DENR, UNIDO mark 25 years of partnership against environmental pollution

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) recently marked 25 years of successful partnership with the implementation of the Safe Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) and E-Waste Management Project.

“For 25 years, UNIDO's assistance in implementing environmental projects which are geared towards improving the living conditions of our communities and curbing the negative effects of environmental pollution has been very significant,” said DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Atty. Jonas R. Leones during the Project Partner’s Meeting held in Quezon City.

The project aims to protect people’s health and the environment through sound management of PCB and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) in electronic waste or e-waste.

It includes the management of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in waste electrical and electronic equipment, and PCB-contaminated equipment, PCB waste and stockpile from electronic cooperatives.

Other project components are institutional strengthening, capacity-building and awareness-raising, and project monitoring and evaluation.

The lead implementing agency for the project is the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

Leones said that UNIDO, together with the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has helped the country comply with its commitment to international agreements, such as the Rotterdam Convention and the Stockholm Convention.

“UNIDO in the past 10 years has been very visible in the field of chemicals and waste, open burning, dioxin furan projects and PCB-related projects and now even in electronic waste or e-waste and management of POPs related to e-waste,” Leones said.

He added that UNIDO is currently assisting the Philippines in the preparation of a road map for the chemicals and waste component under the Global Environment Facility.

During the event, certificates of recognition were given to project partners Cebu Common Treatment Facility Inc., Integrated Recycling Industries Philippines Inc. and Market! Market under the project’s e-waste component; and to Natural Resources and Development Corp., Development Bank of the Philippines, National Electrification Administration, Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, and the Energy Regulatory Commission for the PCB component.

The UNIDO also turned over the x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and PCB screening equipment to EMB.

PCBs are hazardous and persistent chemicals which are among the priority POPs targeted for worldwide phase-out under the Stockholm Convention on POPs. They travel long distances through air and water and accumulate in the fatty tissues of people and wildlife, can increase cancer risk and suppress the immune system.

In the Philippines, the phase-out on the use of PCB as dielectric fluid on transformers and capacitors, and the ban on its importation started in 2004.

Improper management of e-waste may result in the release of PBDE, which poses serious health threats. ###