Manila City Council Takes a Stand vs Unsafe Destruction of Video Karera TVs (Councilors’ action triggered by EcoWaste Coalition’s discovery of lead-containing TV fragments in Bonifacio Shrine)

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog, lauded Manila lawmakers as the City Council “calls for an end to the destruction of video karera (VK) television sets with mallets or sledgehammers.”

Through a resolution, the Councilors pressed the city government to “adhere to the environmentally-sound management of electronic waste, including unwanted TVs, as prescribed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the EcoWaste Coalition.”

“The confiscated VK TV sets should be sent to government-registered recyclers of electronic waste, where the same can be disassembled in controlled conditions to reduce toxic harm to workers, community health and environment,”the resolution said.

Principal authors of the said resolution include Councilors Numero Lim, Jocelyn Dawis-Asuncion, Rafael Borromeo, Ernesto Dionisio, Jr., Ma. Asuncion Fugoso, Richard Ibay, Cristina Isip, Ernesto Isip, Jr., Moises Lim, Edward Maceda, Ramon Morales, John Marvin Nieto, Erick Ian Nieva, Robert Ortega Jr., Jocelyn Quintos, Elizabeth Rivera, Ramon Robles, Edward Tan, Luciano Veloso, Luis Uy, Raymundo Yupangco, Salvador Lacuna, Eunice Ann Denice Castro, Majority Floor Leader Ma. Sheilah Lacuna-Pangan and President Pro-Tempore and Acting Presiding Officer Marlon Lacson.

“Unwanted TVs should be properly and safely handled to protect the public health and the environment. Not smashed, not dumped, not burned,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, adding that “other local government units should their cue from Manila’s action and make TV smashing a thing of the past.”
Discarded TVs and other waste electronics are classified as “special waste” under Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and must be managed as hazardous waste, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

According to the group, TV sets, particularly the old analog type used for video karera, are made up of various chemicals of concern, including huge quantities of lead in the cathode ray tubes (CRTs), also known as the picture tube or the video display component of a TV.

Aside from lead, TV sets contain a host of other chemicals of concern, including brominated flame retardants, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper and mercury.

“Smashing TV units causes lead and other harmful chemicals to be diffused into surroundings and thus posing risk to public health, including city officials and employees, waste workers and even members of the media who cover the destruction of the TVs, as well as commuters and students who pass by the area,” Dizon explained.

To minimize toxic harm, Engr. Geri Geronimo R. Sañez, Chief of the Hazardous Waste Management Section of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), has recommended sending the seized TVs to government-registered treatment/storage/disposal (TSD) facilities for hazardous wastes.

Manila City Council’s action was triggered by the discovery of TV CRT fragments and shards with high concentrations of lead at a park beside the Manila City Hall.

On October 18, 2012, or two days after Mayor Alfredo Lim destroyed 28 video carera machines at the Kartilya side of the Bonifacio Shrine, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol went to the park and found CRT fragments and shards in the area.

Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemicals analyzer, the group detected lead up to 100, 000 parts per million (ppm) in some of CRT fragments and shards tested.