like the PRTR are simply kept in the archives,” Sison said.      

Sison also recalled that Senator Santiago twice filed a resolution calling for a Senate inquiry on the illegal trash imports from Canada “to protect the country from becoming a global dump for hazardous wastes.”


Link to the “Pledge to Act on Toxic Chemicals to Protect Filipino Women and Children” signed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago:

Links to some of the bills filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago in the 16th Congress:

Philippine Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry Act

Total Ban on Singe-Use Carryout Plastic Bags Act

Microbeads-Free Water Act
Toxic Packaging Prevention Act

Paint Hazard Reduction Act

BPA in Baby Products Prohibition Act

Mandating Employee and Patient Notifications of Environmental, Health and Safety Hazards in Hospitals Act

Groups Ask Mayor Osmeña to Abandon Garbage Incineration Plan

A multisectoral forum today urged Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña to scrap his plan to erect a waste incineration facility at the Inayawan landfill site insisting it is a false solution to the city’s trash problem.
The forum led by the EcoWaste Coalition in collaboration with its member groups in Cebu was held at the main campus of the University of San Jose-Recoletos to shed light on waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration schemes touted as a “green” solution by technology vendors and proponents.

The incineration plan does not sit well with environmental, health and labor groups because it runs contrary to the waste management hierarchy of strategies that prioritizes waste prevention and reduction as the most environmentally preferred option over waste disposal such as through incineration.

“Burning waste contravenes Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which provides for the adoption of best environmental practices in managing discards excluding incineration.  It will be wrong to think Cebu’s garbage problem will fade away by burning it.  In fact, incineration only converts a solid waste into a more hazardous type of wastes and pollutants that can pose serious risks to public health and the environment,” said Atty. Lisa Osorio of the Cebu-based Philippine Earth Justice Center.

“Gasification, plasma arc and pyrolysis waste-to-energy technologies that require waste as input to operate and make a profit will encourage more consumption of materials, more use of energy, and the generation of more waste,” stated speaker Dr. Jorge Emmanuel. 

 DOST Balik Scientist and an adjunct professor at Silliman University, Emmanuel is especially concerned that incinerators will not meet increasing stringent dioxin standards due to cost, lack of enforcement mechanisms, and the inability to effectively monitor and test emissions, adding there is no such thing as “clean incineration.”

He clarified that “e
ven with pollution control devices, the toxic pollutants will not disappear; they are concentrated into other media that have to be treated as hazardous waste. Importantly, ash from incinerators is toxic, heavily contaminated with dioxins and leachable metals, and under the Stockholm Convention Best Available Techniques/Best Environmental Practices (BAT/BEP) guidelines, ash requires special land disposal as hazardous waste.” 

Lea Guerrero, Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, said: “Waste-to-energy incineration will be a burden, not a boon, to Filipinos. It is the most harmful, most expensive, most polluting, most energy intensive and most inefficient way to generate electricity. Countries in the developed world are already shifting away from incineration and are now pursuing Zero Waste approaches.
The Philippines must leapfrog to Zero Waste and leave incineration behind.”

t will be reckless to construct, operate and maintain incinerators that will lock our cities into decades of trash incineration when environmentally-sound, job-creating and least-costly waste management options, including formalizing the informal waste sector, remain untapped,” concluded Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.


Cebu’s Incinerator Plan Draws Flak from Informal Waste Workers

The proposed construction of a waste incinerator at the Inayawan landfill site as announced by Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña has drawn flak from informal recyclers and environmentalists who assert that burning waste will hurt recycling jobs and harm ecosystems, aside from putting the health of communities at risk.  

At a workshop co-organized by the  Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippine Earth Justice Center and Sanlakas of Cebu and  the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition, 120 participants, including 80 members of the informal waste sector (IWS) expressed concern over the adverse impacts of incinerating discards to their livelihood the environment, and public health.

“Many individuals, families and small businesses depend on the recovery of recyclable materials to meet our basic needs.  The waste incinerator will compete for the same materials such as paper, corrugated box, plastic and other recyclables that we collect, sort and sell,” said Aniceta Abadejao of the Gagmayng Kristohanong Katilingban – Inayawan.

“What will happen to us if the recyclable materials, our source of livelihood, are taken away from us?   Waste incineration will rob us of our only source of income and livelihood.  Is this how the city government plan to repay us for our environmental service?” she pointed out.

Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, agreed stressing “it will be unacceptable to deny informal waste workers of useful materials for recycling-based jobs and livelihoods, which are beneficial for the climate and environment.  Instead of making life more difficult for them, the authorities should find ways and means to integrate the IWS as key partner in the implementation of the city’s waste management plan. ”

According to Lea Guerrero, Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, “recycling and other zero waste practices conserve finite natural resources, avoid fossil fuel extraction and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the use of virgin materials and from waste disposal activities.”

In contrast, waste incineration destroys resources and creates additional need to extract more of the earth’s resources. It also takes away jobs and abets climate change. Incineration is also a major source of dioxins and furans, which are recognized as cancer-causing toxic emissions.

To call attention to their plight, the informal waste workers, joined by their allies from various civil society groups, marched to the Cebu City Hall right after the workshop to present their opposition to the proposed incineration facility.

Through a petition, they told Mayor Osmeña that resorting to waste incineration will not solve Cebu City’s enormous garbage production.

“We urge Mayor Osmeña to call off his plan to set up an incinerator and to focus on comprehensive people-driven waste prevention and reduction programs, including mandatory waste segregation at source, intensive recycling and composting and inclusion of the IWS,” the groups said.

According to a UN-supported study, Cebu City generates about 500 ton of solid waste per day or approximately 182,500 tons per year with average daily waste generation per capita at 500 grams.




25 September 2017

Groups Appeal: Davao City Should Junk Waste Incineration, Take On the Zero Waste Solution

Technologies that burn discards, destroy resources, weaken recycling and create extremely toxic emissions should not be employed if Davao City wants a greener and sustainable future for all.

This is the message that a citizens’ forum co-organized by the Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM) and the EcoWaste Coalition would like to resonate among the city’s policy makers and planners.  The former is a network of civil organizations in Davao City advocating for a greener and sustainable home for all Dabawenyos, while the latter is an environmental health coalition based in Quezon City.  The forum was held at the Ateneo de Davao University.

Instead of incinerating its waste, estimated at 570-600 metric tons daily, Davao City will be better off if proven approaches in preventing and reducing trash are put in force, the groups said.

“The 600-ton waste-to-energy incineration plant being mulled by the city government has to be carefully assessed against the hierarchy of waste management options that puts reduction of waste at source as the top choice,” said Mylai Santos, Director, Ecoteneo, a member of the SDM’s waste management cluster.  

“The city’s landfill has overloaded its capacity because we have failed to ensure that the generation of waste is minimized through mandatory segregation at source and other Zero Waste solutions stipulated in national and local laws,” Santos said.

Both the Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and Ordinance 0361-10, or the Davao City Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of 2009, provide for the compulsory sorting of discards at source by all waste generators, as well as the establishment of barangay-based materials recovery facilities (MRFs).
According to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, only 17 of Davao City’s 112 barangays have MRFs such as those in Barangay Cabantian, Catalunan Grande, Hizon, Mahayag and Mintal.

Speaking at the forum, Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a DOST Balik Scientist and adjunct Professor at Silliman University, said: “Gasification, plasma arc and pyrolysis waste-to-energy technologies that require waste as input to operate and make a profit will encourage more consumption of materials, more use of energy, and the generation of more waste.” 

Emmanuel is especially concerned that incinerators will not meet increasing stringent dioxin standards due to cost, lack of enforcement mechanisms, and the inability to effectively monitor and test emissions, adding there is no such thing as “clean incineration.”

Even with pollution control devices, the toxic pollutants will not disappear; they are concentrated into other media that have to be treated as hazardous waste. Importantly, ash from incinerators is toxic, heavily contaminated with dioxins and leachable metals, and under the Stockholm Convention Best Available Techniques/Best Environmental Practices (BAT/BEP) guidelines, ash requires special land disposal as hazardous waste,” he explained.

Lora Mc-ren Abengoza, Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, warned “waste incineration will burn precious recyclable and compostable resources,  hurt recycling enterprises and take jobs away from the informal waste sector (IWS), depriving poor households and communities of employment and livelihood opportunities.” 

At last Saturday’s workshop organized by the EcoWaste Coalition in San Pedro College,  participants, including 99 informal recyclers from Davao City, affirmed the need to integrate the IWS in formal waste management toward clean, safe, decent and secure jobs and livelihoods.

For her part, 
Anne Larracas, Managing Director,  Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives – Asia Pacific said: “Waste-to-energy incineration will be a burden, not a boon, to Filipinos. It is the most harmful, most expensive, most polluting, most energy intensive and most inefficient way to generate electricity. Countries in the developed world are already shifting away from incineration and are now pursuing Zero Waste approaches. The Philippines must leapfrog to Zero Waste and leave incineration behind.”


24 September 2017

Davao City’s Informal Waste Workers Seek Safe and Secure Jobs

Informal waste workers of Davao City yesterday affirmed their desire to have safe and secure jobs as partners of the local government in ecological waste management.

At a forum organized by the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition and held at San Pedro College, 115 participants, including 99 members of the informal waste sector (IWS), voiced the need for inclusive programs and services that will address the needs of the IWS.

“We support the aspirations of the IWS in Davao City to be able to work in a less hazardous environment and to have access to secured employment, livelihood and social services, including healthcare,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The presence of concerned government officials at this forum, we hope, will lead to the delivery of beneficial programs and services that the IWS deserves as an undisputed partner of the society in waste resource management and conservation,” she added. 

Present at the forum were Erlinda Javines of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Angelic Paña of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), and Mimia Canja of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region XI.

As defined in the National Framework and Strategy on the Role of the Informal Sector in Waste Management, the IWS includes “individuals, families, groups or small enterprises engaged in the recovery of waste materials either on a full-time or part-time basis with revenue generation as the motivation.”

Itinerant waste buyers, paleros (garbage trucks crew), ‘jumpers’ (those who jump into collection trucks to recover recyclables), waste pickers in dumpsites and communal waste collection points, informal waste collectors, waste reclaimers and small junkshop dealers constitute the IWS.

According to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, “the Framework Plan hopes to empower the IWS that is recognized as a partner of the public and private institutions, organizations and corporations in the promotion and implementation of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) of solid waste management in the Philippines with the end in view of alleviating poverty.”

“The need to protect the IWS from being exposed to hazardous substances and pathogens should induce the city authorities and all waste generators to ensure that discards are properly segregated at source,” noted Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, as well as Ordinance 0361-10, or the Davao City Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of 2009, require the mandatory segregation of waste at the point of generation.

The group likewise reiterated that waste disposal projects such as the planned waste incinerator in Davao City should be reconsidered as this will burn resources that can be reused, recycled or composted and subsequently steal valuable jobs from marginalized groups such as the IWS.



23 September 2017

Groups Raise the Alarm over Continued Sale of Dangerous Skin Whitening Creams Laced with Mercury (Government Urged to Go After Importers, Distributors and Retailers of Toxic Cosmetics)

Toxic mercury taints these imported skin whitening creams from China, Malaysia, Pakistan and Taiwan that are illegally sold in some cosmetic and Chinese medicine stores in the Philippines.

Chemical safety and consumer protection groups today revealed the unabashed trade of mercury-containing skin whitening products despite being illegal to import, distribute and sell.

The EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer, Inc. made the exposé ahead of the first Conference of Parties (COP1) to the Minamata Convention on Mercury on September 24 to 29 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Minamata Convention, an international treaty, aims “to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic releases of mercury and mercury compounds.”  Among other things, it targets the phase-out of skin lightening products with mercury above one part per million (ppm).

“Contraband cosmetics containing mercury continue to be sold in several beauty product and Chinese medicine stores with their importers, distributors and retailers brazenly doing it with impunity.  Some retailers even give official receipts for illegal purchases,” observed Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“While the Minamata Convention sets a 2020 phase-out date for mercury-containing skin lightening creams and soaps, Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, ban mercury in excess of 1 ppm under the heavy metal limits of the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive that were adopted in 2007,” he said.

To put an end to the illegal trade of mercury tainted cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the government to crack down on smugglers through effective law enforcement activities.

Laban Konsyumer, Inc. echoed the EcoWaste Coalition’s call stressing the right of consumers to be protected against hazards to health and safety as guaranteed by the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
“We urge the authorities to prosecute those behind the illicit trade of mercury-containing skin whiteners and other cosmetics without the prerequisite product notifications.  Punishing the culprits to the fullest extent of Republic Act 9711 will send a strong message that our country is serious about protecting our consumers against mercury exposure via cosmetic use,” said Atty. Victorio Dimagiba, President of Laban Konsyumer, Inc.

RA 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act, states that any person who violates the law shall, upon conviction, suffer the penalty of imprisonment from one to not more than 10 years or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P500,000.  Stiffer penalties and fines await erring manufacturers, importers or distributors.

To draw attention to the continued proliferation of mercury-laden skin lightening products in the market,  the EcoWaste Coalition conducted test buys from September 16-21 covering 12 cities in Metro Manila and the provinces of Batangas, Bulacan, Laguna, Pampanga and Rizal. 

The group bought the non-notified imported skin whitening products from Chinese drugstores and  beauty product shops in Angeles, Antipolo, Biñan, Mabalacat, Malolos, Manila, Parañaque, Pasay, Quezon, San Jose del Monte, San Pedro and Tanauan Cities

Out of 35 products procured for P60 to P240 each and screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence device, 33 were found to contain mercury up to 46,000 ppm.

Among the samples that were found to contain over 5,000 ppm of mercury were Yudantang 6-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream (with 46,000 ppm), Yudantang  10-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream (38,400 ppm), Parley Herbal Beauty Cream with Avocado (16,200 ppm), Parley Beauty Cream (15,100 ppm), Golden Pearl Beauty Cream (10,500 ppm), Collagen Plus VitE Day & Night Cream (7,662 ppm) and Erna Whitening Cream (5,107 ppm). 

Several variants of Jiaoli and S’Zitang, the two most commonly available imported skin whitening creams, were found to contain mercury ranging from 591 to 4,719 ppm.

Both the EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer appealed to the governments of China, Taiwan, Pakistan and others where the mercury-containing cosmetic imports are coming from to collaborate with the Philippine authorities to halt the illegal trade.

The country’s ratification of the Minamata Convention should help in promoting closer collaboration between governments in enforcing mercury control measures, including the phase-out of mercury-added products, the groups said.

According to the FDA, “mercury salts in cosmetic products inhibit the formation of melamin in the skin, resulting in a lighter skin tone.”

“There have been cases of adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products, such as kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring,” it warned.

“The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the agency further warned.

The FDA has banned over135 mercury-containing skin lightening creams since 2010, including  80 brands that were discovered by the EcoWaste Coalition through its periodic market monitoring and chemicals in product analysis.

In 2015, the EcoWaste Coalition released the report “Beauty and the Risk,” co-published with IPEN (a global NGO working for safe chemicals policies and practices) showing the prevalence of mercury-tainted contraband skin whitening creams in the Philippines.





”Beauty and the Risk (A Civil Society Investigation on the Prevalence of Mercury-Laden

Skin Whitening Creams in 50 Cities in the Philippines),” EcoWaste Coalition/IPEN, 2015