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SIGG Bottles Contained BPA After All, Did They Mislead Consumers?

While the BPA controversy has been playing out for years, one company seemed to benefit from the public’s growing aversion to plastic water bottles… Aluminum bottle manufacturer SIGG.

SIGG bottles, which can now be found everywhere from outdoor retail stores to supermarkets, were widely considered a safe alternative to BPA products. However, it turns out the liners used in SIGG bottles before August 2008 contained the substance as well.

From a SIGG FAQ that was posted in response to the controversy:

2) Did SIGG use BPA in its bottles?

Yes. Prior to August 2008, SIGG utilized a water-based epoxy liner that contained a trace amount of BPA.

How on earth does that happen? Did everyone just wrongly assume that SIGG bottles were BPA free?

SIGG CEO, Steve Wasik, released a statement in which he apologizes for the “lack of clarity in his previous communications” (including his original response to the news) but also mentions that SIGG never marketed their product as BPA free.

While that may be technically true, it sure does seem like some degree of beating around the issue took place. Here is an article I linked to back in May where Tree Hugger tried to answer the question, “Are Sigg Bottles BPA Free?” The article contains this quote from Wasik in response to the BPA question:

SIGG uses a proprietary liner formula from a Swiss supplier with “an impeccable reputation for quality” but that “as there are many copy-cat manufacturers in the market (most based in China) that would like to get their hands on this formula, our supplier has an agreement with SIGG to keep his formula confidential.”

Wasik continues: “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, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Bysphenol A (BPA), Bysphenol B (BPB)

He doesn’t come right out and answer the question, cloaking it as a secret industry formula – but he sure seems to circle around it in every possible way to give the impression it is BPA free.

Starting to sound fishy isn’t it?

Well, Patagonia announced yesterday that it is terminating relationships with SIGG and that they tried to pull any ads associating the two, and will no longer sell their bottles. Why such a harsh reaction?

“We did our homework on the topic of BPA, going all the way back to 2005 when this subject first emerged in discussions in scientific journals” Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s VP of environmental initiatives states. “We even arranged for one of the leading scientists on BPA research to come to our company to educate us on the issue. Once we concluded there was basis for concern, we immediately pulled all drinking bottles that contained BPA from our shelves and then searched for a BPA-free bottle. We very clearly asked SIGG if there was BPA in their bottles and their liners, and they clearly said there was not.

The Cleanest Line, Patagonia’s Blog

It sounds like Patagonia doesn’t feel like they were misled, they feel like they were outright lied to.

None of this seems to be adding up in SIGGs favor, and for me the issue has gone far beyond BPA and whether their bottles are “safe” or not. It is also about shady corporate practices and misleading (if not lying) to consumers. SIGG was directly benefiting from concerns about BPA while avoiding opportunities to come completely clean with people about its inclusion in their product.

Does any of this make SIGG sound like a company you’d want to continue supporting?

If you are concerned about BPA in your SIGG water bottle, some vendors are now accepting exchanges and returns – and SIGG has implemented a voluntary exchange program. Please note that this is not a “recall” and so you are responsible for paying for shipment to SIGG, and there is no guarantee you will get the same bottle design in return. SIGG is not offering refunds.

Here are some images to help you determine if your SIGG is BPA free.

BPA free liner on the left - Old liner on the right

BPA free liner on the left – Old liner on the right

BPA free threads on new bottle

BPA free threads on new bottle

Threads on old bottle

Threads on old bottle


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