The Real Reason Why Coca-Cola Isn't Ditching Bisphenol A

coke bottles in case

The real answer to BPA. Image credit havankevin CC

Ariel Schwartz writes at Fast Company: Why Coca-Cola Isn't Ditching BPA, the chemical that has been linked everything from breast cancer in women to breast growth on men, noting that "the stuff is really bad for you." She quotes a company spokesman, who, defending their use of BPA, says "this doesn't mean the company isn't exploring alternatives, but [he] emphasized the beverage giant isn't in the packaging business and takes its direction from regulatory agencies."

Ariel concludes that they are really just covering their butts:

It's possible that Coca-Cola has asserted its position on BPA so many times that it's fearful of what will happen if it reverses. And it's true, basically admitting they've been poisoning us all these years might not go over so well. But that still won't make it any less true.

But it is much more complicated than that.
Fast Company alludes to the fact that "the substance has been banned in baby bottles in Europe, Canada, and even China, where the toothpaste can kill you." But that is BPA used in the manufacture of polycarbonates; Coke cans are lined with BPA used in the manufacture of epoxy. Without an epoxy lining, the canned pop tastes unpleasantly metallic. And while a lot of companies are LOOKING for alternatives to BPA (as there were in polycarbonates) there are not very many that have been found, they do not work as well for acidic products, they are not yet really well tested for safety, and they are not as cheap.

Even Heinz, which Fast Company credits with paying attention to the issue, says little more on their product safety statement than the Coke spokesman did:

Although scientific bodies worldwide have concluded that minute levels of BPA are safe, Heinz is proactively exploring alternatives to BPA in response to consumer opinion.

Everybody is, including Coke. But as they point out in the chemical journal,

Alternatives for epoxy resins in can coatings are rather limited, but include polyester, polyacrylate, alkyd resins and polyvinyl chloride [PVC] organosols. None of these resins are exact drop-ins for epoxy," says [consultant Michael] Brown. "Each would require a substantial trade-off in cost, processability and potential capital investment for the can maker." He adds that some of the alternatives may even have their own health issues.

I am sorry, I do not want PVC in my Coke cans.

soda sold in refillable bottles

Image credit from Heather Rogers Message in a Bottle

The Message in a Bottle

The REAL reason that Coke isn't talking is that they know perfectly well what the real answer is to the issue of how to get rid of BPA in cans: bring back the returnable bottle system that they have spent fifty years trying to destroy. As I noted in my post Recycling is Bullshit, the switch to disposables has enabled Coke to centralize production, eliminate the independent bottlers that served each community or region, and ship the stuff around the country on the interstates paid for by the taxpayers.

They have become hugely profitable because they have shifted the cost of taking back and dealing with the container from the company to Ariel and me and everyone else who pays for the garbage pickup, the landfill and the recycling costs.

Right now, there is no proven, reliable replacement for Bispenol A epoxies for acidic products like tomatoes or Coke. If people want to stop being exposed to it, they should demand returnable, refillable glass bottles. The stuff tastes better in it anyways.

More on Bisphenol A and cans:
Drink Soda Pop? You're Drinking Bisphenol A (BPA)
7 Companies You Can Trust to Use BPA-Free Cans
BPA Danger may be greater from Tin Cans than Water Bottles ...
Getting Rid Of Bisphenol A Is Not Going To Be Easy; Look At Eden Foods

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