Swiss company mislead public on dangerous chemical in water bottles

Anger With Swiss Bottle Company Grows Into Backlash

KTVU | Sep 10, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — A backlash is growing against the Swiss makers of a certain type of metal water bottle as some consumers accused the company of misleading the public about whether a possibly dangerous compound was used in the process of making the bottles.

Popular with outdoors enthusiasts and hikers, Sigg brand metal water bottles have long been a badge of the environmental awareness for those aiming to avoid the waste of drinking water sold in plastic bottles.

It started three years ago when studies suggested the organic compound Bisphenol A — commonly referred to as BPA — found in many plastics might disrupt hormones. Sales of plastic water bottles tanked while sales of Sigg’s lined aluminum took off.

The company’s green-marketing campaign carefully avoided saying whether BPA was in its products. As it turns out, the bottle liners did contain the compound.


BPA: Low Doses Are Poisonous, Too

Some people are saying they will never buy from the company again.

“I bought the Sigg bottles thinking they didn’t have it in there, but they did in fact have it,” said San Francisco resident Mai Mai Wythes. “I feel cheated and lied to.”

At the Sports Basement in San Francisco Thursday, Wythes exchanged an old Sigg bottle for a free new one that she plans to donate. She said that she won’t buy any more Sigg products.

Oakland mother of two and environmental activist Julie Silas was concerned about Bisphenol A. She emailed Sigg with direct questions and got what she described as “wishy-washy answers.” She dumped her Sigg bottles in disgust.

“[I’m] absolutely outraged with Sigg,” said Silas. “It was misleading, it was green-washing in every way.”

Oakland’s Environmental Working Group first reported BPA was in Sigg’s bottle linings 2 years ago.

“We were surprised and really disappointed,” said the organization’s Renee Sharp.

The Swiss company emailed threats of a lawsuit, demanding retractions. The activists refused, but deleted references to Sigg in its report.

Now Sigg has released a statement admitting BPA was in its bottles all along until a change in production just 13 months ago. The company now apologizes for its “lack of clarity.”

“Just like you learned in kindergarten, tell the truth. Because the lies will get you in deeper,” said Sharp.

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