Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Group raises warning on electronic waste

ELECTRONIC waste or E-waste dumped in Davao from other countries in the guise of being surplus products is becoming a nuisance to the environment and poses health risks.

Lawyer Richard Gutierrez, executive director of Ban Toxics, said it is an urgent topic that should be given attention, especially for countries like the Philippines, where discarded electronics are exported as second-hand goods.

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"We would like to emphasize on the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment that would strictly determine and regulate the second-hand goods that are coming in our country, and for legislators to follow in making local guidelines to determine parameters on these products," Gutierrez said during the press conference at the Davao Medical School Foundation.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive global environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes.

Gutierrez added that although Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje have expressed their support, Ban Toxics would like to educate the public on the hazardous effects of e-waste that are present in our country.

E-waste contains a cocktail of toxic chemicals that are added to various electronics. These electronics are usually the cheap items found in surplus stores.

Ecowaste Coalition's Project themed Protect has found six to seven cheap toys from bargain centers that contain toxic plastics.

"And with the start of classes, we would like to ask the parents not to use plastic covers for their children books because it is made of polyvinylchloride (PVC) that are damaging to their health," said Rei Panaligan of Ecowaste Coalition.

"Sa paggawa pa lang ng plastic, there are toxins used already and if these materials with PVC are exposed to heat or if they will be burnt, it will emit toxins that are very hazardous," Gutierrez added.

Ban Toxic and Ecowaste Coalition, together with Interface Development Interventions (Idis) and Kinaiyahan Foundation, urged the public and consumers to be mindful of the electronics they buy and the subsequent e-waste they will produce.

Consumers should first research on products that are bio-hazards. A guide to greener electronic can be found in the website of Greenpeace and there are also lists of e-waste collectors at the DENR website.

Purchase electronics that have the RoHS logo, or the Restriction of Hazardous Substance directive, means that these products do not contain mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium nad polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated biphenyl ethers - common toxins found in electronic gadgets.

They also recommend that consumers buy brands that have take back policies or has a good warranty offer, and look for gadgets that have rechargeable rather than disposable batteries.

"The message we are trying to convey is simple, the solution is in our hands," said Lisa Esquillo of Idis.

They also recommend the local government unit, especially the City Environment and Natural Resources, to educate the scavengers and their waste retrieval staff about the ill-effects of e-waste.

"Disposing these e-wastes improperly can be very hazardous to one's health, kaya dapat din nila matutunan ang proper disposal," Gutierrez said.


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