EcoWaste Coalition Pushes Environmentally-Sound Recycling of Waste Lamps as Nation Observes Consumer Welfare Month

The EcoWaste Coalition, a public interest network promoting zero
waste and chemical safety, appealed to all consumers of energy-efficient but
mercury-containing fluorescent lamps to properly
manage waste lamps to reduce
risk to public health and the environment.

The group called for the
environmentally-sound recycling of waste lamps as the country marks the
Consumer Welfare Month held every October pursuant to Presidential
Proclamation No. 1098. The Department of Energy (DOE) chairs this year’s
celebration focusing on the theme “Sapat na Impormasyon: Susi sa Wastong
Paggamit ng Enerhiya.”

“Improper disposal of waste lamps will cause the
glass tubing to break and release mercury vapor, exposing waste workers and
the general public to mercury, a potent neurotoxin, which can endanger
public health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the
EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

As per the United Nations
Environment Programme, “when products containing mercury are discarded into
the general waste stream, the mercury pollutes the environment – in
waterways, wetlands, and the air – and endangers people both locally and

In March this year, the group released a report entitled “The
Toxic Silence of the Lamps” showing how waste lamps are indiscriminately
disposed of in Metro Manila’s 17 local government units where busted or spent
lamps are by and large discarded as ordinary trash, often dumped on the
sidewalk, vacant lots and waterways.

As it pushed for the safe
disposal of waste lamps, the EcoWaste Coalition called upon concerned
stakeholders to support DOE’s goal to get the envisaged Lamp Waste Management Facility
(LWMF) up and running by December 2014.

The LWMF, which the DOE intends
to turn over to the lighting industry or to a local government unit, will
receive waste lamps “to recover mercury and other by-products (to) avert
residual mercury from entering the food chain through landfill leaching into
ground water.”

“The effective operation of the LWMF will be in step with
the country’s commitment to implement the Minamata Convention on Mercury,
which recognizes the need for action to minimize and eliminate mercury
emissions and releases to safeguard human health and the environment,” Dizon

The treaty which Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje signed in
October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan on behalf of the government requires parties
to take measures to ensure the environmentally-sound management of
mercury waste.

As the DOE scouts for an eligible operator of the LWMF
from the private or public sector, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the
government, the industry and the civil society to undertake systematic
measures to ensure the safe collection, storage and recycling of waste

Such measures should include extensive massive public
information, waste workers’ education, establishment of drop-off points for
waste lamps, provision of incentives to encourage proper disposal, and safe
and secure storage of collected waste lamps for non-polluting recycling,
Dizon said.