MAKE WASTE, mind your waste.

This is in gist is the concept behind the “Expanded Producer Responsibility” clause that forms part of the draft guielines on the management of electric and elctronic equipment waste that Philippine officials and zero-waste group organizations plan to submit to Congress for enactment into law.

In a press advisory, the groups led by the EcoWaste Coalition signified support for strong regulation that will promote the environmentally-sound management (ESM) of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) that is reputedly “the fastest growing waste stream globally.”

In a meeting held June 3 at the request of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Clean Production Committee, officials of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and Innogy Solutions, Inc. discussed the draft technical guidelines on the management of WEEE. About 40 stakeholders from environmental organizations, waste pickers’ groups and junkshop cooperatives attended the meeting.

The discussion focused on “a practical system that will make EEE producers responsible for their products up to the post-consumer stage” but also recognized “the need to explicitly value, integrate, and specify the role of the informal waste sector in such a system,” the press advisory said.

“You make it, you take it. It’s a simple concept whose time has come under this new regulation,” said Abigail Aguilar, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines.

“Greenpeace believes that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is urgently needed in the Philippines to tackle the growing e-waste crisis. Such a policy addresses both waste and pollution problems and makes consumption both more economically and environmentally sustainable,” she said.

Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, said the groups expect the final guidelines “to institutionalize the ecological collection, storage, processing and recycling of e-waste, including used EEEs and scraps, as well as to tighten the rules that will make it difficult for waste smugglers to dump WEEE from overseas in our soil.”

Citing a new study released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on May 18, 2015, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the electronic industry produces up to 41 million tons of e-waste each year, up to 90 percent of which is illegally traded or dumped in developing countries.

This poses, the coalition said. “threats to human health and the environment due to hazardous substances, including heavy metals (cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury, selenium etc.), persistent organic pollutants (polybrominated diphenyl ether, polychlorinated biphenyls) and other chemicals of concern such as phthalates beyond threshold quantities.”

“With the UN itself warning about ‘an unprecedented tsunami of e-waste,’ we find it urgent for our country to plug all legal loopholes to thwart the illegal traffic of such hazardous waste. We hope the WEEE guidelines will be able to contribute to that goal,” Dizon said.

The groups present at the meeting included the Sarilaya Cavite, Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative, November 17 Movement, MdM/Doctors of the World, Lingkod Mamamayan at Lipunan Foundation, Linis Ganda Metro Manila Federation of Environment Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, Cavite Green Coalition. and Ban Toxics.

In 2014 alone, the UNEP study estimated the total amount e-waste that the world churned out to be a monstrous 41.9 million metric tons.

The “intrinsic material value” of the e-waste generated last year is at least 48 billion euro. It further postulated that by 2018, the total volume of e-waste will rise to 50 metric tons.

In 2014, the world’s total waste volume consisted of:

* 1.0 metric tons of lamps,
* 6.3 Mt of screens
* 3.0 Mt of small IT (such as mobile phones, pocket calculators, personal computers, printers, etc.)
* 12.8 Mt of small equipment (such as vacuum cleaners, microwaves, toasters, electric shavers, video cameras, etc.)
* 11.8 Mt of large equipment (such as washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, electric stoves, photovoltaic panels, etc.) and * 7.0 Mt of cooling and freezing equipment (temperature exchange equipment).

The study warned that “the annual supply of toxins from e-waste is 2.2 Mt of lead glass, 0.3 Mt of batteries and 4 kilo tonnes (kt) of ozone-depleting substances (CFCs.”

In addition, “a cocktail of other toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, selenium, among others, which can stream into the environment when not properly managed. Health problems associated with such toxins include impaired mental development, cancer, damage to liver and kidneys, miscarriages, and even death,” the study added.

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