I received a comment on a post and 3 emails last week asking me about the saga of Sigg and the plastic liner they use on their metal water bottles. After years of deflecting questions about possible BPA in the liners of their bottles, Sigg finally admitted to the presence of the endocrine disrupter bisphenol-A. Sigg insists that the chemical does not leach out of their liners under any circumstances. They may indeed be correct on that point, but the way in which they handled the disclosure of this information was much less than forthright. Even as they were deflecting questions about their liners, they started back in 2006 to develop a new, BPA free, liner.
Of course I am disappointed in Sigg handling of this situation which has been covered by many other bloggers, and large media outlets. One of the better, more in-depth articles is on the Z Recommends website. It is difficult for me to write in a negative way about a product that I have used for years and a company I thought of as very responsible in their pronouncements of safety. I have written articles about the concerns over plastic water bottles, but even now there is no proof that Sigg’s bottle liners are unsafe. In fact they may be one of the few companies that has been able to show that no BPA leaches into the water stored in these bottles. Many people questioned Sigg about BPA in their bottles over the years but answers were hard to get. The big environmental site, Tree Hugger, had an article as long ago as April of 2008. Then recently Sigg started to try to control the adverse publicity.
I suggest that people read all the above links if you use Sigg bottles. The stories themselves shine a light on the difficulty of getting information from even the most reputable of companies. Sigg has perhaps the most environmental credibility of any water bottle manufacturer, yet they did not come through in the best manner once the story was out in the open. Even today there is controversy surrounding Sigg. The company has offered a temporary bottle exchange program where if you pay to ship your old bottles back to them, they will send you a replacement with the new BPA free liner. The biggest problem is that the exchange program ends at the end of October. This is an issue because even though Sigg claims they stopped manufacturing the BPA containing bottles over a year ago, major retailers like Amazon continue to sell the old bottles. I am not sure if this is because Sigg is still shipping old stock or if it really does take years to clear the system of the BPA containing bottles, but Sigg does not appear concerned about this. I sent Sigg an email last week and received the following reply echoing the company line that the concern about the BPA liners is unfounded.
“As the bottles pass stringent international tests for safety and have been shown not to leach BPA into your beverages, there is no product recall. Many folks are not alarmed by the publicity and are choosing to keep their bottles with the former liner, and some folks have even requested older bottles from us.”
Using a metal bottle rather than the disposable single serving bottles so popular right now, is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint. Some people say that if we are concerned about plastic lined bottles, we could use stainless steel bottles. The idea of stainless is great for some people, but unfortunately many of us can taste the metal when drinking out of a stainless bottle. The Sigg bottles impart no taste at all to the water, but after their less than forthcoming approach to concerns about their liners, some have lost trust in the company. Plus, the idea of a plastic liner goes beyond the concern of BPA as there so are many other chemicals in plastics. If indeed Sigg can absolutely prove that under no circumstances is there any leaching from their liners to the water, then many will have faith restored in the company. But they must do more that claim this leach free result. They must fully publish the research, studies, and tests that prove the bottles are free from leaching.
Come clean Sigg. Go beyond your attorney reviewed open letters from Steve Wasik, your CEO. You had one of the most loyal customer bases of any company world wide. Many of these faithful feel personally let down by the way you have handled this situation. Most of these disappointed customers are following you closely looking for a sound reason to have restored faith in Sigg.