Colorful banderitas (buntings) adorning the
streets of Tondo in celebration of the upcoming feast of Santo Niño were found
to contain lead, a highly toxic chemical.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, made the discovery
after screening samples of plastic buntings that are now hanging in the
streets of Albuquerque, Asuncion, Juan Luna, Lakandula, Moriones, Padre
Herrera, Padre Rada and Raxa Matanda.
Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, six of the 10 samples of blue, green,
orange, red and yellow polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic buntings were found to
contain lead in the range of 120 to 6,982 parts per million (ppm).
Aside from having the highest lead levels, the three samples of yellow buntings
also registered with highest concentrations of arsenic and chromium.
“It’s high time for the church and the government to critically look at the
unregulated practice of hanging fiesta buntings as these accessories do not
only add to the volume but also to the toxicity of garbage generated from our
community festivities,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste
“Why adorn the sky with toxic banderitas that will ultimately be disposed of in
dumpsites where these are burned or buried, dispersing their lead and other
chemical components and causing environmental harm?” she asked.
“In addition, the PVC buntings when burned will create toxic byproducts called
dioxins that pose a cancer hazard and a long list of severe reproductive and
developmental problems,” she said.
The buntings are often made out of disposable plastic bags, cups and strips,
packaging scraps and product advertisements that go straight to the dumps after
the celebrations, the group observed.
“Barangay leaders and residents should take their cue from the Santo Niño de
Tondo Parish, which opted for reusable cloth drapes instead of disposable
buntings to decorate the church façade for the feast,” Vergara said.
“By avoiding the notorious wastefulness of our community festivities, the
volume of trash will surely shrink and cut the city expense for costly garbage
disposal,” she said.
As per report of the Commission on Audit, the city of Manila spent over P512
million for garbage collection in 2012.
During their visit to Tondo yesterday, the EcoWaste Coalition found trash heaps
in the corner of Padre Hererra and Ylaya Sts. and in the center island of
The group’s Basura Patroller also found a estero in Recto Ave. near Juan Luna
St. clogged with Styrofoam garbage.
“Instead of spending for disposable banderitas and adding to Manila’s garbage
woes, resources are better used to support the public information drive for
waste prevention and reductin. Both the Holy Child and Mother Earth will
surely find this pleasing,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.