'Oscar' moment: DENR directive vs lead content in paints bags Future Policy Award

Published June 29, 2021, 7:25 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Philippines has been named as one of the five winners of the 2021 Future Policy Award (FPA), which is known as the “Oscar on best policies.”

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu (Screengrab from pre-recorded speech)

The victory is in connection with a groundbreaking Chemical Control Order (CCO) promulgated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) banning lead in the manufacture of all paints to prevent children’s and workers’ exposure to the toxic chemical.

It was late last month when the World Future Council (WFC) shortlisted the DENR policy from a total of 55 nominated policies from 36 countries.

This move was likened to an “Oscar nomination” in the realm of environmental sustainability policies. And now, the Philippines has won, along with Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Sweden.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu thanked the WFC for the recognition in a pre-recorded message. “This will inspire us to further strengthen the implementation of our chemical control policy and to develop other policies to protect human health and the environment,” he said.

Earning the FPA for the Philippines is DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, also known as the CCO for Lead and Lead Compounds. The directive bans the use of lead in the production of paints and other processes, including the manufacture of toys, school supplies, cosmetics, and food contact packaging materials.

A high-level, virtual award ceremony will be held on July 6 to celebrate the winning policies of the 2021 FPA.

“Our drive to ensure safer lead-free paint products does not end with the issuance of this policy,” Cimatu emphasized, citing the government’s continuing efforts to “strengthen monitoring to enhance environmental compliance among stakeholders and thereby ensure a healthy and lead-free environment for our people.”

The DENR chief likewise acknowledged partners from the public and private sectors, including the EcoWaste Coalition and the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM), for their participation in the development and implementation of the trailblazing CCO.

(Photo from EcoWaste Coalition)

“We appreciate the vigilance of non-government organizations like the EcoWaste Coalition in the lead phase-out campaign. We also commend the academe and the PAPM for their support in making our CCO implementable,” he said.

The CCO issued in 2013 imposes a total lead content limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) on all paints and provides for a two-stage phase-out of lead-containing paints, which culminated on December 31, 2019.

“This global recognition affirms the importance of adopting a lead paint law with the most protective lead content limit and crafted through an open and participatory process. Stakeholders’ participation is key to catalyzing an industry-wide switch to the production of all paint types without added lead and to the eventual elimination of lead paint, a major source of lead exposure in children,” said Manny Calonzo, EcoWaste Coalition adviser.

Calonzo also honored colleagues from another non-government organization (NGO)–the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN)–for their invaluable campaign guidance, support, and solidarity for the last 10 years.

“The country’s paint makers have ably demonstrated their capacity to replace lead additives from all brands and products in compliance to the CCO and in pursuit of their corporate social responsibility. It only shows that eliminating lead paint in all categories is an attainable goal,” PAPM President Derrick Tan said.

“Some manufacturers have even voluntarily secured third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification to prove conformance with the strictest 90 ppm limit for lead content in paint,” noted Tan.