Monday, October 5, 2009

Death By Water?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 3:39 PM

One of the more fascinating bad consumer product sagas of recent memory has been that of sports water bottles. That’s as in bottles that don’t contaminate the water that’s put into them.
A little historical background is required. Not that many years ago, Canadian water bottle maker Nalgene came out with a line of what proved to be wildly popular plastic water bottles made from BPA (Bisphenol A).
You know the bottles. Almost every college kid, hiker and backpacker in North America had one. Many were personalized with colorful decals or clipped to one's person by means of a small carabiner.
Seeing this hugely profitable market, backpack-style hydration system maker CamelBak jumped in with their own line of BPA-made bottles.
The market potential for both company's product’s seemed limitless. That was until a scientific study came out showing that bottles made with BPA contained traces of cancer-causing carcinogens.
Oh, oh, the bloom was suddenly off the plastic water bottle business. Not for long. To their credit, both Nalgene and CamelBak changed the plastic used in making their bottles and forged ahead.
Ironically, several months after the initial BPA report and the changes in materials used in plastic water bottles, another study came out declaring that BPA was harmless. Not to worry the BPA horse was out of the barn and there was no looking back.
But there were still many consumers not sure about plastic water bottles not matter what the plastic used to make them. Sensing an opening, into the picture stepped the Swiss company Sigg, best known for their ultra lightweight spun aluminum fuel bottles designed for backpackers and campers. Sigg took the same spun aluminum technology added a synthetic material lining and offered people a true BPA-free, non-plastic water container.
Sales of Sigg water bottle skyrocketed. But even as the profits rolled in, many American retailers kept asking what was the plastic lining used to line each aluminum bottle. As the lining inquiries increased, Sigg's CEO told North American sales reps not to worry, the lining was safe and their retailers should feel secure in selling Sigg bottles.
Then came some independent tests on the Sigg bottle liners and it was revealed that the lining was indeed BPA plastic. Oops, un faux pas plus grande s'l vous plait.
Today, Sigg's CEO twists in the wind reviled by retailers and saavy consumers for outrageous lying all the while giving the BPA story new life.
Retailers are currently taking back all old Sigg bottles and replacing them with new, BPA-free we’re told, bottles or another brand of BPA-free product.
So what to do? If you're looking for a BPA-free water bottle, a local Bend company (Hydro, among several other water bottle makers nationwide, makes double-walled, stainless steel BPA-free bottles.
If you have an older plastic water bottle and want to know if it's made from BPA, look at its bottom. If you see a recycle symbol with a 7 in it, you've got a BPA plastic bottle.

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