A media release issued by SodaStream as part of its marketing campaign is using incorrect and unsubstantiated information to scare consumers into investing in SodaStream’s carbonating machines.
The release infers that the ‘plastics used to manufacture water bottles and foam drinking cups’ are ‘deadly’ to humans and that toxins seep into the water with every refill when people re-use plastic bottles after purchasing bottled water.
It also states that PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) releases endocrine-disrupting chemicals over time, as well as toxic antimony.
Ironically, SodaStream’s own plastic carbonating bottle is made from PET, a fact the release neglects to mention but which is proudly published on its web site in an answer to the frequently asked question ‘Are SodaStream’s products recyclable’. (http://www.sodastream.co.za/faq/)
In addition, the web site also states that ‘carbonating bottles are reusable up to 3 years before they need to be replaced’ – that’s some time.
According to the South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA):
- Like most bottles containing other beverages, bottled water bottles in South Africa can be made from glass or PET. The inert PET bottle is a well-accepted package all over the world and is completely safe to drink from, not ‘deadly’.
- The Goethe Study, which claimed that endocrine disruptors leached from PET, has been refuted by subsequent studies and its findings disregarded by the scientific community.
- PET does contain antimony oxide. However, the amounts contained in PET are well below established safe limits for food and water set by the World Health Organisation. For example, a 60kg person would be able to tolerate a daily intake of 360ug but the guideline for drinking water is less than 20ug/l.
“The SodaStream media release does contain helpful information about the various seven plastic grades,” said SANBWA executive director, Charlotte Metcalf.
“But it is very unfortunate that it opted to be selective with the facts and use language and phrases to infer that the bottled water industry is utilising materials that are ‘deadly’ to humans, particularly when SodaStream uses the same materials for its own carbonating bottles.
“In addition to the inconsistencies and inaccuracies listed above, SodaStream’s release stresses that its plastic carbonating bottle is free of grade 7 Bisphenol-A, the chemical used to produce reusable plastic products. It neglects to point out that so, too, with bottled water bottles.
“The inert PET bottle is a well-accepted package all over the world and is completely safe to drink from. It is also lightweight, unbreakable, and recyclable. And can be re-used a number of times – not for 3 years as SodaStream claims its PET bottle can be – provided consumers take steps to prevent the growth of bacteria by washing it with hot soapy water and drying thoroughly between each use,” she said.
Metcalf added that, as a responsible corporate citizen, SANBWA is making certain its members play their part in reducing plastic waste.
She said SANBWA’s members’ primary concern is the health, safety and pleasure of their consumers. They therefore willingly conform to the extremely stringent safety and quality measures contained in the SANBWA Bottled Water Standard, which includes environmental stewardship.
These environmental stewardship protocols address measures to ensure source sustainability and protection, water usage minimisation, energy efficiency, solid waste minimisation, and support post-consumer recycling initiatives.
In addition, as an organisation, SANBWA was among the first worldwide to require its members to follow specific recycling guidelines and took advise from PETCO in South Africa (the local plastic industry’s first joint effort to self-regulate post-consumer PET recycling) to develop its guidelines.
It expects members to only support PET bottle suppliers which contribute to the PETCO recycling levy; establish a drop-off centre for the public at the bottling facility and all distribution centres; add the ‘please recycle’ sign on all labels; and use recycling friendly materials or recycling optimal materials as stipulated in the SANBWA Bottled Water Standard and published on www.sanbwa.org.za/environ_pet.asp or on www.petco.co.za/ag3nt/media/set_999699/Petco_Design_Fact_Sheet.
PETCO is currently fine-tuning a ‘design for recycling grading system’ which SANBWA fully supports to ensure that members’ packaging is easy to recycle and does not end up on landfill because of one small component – the type of glue used to fix the label, for example – that is undesirable for the recyclers’ process and therefore rejected.
SANBWA formally audits its members’ compliance with respect to environmental stewardship. It will soon also audit non-members, and inform these bottlers when or if they find any shortfalls in their packaging, and suggests changes.
“SANBWA’s key message is a dual one: ‘Water — in all its forms — is a vital component of our diet, as well as the healthiest beverage option for societies plagued by diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
“When tap water is unavailable or unsafe to consume, bottled water is the best packaged beverage option for the environment; it has the lightest environmental footprint of all packaged beverages — one that can be reduced by 25% if consumers were to simply recycle the bottle,” Metcalf concluded.
The articles SANBWA refers to can be seen in the links below: