Surprise! Sigg Bottles Did Contain BPA After All.

More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!

sigghonest2A bottle full of BPA-laden tears. That’s what I’ve cried for you, Sigg. You have let me down. To think, you were my proud symbol of healthy environmentalism. You represented anti-plastic bottled water as I filled and refilled you every day at the tap. Now I am filled and refilled with shame for you and your company’s non-transparent ways.

I’m not so mad that your lining did in fact contain the reproductive health problem-causing BPA (the main reason consumers like me made an effort to avoid plastic in the first place), it’s that you lied. Perhaps the BPA in your lining does not leach into the liquid contained by your bottles, but your web of lies has leached into the consumer’s conscious. Good luck talking your way out of this one.

Here’s some background: in early 2007, it became publicly known that BPA, found in a variety of items such as plastic baby bottles and sports bottles, can seep from containers into the liquid we drink, causing reproductive disorders. This caused health conscious consumers to switch from their Nalgenes and other plastic bottles to metal bottles, such as Sigg. Expensive and stylish, it remained unclear whether or not these bottles contained BPA. So many consumer-watch groups and green sites, such as TreeHugger, asked Sigg straight out. CEO, Steve Wasik. responded with carefully worded emails, explaining Sigg’s supplier has an agreement to keep the formula confidential. However, he assured us that “Very thorough migration testing in laboratories around the world is conducted regularly and has consistently shown SIGG aluminum bottles to have no presence of lead, phthalates, Bysphenol A (BPA), Bysphenol B (BPB) or any other chemicals which scientists have deemed as potentially harmful.”

And yet, in a recent press release, the very same man, CEO Steve Wasik, explains that Sigg bottles bottles manufactured prior to August 2008 have a water-based epoxy liner which contains trace amounts of BPA. He continues to explain that NOW all Sigg bottles are BPA free. Oh, NOW they are. After I’ve been drinking out of my Sigg day after day, month after month, believing it to be BPA-free.

Granted, tests have shown that the BPA from Sigg bottles does not leach into the water in the bottle. But that’s not really the point. The point is that there is a strong expectation today for companies to be transparent, especially companies that are considered on the more sustainable end of the spectrum. When a trusted company goes through such lengths to hide the truth, it makes consumers like me question why we should ever rely on their products again.

As an extremely detailed article from Z Recommends puts it Sigg has been: “carefully controlling information about its products, challenging consumer advocacy organizations when they made statements that were unproven but that the company knew to be true, and “coming clean” only when it suited its own purposes.” This leaches a dark spot of shame on a company I once considered to be trustworthy and sustainable. I hope other companies can learn from this mistake and, moving forward, consider transparency to be the most important company value.

Audrey is a freelance copywriter. She has worked with every kind of company, helping them to communicate their message of sustainability. Careful to never greenwash, Audrey believes that transparency in marketing is just as important as branding. And that doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive. When she's not blogging, marketing sustainability or writing radio commercials for Chinese food, you can find Audrey rock-climbing, riding her bike around San Francisco, or looking for work (she's available for hire, call now!)