You’ve probably heard the news that the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), used to make the plastic in baby bottles and water bottles might be bad for us humans. Now, Canada is about declare BPA “toxic”, causing a ripple affect across the once BPA-happy industry. Nalgene will stop making BPA-containing bottles, and REI is pulling them from their shelves.
Add this news to plastic’s already soured reputation for being environmentally rubbish and you have whole new market on your hands. Aluminium Sigg bottles are already a hit here in the UK and Trailspace.com is featuring a whole article on aluminum, stainless steel and BPA-free plastic bottles.
But while you’re considering plastic alternatives, consider NOT adding your Nalgene bottle to a landfill just yet. You might as well use it while you have it. This article in Spiked explains why the latest research into BPAs, mostly studied on animals, is not at all conclusive when it comes to humans.
The [US government's National Toxicology Program] report references several studies of low-dose BPA effects, but also notes that they have been less than definitive because of ‘insufficient replication by independent investigators, questions on the suitability of various experimental approaches, [and] relevance of the specific animal model used for evaluating potential human risks’. More crucially, many of the low-dose studies of BPA have failed to establish a clear link between the dose of BPA and an adverse health impact, a fact that clearly undermines the claim that low doses of BPA in animals have any relevance to humans.
Furthermore, if you haven’t been putting boiling water in your bottle, then your BPA exposure may be relatively low. According to Trailspace:
A recent study by University of Cincinnati scientists showed that liquid temperature, not a container’s age, has the most impact on how much BPA is released. When the same new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles were exposed to boiling hot water, BPA was released 55 times more rapidly than before exposure to hot water.
But the news ain’t all bad. Scientists at the Missouri University of Science and Technology are constructing new breeds of biodegradable plastic using new polymers that incorporate renewable resources, such as polylactic acid, which is created by fermenting starch. Sound technical? It is.
As polylactic acid degrades, the material reacts with water to decompose into small molecules, which are then mineralized into water and carbon dioxide.
“In general, the main end products of polymer degradation are water and carbon dioxide,” Shahlari explains. “Polylatic acid has the potential of replacing the regular water bottles, and we anticipate that our research could be incorporated into that field too.
Great idea, though I fear that biodegradable water bottles could just mean more bottles on the market. I mean, it’s still trash after all. Me, I’ll stick with the three year-old water bottle that came free with my bike.
A plastic ban for dummies, Spiked
Building a Better Water Bottle: Aluminum, Steel, and No BPA, Trailspace.com
Making Environmentally Friendly Plastics, ScienceDaily