BPA Scandal: Now What? Here’s What.

June 4th, 2009

In my last post, I thanked the anonymous leaker who let us into the behind the scenes machinations at the Cosmos Club meeting of the BPA lobby.

Then I asked – Now What?

Well, Here’s What:

–    Congress is not amused. Check out this link to a letter from Congressman  Henry Waxman, demanding that NAMPA supply to Congress a complete list of background materials pertaining to the meetings held by the BPA Joint Trade Association in April and May, as well as a list of attendees at the meetings and the names of the members of the BPA Joint Trade Association;

– The FDA announced it will be conducting a full review of BPA’s safety, and will have its results “within weeks, not months” (as is typical);

–    Surprise, surprise, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NAMPA has hired a crisis communications specialist. Let’s hope this “specialist” doesn’t leave annoying comments on green blogs, like the crisis people hired by the formaldehyde lobby when we blogged about toxins in baby products; and

– NAMPA announced on its home page and in a press statement that   ” a blatantly inaccurate and fabricated memo purportedly reporting on the discussion in that meeting is now being waved as evidence that the industry is colluding to cover up the facts. The Journal’s attempt to pass off this illegitimate
memo from an unidentified source as proof that industry is trying to manipulate the process is
shoddy journalism at best and a breach of journalistic ethics at worst. The fact is, despite the best efforts of the Journal to portray the meeting as something sinister, it was nothing more than an effort by industry to
find a way to portray correctly the science about BPA that has been repeatedly ignored by the media.”

(Note:  The Washington Post reported that a NAMPA lobbyist confirmed the accuracy of the memo, although she did point out that it was a “brainstorming session.”)

Check out these great posts for more info:
–    Enviroblog has a  terrific  round-up of all the news here at “The Week from Hell for BPA;”
–    The Smart Mama has her usual great take on the issue here with her post “Fall-out from Industry Memo Seeking Pregnant Women to Promote Bisphenol A.” Jennifer Taggert, aka The Smart Mama, has been covering this issue – along with a host of other environmental toxin issues for years –  and she’s got great insights into what’s going on;
–    Clementine W takes a practical stance with 10 Ways to Avoid BPA;  and

– The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has this “Chemical Fallout” breaking news feed you can subscribe to for breaking news on this issue as it unfolds.

Just hours ago, the Environmental Working Group released this link as part of an action alert asking  people to call Coke and Del Monte, two of the companies present at the infamous BPA meeting, to tell them to stop using BPA.

I can’t/won’t keep up with this issue on a near-daily basis – just wanted to pass along the news about how speedily things are being addressed, and direct you to The Smart Mama, Enviroblog, and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for breaking news updates.

Progress!  What a nice change from how things have been handled in the past!


Copyright OrganicMania 2009


Interview: Honest Tea Tea-EO Seth Goldman (Part 1)

March 20th, 2008

Big news hit the organics world in early February, when Coca-Cola took a 40% stake in Honest Tea, the nation’s best selling and fastest growing organic tea company. Seth Goldman, Honest Tea’s co-founder and “Tea-EO” sat down with OrganicMania in March at Honest Tea’s light filled, eco-friendly headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland for this interview touching on sustainable packaging and the organics movement.


Note: With my background in corporate marketing, I’m accustomed to seeing CEOs flanked by their PR people. Given Coke’s considerable stake in the company, I half-expected a visitor from Atlanta to join us. But it was just Seth and yours truly for 45 minutes. Here’s what was discussed:

OrganicMania: What sparked your interest in organics and sustainability?

Seth Goldman: I’ve always had environmental awareness. I’ve always spent a lot of time outdoors. I worked at Calvert Group where they had environmental screens. I was leader of a campus group for students for responsible business, now called NetImpact, although I was more focused on economic opportunity than environmental issues.

After starting Honest Tea, it was only natural to get more focused on and more concerned about the environment and agricultural practices. One of the things I learned is that tea is one of the few products that is never rinsed. If you have a tomato or an apple, you can easily rinse it before eating it. But if chemicals are sprayed on tea leaves, the chemicals stay on the tea leaves until hot water is poured in the teacup. In countries like China and India, there is a lot less oversight. Unless there’s an organics inspector, it’s safe to assume atrazine is used, which is the herbicide believed to be responsible for dual sex frogs. There are concerns about safety and the affects on people. So it was in the process of learning about tea for Honest Tea, that I learned about organics. We looked at every responsible option available to us. And the beginning was the use of organic sweeteners.

OrganicMania: What about packaging? One of the main issues that bothers green consumers, like those who come to OrganicMania, is that even if you take the time, energy and money to seek out an organic or green product as an alternative to a traditional product, odds are the organic or “green” product will still be packaged in plastic or some other environmentally-unfriendly packaging. How long will it be until we have biodegradable packaging for organics and green products? What kinds of strides are being made in that area?

Seth Goldman: It’s an evolution. There are no simple answers, although technology is advancing, and that will help. One example of this is corn resin, which can be made into biodegradable plastic for some products. But that won’t work with Honest Tea, because we heat up to 180 to 190 degrees and biodegradable plastic couldn’t withstand that kind of heat. Some biodegradable plastic will work with commercial composting, but not with home composting, and commercial composting is not yet widely available. You can’t put biodegradable plastic in a recycling bin because the plastic is not a PET, and so that bottle contaminates the waste stream.

There are some interesting ideas being proposed, for example, to increase the use of recycled content. Coca-Cola is doing a lot of this, and through Coca-Cola, we’ll now be able to increase our recycled content. Can we get to over 20 percent recycled content in our bottles? I would love to see us go further in that direction. On our own, Honest Tea doesn’t command enough attention from suppliers to make them supply us with recycled content in our bottles, but when we are associated with the world’s largest beverage company, we have a better chance to get their attention.

There are other advances in packaging that are exciting. For example, looking at second uses for products. What about peeling off the skin on a product? So that even if the outer skin couldn’t be recycled, the inner skin could be recycled. These are just ideas, but again, this is part of the reason I’m excited about our deal with Coca-Cola. The Coca- Cola R&D centers are doing a lot of interesting research in these areas.

Visit OrganicMania.com tomorrow for Part 2 of this interview with Honest Tea co-founder and “Tea-EO,” Seth Goldman, where he’ll continue the discussion about plastic packaging, sustainability, and Honest Tea’s deal with Coke.

What do you think about Seth’s viewpoints? Leave a comment and share!

— Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania