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11 September 2009

SIGG CEO says sorry

Saying "sorry" does not solve all the problems, but it is a significant step in the healing process.  We are happy that conscious consumers are being heard and not treated as pawns in a chess game.

Since hearing of this issue we have questioned SIGG to fully understand why.    Here is the link to our first post What did SIGG say about BPA? with information about the Exchange Program for bottles with the old lining.  You can check which lining your bottle has by looking inside - the new liner has a dull, pale yellow appearance while the old liner is a shiny, copper bronze.

While SIGG was not fully transparent, prior to 2009 SIGG only ever said that its bottles did not leach BPA or other toxins, as the independent test results show--and that remains the case.

Along with many others we have expressed our deep disappointment and we were pleased to see SIGG's recognition of those sentiments in the sorry statement.  Biome continues to support SIGG, selling only water bottles with the new BPA free lining.   We feel let down for everyone who chose to do the right thing for their health and the environment.  We are still stocking SIGG because:
  • We appreciate SIGG's acceptance of what they have done wrong and their commitment to the "no questions" exchange program.
  • We have always relied on SIGG's statement that the bottles did not leach BPA and the independent tests still show this.
  • We believe that the bottles with the new lining are genuinely free from BPA and harmful chemicals (there is now Government regulation relating to BPA in some countries, so it would be dangerous to mess with that).
  • SIGG's safe, high quality reusable bottles are still a far better alternative for health and the environment than cheap plastic or metal bottles.
  • While they made a big mistake in not being transparent, we have faith in the 100 year history of this reputable Swiss company and the other aspects of their operations that are environmentally-responsible.
As an alternative to SIGG, we have also been offering for some time, high quality stainless steel bottles from Nathan, Klean Kanteen and SIGG.

Statement by SIGG CEO, Steve Wasik, as appeared in The Huffington Post on 7 September 2009
"I am writing to apologize.
As Chief Executive Officer of SIGG, a leading maker of reusable water bottles, I made a mistake when I decided not to announce that our old bottle liner contained trace amounts of bisphenol A. I learned about the liner's content in 2006, when there was debate in the scientific community about the effects of BPA. Scientists lined up on both sides of the issue: Some said BPA posed potential health risks, others said BPA was perfectly safe.
With the issue still very much undecided, SIGG decided to develop a BPA-free liner to eliminate consumer concern about our products. To be sure that BPA did not leach from our bottle liners, we commissioned independent scientific studies and asked the labs to rigorously test our bottles and bottles made by other companies. We urged them to put all bottles through tortuous conditions. Those tests reassured us because they showed SIGG liners leached no BPA. We posted those studies on our web site to provide consumers the information about product performance that seemed to me relevant at the time.
Today, the debate continues. Scientists are still split on the issue. But the consumer environment has changed. Because of the all the conflicting data, a growing number of people have decided to eliminate the concern from their lives by avoiding BPA. Given the situation, I recently decided that we had to tell everyone that bottles manufactured with our former liner (prior to August 2008) contained trace amounts of BPA.
We were right to make the announcement. But I was wrong to have waited this long. One of our primary goals at SIGG has been to help reduce unnecessary waste and to educate people on the environmental benefits of using a reusable bottle. With that objective in mind, SIGG has been labeled a "green" company.
Unfortunately, I am still learning to be a green CEO. When I took this position, I naively assumed that "green" meant being a steward of the environment. In 2007, SIGG became a member of 1% For The Planet and we have donated 1% of all of our sales to environmental organizations like The Sierra Club and Stop Global Warming. However, being a green company also means being held to the highest degree of corporate transparency.
Some executives learn this because they have grown up within the green movement. I have learned this by reading hundreds of emails from SIGG consumers. Some feel angry. Some feel betrayed. All feel disappointed because they were passionate advocates of our bottles.
People have written to explain why they are concerned about BPA. They have written about their personal stories, their intimate worries and their very honest anger. I have personally responded to hundreds of these notes, apologizing for my mistake, offering new bottles to make amends, realizing that my decision caused people real discomfort.
SIGG has been around for 100 years. Yet, we are still a small company with 127 employees worldwide -- about 90 of those working in our Frauenfeld Switzerland operation. SIGG is not a typical modern corporation and it doesn't have a typical relationship with its customers. People have trusted SIGG and my decision breached that trust. I wish I could turn back the clock and fully disclose the BPA content in our liners. What I can do is make sure that I personally never again compromise SIGG's good name and proud Swiss heritage.
In the next few days, we will announce the first steps in our path to full transparency. These will include some very specific things we will do to make sure we are the honest, green company that our customers expect us to be. We will:
  • Post details about the contents of our bottles: the new liner, the cap, the bottle itself. And we will make the information as transparent and understandable as possible.
  • Make it easy for consumers to exchange their old bottles for new, BPA-free SIGGs.  
[Biome customers can contact Tracey on for details on how to exchange your bottles with old lining.  The program will only be offered for a short period of time.  Read our first post on this issue What did SIGG say about BPA?]
  • Unveil an independently managed grant program to help fund BPA and chemical research that will help eliminate confusion and concern about this issue. While we have moved away from BPA in SIGG products, it continues to be used in countless products that we all use each day. If it poses a real threat, we want to help curb its use.
When people buy "Swiss made" products, they are buying quality and peace of mind. I realize that my actions compromised SIGG's relationship with our loyal customers. I pledge to try to rebuild the hard-earned trust you have had in SIGG. I sincerely hope you will allow me to prove myself."  Statement ends.

SIGG also offer stainless steel water bottles made from high quality stainless steel.

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


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