I just had this forwarded to me from a friend. I'm not sure what the sorce for the article is. If you know please let me know so I can give them credit for it. Crazy article about Nalgene - Lexan water bottles. I didn't know! Please read:
Debate Over Polycarbonate Water Bottles Grows...The reputation of Lexan polycarbonate water bottles received another blow last week after yoga retailer Lululemon joined Mountain Equipment Co-op in pulling waterbottles containing bisphenol-A (BPA) from their shelves.Vancouver's Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) created a firestorm on December 7 after pulling most products containingBPA - used in the production of polycarbonate plastics- due to studies that have linked BPA to infertility and cancer. Although best known for hard-plastic, see-throughwater bottles, the material is also used for baby bottles, dental sealants and the lining of most food & beveragecontainers. MEC's move was partly driven by the decision by Health Canada, the country’snational health agency, to conduct an assessment of BPA. The agency intends to release a report on its safety next spring that could recommend that manufacturers phase out the use of the chemical. Environmental groups have long expressed concerns about potential health risks posed by the BPA chemical, and recent studies have heightened them. In January 2007, Yale researchers found that when BPA was administered to pregnant mice, it altered a gene responsible for normal uterine development. The study theorized that exposure to the chemical could lead to infertility in people. MEC says it decided to pull the bottles not only because of the government review but also due to growing consumer concerns from its members. “We felt it was a prudent measure to take at this time, given the regulatory uncertainty on the one hand and the increasing concerns we’re hearing from customers about BPA,” says MEC's spokesman Tim Southam. “They were saying, ‘How can you in good conscious, as a responsible retailer, continue to sell BPA given the potential health risks?’” The bad press around polycarbonate water bottles comes as the water bottlecategory has been galvanized by a push to reduce the use of disposable waterbottles. The biggest publicity came after Nalgene teamed with Britt for the Filter For Good campaign. But it also comes as plastic bottle makers areexploring new materials not using BPA.
THE REACTION FROM U.S. RETAILERS In the U.S., Patagonia was actually the first retailer to pull polycarbonate waterbottles from its stores in December 2005. But so far, other retailers continue to sell the water bottles partly because many consumers still prefer the clear and fairly indestructible properties of a polycarbonate bottle. REI has no plans to stop selling polycarbonate bottles. Spokeswoman MeganBehrbaum says REI has told its employees about MEC’s decision so they can offer alternatives if customers express concerns. REI also sells stainless steel and aluminum bottles as well as those made from polyethylene, a softer, nonclearplastic. "We have chosen to continue to sell the bottles, but we en courage our customers to be informed,” she says.REI is also working on coming up with educational material for both its stores and its website to provide relative information around BPA and water bottle safety. Meanwhile, the retailer will continue to monitor the situation and look to the guidance of scientific and regulatory authorities that have so far been approving the safety of polycarbonate bottles. "There's lots opinions on both sides," says Behrbaum. "If we see a significant body of evidence, we'll definitely look at take action."At Rock/Creek, Mark McKnight, marketing manager, says Klean Kanteen was bought into the stores when it heard from its floor staff that customers were looking for alternatives to plastic bottles. But the Tennessee-based retailer has no plans to pull polycarbonate bottles."We're just kind of watching it at this point," says McKnight. "My understandingis that the signs are still inconclusive. If it were pretty clearly proven, we'd pull them."At Backcountry.com, Christian Castellani, merchandise division manager of accessories, says, "Basically the way that we are handling this is by offering the customer the choice. Some people are still very tied to the Nalgene Lexan plastic bottle. We have brought in brands like SIGG and Klean Kanteen andthey have really exploded since this discovery. It really hasn’t slowed down the sales of the plastic bottles but I think as the public becomes more educated, we should see a drop off in sales. I imagine that the companies that are using the plastic in their water bottles will either start to treat them with acoating on the inside or just move away completely."THE REACTION FROM BOTTLE MAKERS Bottle-makers and the plastics industry vigorously defended the safety of theirproducts. While Nalgene says it continues to sell a wide range of Nalgene products madewith different materials, it also offered strong defense for its polycarbonate products. Nalgene noted that agencies worldwide and researchers - including The Environmental Protection Agency, The Food and Drug Administration inthe U.S., as well as similar agencies overseas – have studied the safety of BPA and polycarbonate since it was introduced approximately 50 years and continue to find that that food and beverage containers manufactured from polycarbonate do not pose a health risk to humans.“Rarely has a chemical been the subject of such intense scientific testing and scrutiny, and still important agencies across the globe agree that there is nodanger posed to humans from polycarbonate bottles”, says Tom Cummins PhD, director of new product research and development, Nalgene and NuncBrand Products. “We’ll continue to work closely with our polycarbonate suppliers and monitor research publications and regulatory developments worldwide to ensure the safety of our manufactured products.” But some bottle vendors have already been decreasing their exposure to polycarbonate materials. CamelBak is switching to a BPA-free bottle in by Spring 2008. It has partnered with Eastman Chemical Co. to come out with Camelbak Better Bottle product line usingnew Eastman Tritan copolyester. The bottle with thesame properties customers have come to expect from polycarbonate - vibrant color, clarity, durability, dishwasher-safe, and with no residual taste - but is BPAfree."Customers asked us for a BPA-free alternative to polycarbonate,and that was reason enough for us to moveour entire line of Better Bottles," says Shannon Stearns,marketing director at Camelback. "We willfirst launch the CamelBak Better Bottlewith Classic Cap in February 2008, and will transition our Better Bottle with Bite Valveto Tritan in Spring 2008. This will mean that all CamelBak bottles will be free ofBPA and phthalates—including our new Performance sport bottle and Podium bikebottle."CamelBak is still assuring customers thatits existing polycarbonate bottles havebeen proven safe by many authorities, butis still moving to a BPA-free line becausecustomers asked for it."We’re unsure how consumer reaction [growing concerns around] BPA will impact the bottle market as a whole, but we doknow consumers want choice," addsStearns. "We’re proud to be among thefirst to offer that choice in a clear, durable, dishwasher safe material that is BPA- andphthalate-free."GSI Outdoors is also working with EastmanChemical on a BPA-free bottle, and aims to eliminateBPA across all its product lines by 2009. Mike Glavin, GSI's director of sales and marketing, sayshealth concerns have increased and it might be hard toerase all of them even if polycarbonate proves to becompletely safe."It's no longer disputable whether BPA is leaching frompolycarbonate bottles," says Glavin. "It's now a questionof how much concentration is harmful for humans."But regardless of whether BPA turns out to be completelysafe for humans, he says better materials arecoming to market to replace polycarbonate. Althoughconcerns around BPA have been around for a few years, substitutes couldn't match the durability or clarity ofpolycarbonate until now. "It seems that the new technologiesare going to be available prior to any conclusivehealth information so our position has been to move forward with alternative materials, just like we do a varietyof reasons, whether it's stronger or lighter, etc."One big advancement with Eastman Tritan copolyester is its improved dishwasher durability.And Technology Finds a Logical Solution...
Continual exposure to high heat and aggressive cleaningdetergents can be used without crazing, cracking or hazing the bottle.Another more subtle difference, according to Glavin, is that the sound from a Eastman Tritan bottle is more of a"thud" than the higher pitch "ping" coming from a polycarbonatebottle. Although Eastman Tritan may be "alittle bit squishier" that a polycarbonate bottle, he doesn'texpect consumers to notice any difference betweenthe bottles.Meanwhile, non-plastic bottle makers arealso clearly benefiting."Our sales are fantastic," says Steve Wasik.president, SIGG USA. When SIGG first arrivedin 2006, Wasik says the outdoor marketlooked to the brand as a premium alternativeto polycarbonate bottles "whichhad become some what of a commodity."The current year was helped by a rise ineco-consciousness around excessive plastic."While the majority of the negative press was aimed at PET, many Americans arejust now learning that all plastic bottles aremade from petroleum," says Wasik. Wasik says 2008 could to be shaping up as"the year of BPA" in the water bottle market.Continued tests show that Sigg bottles do not leach any harmful chemicals, hesays. And although polycarbonate bottlesmay prove to be safe, it will be tough toerase growing consumer concerns."Perception is reality and consumers aresaying it's better to be safe than sorry," says Wasik.Michelle Kalberer, co-owner of Klean Kanteen also saysher company has been helped by anti-plastic fervor overthe last year. She found Klean Kanteen with her brotherlargely due to environmental issues around throwawayplastic bottles."Even with recycling efforts, the landfills are getting sofull of these one-time use bottles," says Kalberer.But she also noted a "rush in Canadian orders" with thenews coming from MEC as many Canadian retailers arelooking for alternatives to polycarbonate bottles. Shenoted that it's been a "slow road" for both Klean Kanteenand Sigg as consumers had grown accustomed todrinking from clear, hard plastic bottles. But concernsover plastic's impact on the environment have clearlyhelped the non-plastic categories, and any growingawareness of possible health risks around BPA will onlyfeed that momentum."Once it kinds of gets in people's mindset, it takes awhile for them to think differently," says Kalberer.