PH wins Future Policy Award for banning lead in all paints

A groundbreaking Chemical Control Order (CCO) promulgated by the Government of the Philippines banning lead in the manufacture of all paints to prevent children’s and workers’ exposure to this toxic chemical was adjudged one of the five winners for this year’s Future Policy Award (FPA), also known as the “Oscar on best policies.” 

Other awardees are from Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Sweden.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu thanked the World Future Council (WFC) for the recognition. “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.  “Our drive to ensure safer lead-free paint products does not end with the issuance of this policy,” he 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.”

Cimatu 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. “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.”  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, Adviser, EcoWaste Coalition, who also honored NGO colleagues at 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.  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,” said Derrick Tan, President, PAPM.

A case study prepared with inputs from the DENR, PAPM. EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN has identified several factors that contributed to the successful promulgation of the CCO, including “data on lead in solvent-based paints generated by the civil society that provided evidence of a pressing problem requiring immediate and collective action, multi-faceted efforts to raise awareness about the issue, industry-wide shift that created the impetus for all companies to transition to lead-safe paint formulations, and the government’s commitment to a multi-stakeholders’ approach.” 

As to the way forward, the government, industry and civil society stakeholders identified the following as steps to be undertaken to foster the implementation of the CCO: “continuous compliance monitoring efforts, continuous information, education and communication activities, continuous promotion of paint manufacturers’ voluntary participation in the third-party Lead Safe Paint® Certification program, continuous maximization of opportunities to promote the procurement and use of lead-safe paints, continuous participation in the work of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint.”

“Every day, our rights are violated by the exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution. Especially children are disproportionally affected,” said Alexandra Wandel, Executive Director, WFC. “For the sake of current and future generations, it is absolutely critical that stakeholders make the protection from hazardous chemicals a priority. The Philippines and the other winning policies show the way forward and are an inspiration for policymakers worldwide.”

Since 2010, the most impactful policies tackling humankind’s most pressing challenges are celebrated with the Future Policy Award, the first and only award that recognizes policies for the benefit of present and future generations on an international level.  For this year, the FPA is dedicated to the most effective policy solutions, such as those regulating lead in paints, which minimize the adverse effects of harmful chemicals on the environment and human health.    

Other lead paint-related policies nominated for the prestigious award include those from Ethiopia (which made it to the shortlist), Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Tanzania, Uruguay, USA (New York) and Zambia, as well as the Model Law and Guidance for Regulating Lead Paint developed by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint.

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

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