October 20, 2008 / 5:38 PM / in 9 years

Demand for BPA-free bottles grows after Canada ban

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian makers and suppliers of bisphenol A-free products were bracing for heightened demand for their products after Canada banned the use of the carcinogen in baby bottles.

<p>Baby bottles free of the chemical bisphenol A are seen during a news conference with Canada's Health Minister Tony Clement in Ottawa April 18, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The government of Canada on Saturday said it is starting to draft regulations prohibiting the importation, sale and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles that contain BPA. Earlier this year it signaled the move, making it the first country to do so.

The chemical, used to harden plastics and make them shatter-proof, is suspected of hindering child development. Studies have also shown that overexposure at an early age could cause behavioral and neurological symptoms later in life.

“A number of retailers in Canada took it upon themselves to proactively remove all polycarbonate plastics that contain BPA from the shelves, that fortunately left us the only manufacturer standing,” said Tony Ferraro, president at Born Free Canada, in Vaughan, Ontario.

“The health minister did us justice when he made the big announcement and held a Born Free bottle in his hand which really helped put us on the map.”

The company makes BPA-free bottles and cups as well as glass bottles and distributes to the large retailers including Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaw Cos Ltd.

All of these companies stripped their shelves of products containing BPA earlier this year. Representatives from these companies were not available for comment on Monday.

Ferraro said the company saw huge demand for its product following the April announcement and he expects similar response in the coming days from the latest news.

Born Free has quadrupled its capacity of its popular glass and plastic bottle since the start of the year to about 1 million bottles per month globally.

“We are definitely making sure our production can meet the surge,” he said.

A study by Canadian environmental watchdog Environmental Defense in February showed that bottles manufactured by companies such as Avent and Handicraft leached BPA when heated.

Neither of these companies could be reached for comment but say on their websites that their newest bottles contain no

BPA.

Chaviva Lifson, the owner of Montreal-based baby products mail order website tickletickle, has seen huge demand for BPA-free products also since the April announcement.

“There was literally an inundation of people buying the new products,” Lifson said. “Most people who were concerned have changed over already and now they are just cautious about what they buy.”

($1=$1.19 Canadian)

Reporting by Scott Anderson

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