Environmentalist group Ecowaste Coalition on Thursday expressed alarm over the countless use of tarpaulins sprouted all over the metropolis ahead of the official campaign period for the upcoming midterm polls.
“Tarpaulins promoting the names of politicians eyeing elective positions have replaced Christmas decorations that used to adorn our streets. You can see the ubiquitous tarps hanging on electric posts, phone and TV cables, and on trees,” said Ecowaste zero waste campaigner Daniel Alejandre.
“The ‘battle of the tarpaulins’ is more obvious in communities that are set to observe the feast of Sto. Niño this coming Sunday. The whole stretch of Jesus Street in Pandacan, Manila, for example, is dotted with tarpaulins of mostly local candidates that are competing for voters’ attention and support,” said Alejandre.
“Politicians and their supporters have without doubt exploited the loopholes in the election law as regards premature campaigning. The lax regulation has emboldened political wannabes and their supporters to mass produce tarpaulins and to put them up anywhere even in restricted and unsafe places,” he added.
The group also underscored the waste and toxicity issues resulting from the wild use of propaganda tarpaulins.
“Time will come when a tarpaulin has to be removed and disposed of. Even if reused for other purposes, it will still be thrown away after it has worn out or is no longer needed. These tarps, sooner or later, will get buried or burned somewhere,” said Thony Dizon, the group´s chemical safety campaigner.
“Sad to say, tarpaulins are not harmless materials. Mostly made of polyvinyl chloride plastic, tarpaulins may contain toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and phthalates that can leach and contaminate the surroundings,” he explained.
“It’s possible that some of the tarpaulins that we see on the streets might even end up being burned and this will cause far more dangerous pollution,” he warned.
Dizon explained that when chlorinated materials such as PVC plastic are burned, toxic byproducts called dioxins are unintentionally formed and released to the environment.
Dioxins are among the persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, that are targeted for global minimization, if not elimination, under the Stockholm Convention on POPs, an international treaty of which the Philippines is a state party.
To prevent and reduce tarpaulin-related waste and pollution, Ecowaste urged policy makers to draw up a regulation that will control tarpaulin production, use and disposal.
In the absence of such a regulation, the group appealed to all politicians and their backers to moderate their use of tarpaulins, or better yet opt for ecological campaign methods and materials, and to wait until the official campaign period for the upcoming polls has begun.