Plastic Water Bottles and Leaching

April 20, 2009 at 1:09 am 2 comments

We’re going to take a break from our Green-ing the supply chain topic to return to the topic of disposable and reusable water bottles. As we kick that peanut around during conversations and reading more and more about it, we realize that this is one ENORMOUS issue that WILL have profound positive effects on multiple industries and ecologies.

Today we’re talking about Leaching and plastic water bottles. Leaching is, quite generally, “the extraction of certain materials from a carrier into a liquid (usually, but not always a solvent).”  We got that definition from the Wikipedia article on Leaching which, although its not robust by any means, had the clearest and most precise definition we found in our research.  So, if you’re drinking out of a plastic bottle, Leaching is a concern.  As we’ve written about before on this blog, there are certain bottles you don’t want to drink from (DING: DISPOSABLE ONES!!!!!!  Terrible for you AND Mama Earth so PLEASE STOP DRINKING FROM DISPOSABLE WATER BOTTLES) and there are those that are healthier for you.

First thing you want to stay away from is BPA (Bisphenol A).   Many plastic bottles made with polycarbonate plastics may leach BPA.  Bisphenol A is what is known as an Xenoestrogen (dun! dun! dun!), a known endocrine disruptor, which means it disturbs the hormonal messaging in humans.  Synthetic xenoestrogens can cause breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in the fellahs, and are DEVASTATING to babies and young children.  For more of the science on the effects of BPA on our endocrine system etc. see these studies: Environmental Health Perspectives Journalecosumo provides BPA-free reusable water bottles for on-the-go folks, stylish/around the office type bottles, and active lifestyle needs such as hiking and biking.

Reusable water bottles - KOR Hydration Vessel

Reusable water bottles - KOR Hydration Vessel

Whenever you are out or at work or just plain somewhere that you aren’t in charge of what plastic water bottle gets put to your lips, here are some things to look for:

  • Check the recycling symbol on your bottle.
  • If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), you’re safe.
  • Look for the #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene) recycling symbol – if it’s a 4, you’re safe.
  • Look for a #5 PP (polypropylene) recycling symbol and you’re safe.
  • TYPICALLY, disposable water bottles have the #1 recycling symbol – one time use is recommended.  But being that you WON’T use disposable bottles because they are bad for everyone and the planet overall, you won’t be concerned with the #1, now will you?


If you want to read many research papers and articles about Leaching, plastic water bottles, BPA’s, and reusable water bottles, visit this link set up by Environmental Health Perspectives.  Remember, Leaching is only one in a long list of reasons to just say no to disposable plastic water bottles.   We’ll continue writing about this to keep you informed.  If you find any information that you think we should post, please comment and send it our way!  Peace…ecosumo


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robyn Gibson  |  May 27, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Love your site, just discovered it. Really great the way you are laying out these issues in a clear and intelligent manner. I am with a company that specializes in providing sociailly and enviromentally sensitive products such as BPA free stainless steel water bottles with a transparent chain of custody (there is a mouthful) and therefore could be seen as being a little biased. However to add my two cents to the definitions and guidelines you have provided I would like to talk about PET. This is often mentioned as a material that can be recycled and is used in lower priced “reuseable” warer bottles. However there are growing concerns and question about this material regarding it’s durability and how well it can be recycled or rather down cycled. Finally due to it not being very robust there is the potential for leaching to occur as well. Maybe this is something you could address in a more articulate manner or there are others on your site who are less biased and have greater knowledge and experience to contribute on the issue

    Thanks again

  • 2. ecosumo  |  June 1, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Hello Robyn,
    Thank you for the kind words about the site.
    We’re doing some homework on the PET issue presently to see what we can find that is anecdotal vs. factual.
    We’ll be responding to your comment and working to get a conversation going about this by posting an article soon about the topic overall as a continuation in our What Does the Recyclable Symbol Mean? series.
    We appreciate you writing to us and hope you’ll continue, even encourage others you know to submit data they have about the issue.

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