Technically, he is right. But at no point did SIGG ever correct the public's misperception that the bottles were BPA-free. In fact, they profited from it. According to Advertising Age, SIGG sales increased 250 percent between 2006 and 2007. The January 2009 press release from SIGG indicated they were creating a new line of bottles with what they called an EcoCare liner. What they did not say, and what even their PR company did not know, was the underlying reason for this change: that the original SIGGs contained BPA.
If you log on to the SIGG website, you will find a new link to an apology from the CEO on its home page. The controversy had been brewing a week before this apology was posted on September 1, 2009. The company tells you they will replace your old SIGGs with new ones if you are willing to fork over the money to send it back to them.
I asked Wasik about pushing the responsibility back on to the consumer and he said: "We don't believe this is a recall, but we know there are some consumers out there that are concerned. If we pay for this, we'll get people who aren't concerned—which is about 9 out of 10 people—sending back bottles they bought three years ago that have dents in them." He want on to explain that most major retailers that stock SIGGs will replace them. I called REI and Whole Foods stores to verify this and it is, indeed, the case. However, this information is not revealed on the SIGG website. All it says (on the downloadable mailing label) is: "We are sorry for the inconvenience. You may choose to keep your current bottles as they have been proven not to leach, but if you want to exchange your bottle(s), you will have to bear the cost of returning it to us. Thank you in advance for your kind understanding in this regard." I guess you have to talk with the CEO to learn that there might be a more cost-effective way to swap them out. Oh, and the offer ended on October 31, 2009.
Although asked, I have never signed on to be a spokesperson for a product because I believe it compromises my integrity as a journalist and environmental advocate. (Full disclosure: I did get paid to moderate a Seventh Generation panel on industrial chemicals and health last fall.) Any product that has earned my praise has done so on its own merits. SIGG was one of the very few companies I chose to discuss by name. (I even participated in a Sigg100 celebration by recording a podcast about environmentally-friendly practices alongside Ed Begley Jr., Laurie David and others to coincide with the company's 100-year anniversary.) Today, I am telling you that I am deeply sorry for leading you astray. Had I known better, I would have used—and promoted—BPA-free alternatives from the onset. Steve Wasik tells me he still uses the old bottles with the BPA liner for himself and his family. I intend on following in the steps of fellow HuffPost blogger Nena Baker and reconsider a swig from my SIGG.
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