February 29, 2024

Freedom against toxic waste on Int’l Human Rights Day

Environmental watchdog group BAN Toxics urged the government to implement better action plans and solutions for a toxics-free and wastes-free Philippines. The group made the call in time for the commemoration of International Human Rights Day.

“A safe and healthy environment free from toxic chemicals and wastes is a basic human right everyone should be entitled to. The government needs to take a stronger stance to address plastic, waste, and chemical pollution in the Philippines,” said Reynaldo San Juan Jr., executive director of BAN Toxics.

In President Ferdinand Marcos’ inauguration speech last June 30, he declared to solve the country’s problem with plastic pollution and climate change. While BAN Toxics welcomed this announcement, the group urged the government to take a stronger stance towards addressing the plastic and wastes crises by implementing measures for the total ban of single-use plastics to reduce waste production and pollution.

Plastic pollution is one of the Philippines’ greatest waste problems. In 2015, the country produced 2.7 million tons of plastic waste per year, making it the world’s third largest producer of plastic waste.[1] According to a 2018 waste management practices study, despite the Philippines’ high garbage collection rates, the country still has issues with proper waste disposal.[2]

The organization also highlighted the need for the government to fast track the ratification of Basel Ban Amendment to protect the environment, public health, and economy from the adverse effects of illegal toxic and hazardous waste dumping.

The Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes Management and Disposal was established to protect human health as well as the environment from the harmful effects of improper hazardous waste management worldwide.

The Basel Ban Amendment prohibits member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union (EU), and Liechtenstein from exporting hazardous wastes to developing nations, whether or not for recycling. The objective of the Ban Amendment is to protect both human health and the global environment from the negative effects of improper hazardous waste management.

As of December 2022, the Philippines has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment despite being a Signatory to the Basel Convention since 1989.

To protect children from exposure to toxic chemicals, the group appealed to lawmakers to pass the “Safe and Non-Hazardous Children’s Products Act” which sought to regulate the importation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of children’s products containing hazardous chemicals, while providing penalties for violations, to protect and promote children’s right to health.[3]

“Our children deserve to grow up in a community where there is no risk of exposure to toxic chemicals and wastes. We must all work harder to make sure that the environment we pass on to the next generation is toxics-free and wastes-free,” BAN Toxics added.