This is part II of yesterday’s post neither a leader nor a follower be.

June 3rd, 2009

Here are some more thoughts on the lack of industry thought leadership relative to not replacing BPA by industry leaders.

Here are some more thoughts on the lack of industry thought leadership relative to not replacing BPA by industry leaders.

As a refresher, this author used the following example of less than stellar industry leadership during yesterdays post. I was reading an article recently Titled “Firms aim to fight BPA ban” by Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post. A quote from the article that follows speaks volumes to the lack of leadership in solving this problem. “Frustrated industry executives huddled for hours Thursday trying to figure out how to tamp down public concerns over the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA”. You have to be kidding me.

So, let’s dig a little deeper into this article and suggest how industry leaders should be looking at this as an opportunity and how they can help buyers from all companies source products that are safer and have a better impact on the environment instead of continuing to follow the same practices they have been since the 1950’s.

The firms we are talking about are manufacturers of canned beverages and foods. This includes well known industry giants. A sampling of the creative strategy they came up with was based on the believe that they needed to have a legislative approach (lobbying) and a grass roots outreach to mothers and students between the age of 21 and 35 from someone in the age group. They also considered using fear tactics or telling consumers you will have to pay a higher price for these products. I won’t go on. Simply stated this is poor leadership based on a traditional business model with very little thought as to anything other than business as usual. At the end of the day, the product is not safe and needs to be replaced or outlawed.

Last year, scientists from the US National Toxicology Programme said that effects on reproductive development from BPA in packaging cannot be ruled out and a study released last year by UK scientists linked the chemical to diabetes and heart disease.
This is in addition to the 100 other studies that have found the chemical to be an endocrine disrupter or damaging to behavioural and neural development.

Michael Brown, president of chemical consulting firm StrategyMark said, alternatives such as acrylic, polyester, and polypropylene are worthwhile exploring in a number of applications such as non-packaging water sports bottles, baby bottles, water dispensing bottles, appliance containers (e.g. food processors), etc.

Of course it makes sense, but even a consulting firm that supports this industry won’t come right out and say this is a required and mandatory action.

Let’s take a look at what took place in Japan relative to the same issue

Due to consumer concern about the toxic effects of BPA, Japanese manufacturers voluntarily reduced the use of BPA in packaging between 1998 and 2003.
They replaced EXR coating with PET film lamination on the inner surface of cans or used an EXR paint that had much less BPA migration into food instead.
And following these reduction and replacement moves, a team of assessors claim that virtually no BPA is found in canned foods and drinks in Japan now.

I hope everyone caught the fact that this was done voluntarily between 1998 and 2003 and we are still discussing this problem six years later. The fact is that some of the same companies we are speaking of also sell products in Japan.

So what might enlightened leaders do? Following is a very high level less than all inclusive examples.

1. Accept the fact that there is a problem.
2. Conduct research from other sources such as Japan that have eliminated BPA leakage.
3. Author a plan to replace existing products with new ones that are safer.
4. Willingly incur the added expense to retool processes and manufacturing products that are required to support the change.
5. Author a marketing campaign to tell consumers what you have done on their behalf relative to product safety.
6. Let consumers know what your competition is not doing.

A leader behind this plan might in fact increase market share and also sleep better at night.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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