In an article published by the daily newspaper Washington Post on January 24, 2014, Tim Kraft and Gal Raz, professors at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, U.S., present results from a study on the market impact of substituting hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives. In their case study, the authors present economic effects of chemical substitutions on two competing manufacturers of reusable plastic bottles, CamelBak and Nalgene. CamelBak and Nalgene are market leaders for reusable plastic bottles. The findings regarding the toxicity of bisphenol A (BPA), a polycarbonate (PP) water bottle ingredient, and the subsequent media coverage left companies facing the dilemma of either replacing BPA or await further research into potential risks and possible changes in BPA regulation. The authors state that if the companies resolve to compete based on the toxicity status of compounds used, they put not only their on profits, but also their competitors’ profits at risk. Such competition on toxicity, they argue, drives the consumer to avoid the products altogether. The non-governmental GreenBlue is quoted to advise companies not “to use toxicity as a means of differentiating products.” Kraft and Raz conclude that manufacturers should collaborate on replacing substances. CamelBak and Nalgene switched to the BPA-free Tritan™ in response to the debate surrounding BPA. Tritan has been claimed to be estrogenically active in vitro (previously reported on by the FPF).
Tim Kraft and Gal Raz (January 24, 2014) “Case in Point: In reusable water bottle industry, dealing with a possible toxic problem.” Washington Post.