Watchdog Red-Flags Open Burning of Used Campaign Materials

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, has red-flagged the
hazards of burning discarded election campaign materials in streets and garbage
The group aired the warning as government workers as well as civic groups and
concerned individuals embark on clean-up activities following the elections
last Monday.  
“The open burning of trash, including discarded campaign materials, is
punishable by law,” reminded Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, prohibits the
open burning of solid waste and provides for a fine of P300 to P1,000 or
imprisonment for one to 15 days, or both.
“The law has banned this old-fashioned form of getting rid of trash because it
destroys valuable resources that can be recycled and seriously harms human
health and the environment,” Lucero said.
“Open burning emits harmful chemicals into the air we inhale, including
particulate matter, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants or POPS that
would eventually contaminate the soil, water and even the food we eat,” she
Among these highly toxic pollutants is a class of byproduct chemicals known as
dioxins, which can result from the burning of trash containing chlorine, the
EcoWaste Coaliton said.   
Campaign materials such as paper and plastic campaign banners, posters and
fliers contain varying amounts of chlorine and other chemicals, coatings and
inks, the group pointed out. 
Dioxins are dangerous even at very low levels and have been linked to grave
health problems like cancer, the group warned.
“Recycling the tons of campaign materials instead of burning them will help
prevent the formation and release of dioxins and many other dangerous
pollutants,” Lucero emphasized.
The Stockholm Convention on POPs, which the Philippines ratified
in 2004, gives priority to “the promotion of the recovery and recycling of
waste and of substances generated” to prevent the creation and discharge of
dioxins and other by-product POPs, the EcoWaste Coalition added.
Last Tuesday, the group conducted a clean-up drive in Quezon City and showed how common campaign
materials can be creatively recycled.
For example, paper posters can be used as book and notebook covers, envelopes
and folders, sample ballots can be made into notepads, and paper fans can
become bookmarks and picture frames.
According to the group, plastic tarpaulins can be converted into bags and other
functional items not intended for children’s use or for food contact
applications due to their cadmium and lead content.