Not a day goes by without seeing another article about everyone's favorite estrogenic plasticizer (you do you have a favorite, right?), bisphenol-A. BPA has been linked to breast cancer. And obesity. But it has no developmental effects. It's been found in food containers marketed to children. It's used in receipts everywhere. And, apparently, toilet paper. BPA affects sperm mobility. It's been linked to diabetes. Again. And that's just in October.
Without a dual degree in chemistry and sophistry, it's hard to know what to believe when it comes to BPA. As with statistics, the science can be spun both ways, to vilify the chemical or pacify opponents. I've tried to do my own research and keep up with the latest experiments and developments, but even these studies are potentially biased.
If the studies aren't biased, then people already are. An article I wrote in September discussed a new FDA study, which has since been used as both evidence for and against BPA use. Similarly, depending on how the results are read and by whom, the study was both rigorously objective and hopelessly partisan, simultaneously accurate and incorrect. Commenter SueJ didn't believe the article, and I can't say she's wrong.
While scientists and spin doctors will be arguing for the next decade about the chemical, the public has reached a consensus. Several countries, including Canada, Belgium, Sweden, and as of this week France, have banned the polycarbonate from use in baby bottles or food containers. California passed a ban earlier this year, and several other U.S. cities are proposing and passing similar legislation. The people have spoken: even if the chemical may not be harmful, it's better to be safe than sorry.
It's a PR battle the chemical manufacturers lost long ago, and that they had no chance of winning. If there's a chance a child is being hurt, it needs to stop, period. They're now going on the offensive now, trying to show they no longer supply BPA for children's products, but it's too late. The consumer has a negative image of bisphenol-A. Game over.
Game over for the chemical maker, at least. Distributors can turn this to their advantage. As Prime Line's CEO Rick Brenner has said to me time and again, you need to present this to your customer as a positive. Don't focus on all the items that are going to have to change due to BPA bans; show your clients that you are prepared by presenting products that are compliant and that will not get them stuck in the BPA bad press quagmire.
As Rick said in a recent blog post: "Corporate America needs promotional products. And because of the risks, because of these problems, they need a knowledgeable and conscientious distributor to guide them, protect them, to act as a fiduciary for their most valuable asset—their good name—to ensure that it only goes on quality products that are safe and compliant and is never put on a product that might cause risk or embarrassment. In short, they need a trusted advisor. You."
Suppliers have seen the tide turning for years, and have been creating BPA-free polycarbonate and stainless-steel drinkware as a result. Here are over 1,000 BPA-free products on PromoMarketing.com's search engine, and more are being made constantly. Sell these products now. There's no downside to erring on the side of caution; if it turns out that BPA is not harmful, you still gave your customer a quality product with their best interest in mind. And if the chemical is dangerous, you may be saving more than just your client's reputation.