Wednesday, September 9, 2009

SIGG Bottles Contained BPA Until Aug 2008

This just in (well, a couple of weeks ago): SIGG bottles made before August 2008 contained bisphenol-A (BPA), a compound suspected of being hazardous to humans since the 1930s. (Source.)

Here's the whole story:

You can't make drinking bottles out of untreated aluminum, because it is reactive and toxic, so the shiny, trendy, multi-colored SIGG bottles have always required a liner of some sort. SIGG was never straightforward about the make-up of the liner, saying merely that it was "proprietary" and "non-leaching".

It turns out that until recently the liner contained BPA, which is a plastic of the sort that everyone was trying to avoid by buying metal drinking bottles.

In August 2008 SIGG quietly changed the formula for their liner so that it would not contain BPA. There was no press release. (Imagine: "SIGG: Now with non-toxic liner!")

SIGG's business had benefited massively from a buying public who made a conscious decision to avoid plastic water bottles (whether one-time or reusable, like Nalgene) in favor of (what appeared to be) healthier, more environmentally friendly metal bottles. Folks weren't aware of the fact that SIGG bottles used BPA, because this information was not available.

SIGG made a decision in June 2006 to reformulate their liner so that it would be BPA-free, did the necessary R&D, and in August 2008 stopped selling bottles using the old, BPA-containing lining.

SIGG, to their credit (although under duress, faced with the threat of consumer outrage), has just announced an exchange program through which old bottles can be exchanged for new, BPA-free bottles at no charge.

What are we to think? Should we pile all our old SIGG bottles in the town square, and light them on fire? (Wait, we can't do that because of the pesky BPA lining!)

In their shoes, would you have:
  1. Gotten on the ball and started work on a new liner before 2006? 
  2. Announced what they were doing, and why, when they started work on their new liner?
The business impact of their decision remains to be seen. It is clear, though, that they will lose the faith of a lot of their customers.

Personally, will I buy bottles from SIGG in the future?

No. I prefer Klean Kanteen bottles anyway. Stainless steel is non-reactive and doesn't require a lining. End of story. Makes much more sense to me than making a bottle out of something reactive and toxic like aluminum, and then going to great lengths to figure out how to line it so that it won't be toxic.

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