UPDATE: Primo's VP Of Marketing Responds To The Incredible Shrinking Water Bottle

Yesterday, we received a letter from Primo’s Vice President of Marketing and PR. He wanted to chime in on Primo’s unique bottle qualities and dispel any assumptions that a heated Primo bottle could somehow release toxic chemicals. His letter, inside…

He writes:


Thanks for alerting us to David’s discovery about Primo in “The Incredible Shrinking Water Bottle” post. First, we want to thank David for making the simple choice of choosing Primo over other bottled waters.

As your readers have pointed out, many beverage bottles alter when exposed to high heat. Because Primo bottles are made from a renewable plant-based natural plastic that is better for the environment that oil-based bottles, in some instances, exposure to high temperatures can alter the shape of the bottle. As with all beverages, we recommend storing Primo in a cool place. In addition, there should be no worry that any chemicals can leach into the Primo water. Rigorous testing indicates that regardless of temperature, there is no known leaking of chemicals from Primo’s natural, petroleum-free bottle to the water inside. Primo single-serve bottles are also 100% BPA free.

Thanks to your story, we will update the “frequently asked questions” section on our Web site at http://www.primowater.com to clarify these points.

Tim Ronan
Vice President Marketing and PR
Primo Water Corporation

Thanks for the clarification, Mr. Ronan. We also think that updating your FAQ is good idea.

PREVIOUSLY: The Incredible Shrinking Water Bottle


Edit Your Comment

  1. Optimistic Prime says:

    Wow, a letter that actually answers the question!

  2. @Optimistic Prime: Yeah, but they didn’t “take it seriously”, which bothers me. ;)

    I guess everyone who called shenanigans will be pack peddling today. I think I will try Primo water now though, b/c I like their response.

  3. Pro-Pain says:

    Wow, that was some good spin control. A+ to that guy. Give him a raise!

  4. Coles_Law says:

    And I’ll be trying their water so I can do this to one of their bottles. This is almost as cool as Diet Coke and Mentos.

  5. shufflemoomin says:

    Hmm, no ‘known’ chemical leakage. Unknown to who, exactly?

  6. TVarmy says:

    I’ll stick to my tap water in a refillable bottle, but this is a step in the right direction. They should license the technology to soda companies so that those bottles don’t pollute as much, since most people lack the resources to reconstitute soda syrup. It’ll still take a lot of energy to ship it, but at least it’ll not stay around the earth forever when it’s done.

    I imagine they’d probably not use it for everything right away, but I know there’s a British variety of Pepsi called “Pepsi Raw,” which is Pepsi with no preservatives or artificial flavors. A new bottle would show they’re serious about what the soda represents.

  7. evslin says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: Yeah, but they didn’t “take it seriously”, which bothers me. ;)

    No joke, now I’m going to lay awake at nights worrying about this!

  8. failurate says:

    @Coles_Law: They could totally market this as a feature.

  9. @failurate: @Coles_Law:

    Primo “Shrinky Dink” Water. You just drink,place it in your car under the sun for three magic hours, and you get a shrunken bottle. Fun for all ages!!

  10. chrisjames says:

    @shufflemoomin: Exactly, seeing as how all bottles leech material when filled with a liquid. I’m sure he’s been told that the chemicals aren’t toxic or aren’t leeched in sufficient quantity.

    Though, oil-based plastics can be toxic, so where’s the research showing plant-based plastics aren’t, specifically these plastics? I love how they think a statement about Primo water from Primo’s Marketing VP should be trusted. Um, bias?

  11. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    I think regardless of who is nice and crap, I’ll stick with my premium grade ‘who-gives-a-crap’ tap water. Holy crap it’s essentially free!

  12. usa_gatekeeper says:

    Hmmm, so can I drink my booze from a renewable plant-based natural plastic bottle made with marijuana? Woo-Hoo.

  13. SkokieGuy says:

    He has NOT addressed the OP’s question of what will happen to a full bottle left in the heat. Will it explode or lead, potentially (in an automobile) causing thousands of dollars of electronic damage.

  14. SkokieGuy says:

    …….explode or leak……

  15. qhobbit says:

    @SkokieGuy: I’ll vote for mundane leak or nothing. In technical terms, the shape memory effect, which I think is responsible fro the bottle shrinkage, should only happen when the plastic is above its glass transition temperature. At high temperatures the bottle will be soft, sort of like silly putty, and won’t be able to hold much pressure before failing. No internal pressure, no cool explosion. Also the shape memory effect in polymers is typically very weak and likely wouldn’t exert enough force to cause the bottle to fail even considering that the bottle will be heated and weakened.

  16. FLConsumer says:

    Filtered (ion exchange + carbon filter) tap water here in a stainless steel vacuum bottle for me. Stays ice cold (even in a 150F car), can drop it on the sidewalk without breaking, and it doesn’t explode or leak in the car.

    Oh yes, much cheaper than any bottled water.

    Still, glad to see Primo take the time out to respond to the inquiry. At least someone at the company’s listening.

  17. sketchy says:

    @shufflemoomin: @chrisjames: Stop with the fear mongering already.

    Unless you have some proof of chemical contamination in the bottles you have nothing to say on the matter.

  18. basket548 says:

    I’ll go ahead and answer it for you.

    When water and plastic combine in a heated environment, the results can often be catastrophic. These two EXTREMELY volatile materials should certainly never be combined, especially if the temperature even has a chance of rising above 60 degrees. If left in an enclosed environment, like a house, or, God forbid, a car, the bottle WILL explode within five seconds, creating a fireball the size of a city block and giving everyone within twenty miles herpes.

    Seriously, though, the question was answered about fifty times in the previous thread. The bottle will fail at it’s weakest point if it shrinks enough, and water will leak onto the floor of your car. Annoying, yes, thousands in damage (which I don’t think you could achieve unless you somehow funneled water directly into a CD slot), no.

  19. basket548 says:

    Ahh, its, not it’s. And I always pounce on people for doing this too.

  20. SkokieGuy says:

    @basket548: A FEW people in the previous thread’s 67 comments suggested the bottle might leak, others said it would not.

    The company official adressing the previous thread did NOT address the issue of exploding or leaking therefore my statement is correct and your snarkiness is uncalled far.

    In addition, water damage inside a vehicle is a significant risk. If the bottle is on your dashboard, that liquid will get into the dash and could easily cause expensive damage. If that bottle is in a briefcase or bag with a laptop, in the cupholder near your Iphone, camera, etc. ditto.

  21. mrearly2 says:

    I should think that if their bottles are so good, (made from plant-based material), it would be a big deal and everyone would know about it. Perhaps the other petrol-based bottle manufacturers don’t want to focus attention on the fact that plastic bottles release toxic chemicals into their contents, so a good bottle’s ingredients are hushed up. Or, the “plant-based” materials are not non-toxic. Someone is usually lying…
    Bottles exploding? I’ve never experienced that, even when leaving them in a vehicle in South Florida. I generally don’t use plastic water bottles anymore–they’re wasteful–and unhealthy.

  22. Dervish says:

    @shufflemoomin: @chrisjames: Corn-based plastics like this are rated as “compostable plastic,” an ASTM standard that states (among other things) that the material must leave no toxic residue and must break down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass.

  23. @chrisjames: Yeah, not like the expert opinion of a bunch of anonymous internet commenters with names like “Optimistic Prime.” (And yes, I realize your name is actually a name … sigh.)

  24. basket548 says:

    Research? What are you doing? Here at Consumerist, we typically just state our opinions as fact.

    Thanks, though, good to know that these things are indeed regulated.

  25. Dervish says:

    @mrearly2: Bottles are made from widely available commercial plastic resins. It’s not the bottling company that makes the plastics – they probably get their bottles from a packaging producer, which gets the raw resin from a chemical company.

    Corn plastics like these are not more widely used because they’re more expensive than conventional plastics, and due to the biodegradability they’re not as robust as other materials – as seen here.

    They are used in medical applications – including implanted material – so that might give you an idea of how likely they are to leach bad stuff.

  26. SkokieGuy says:

    @Dervish: Should we be creeped out?

    Implanting a corn plastic medical device, a material that is designed to biodegrade?

    Is this what Joan River’s cheekbone implants were made of?

  27. Dervish says:

    @SkokieGuy: From what I’ve read, it looks like it’s used mainly in applications in which they want the material to degrade over time – not, say, artificial hips. They’re experimenting with using PLA (corn plastic) in some kinds of stents, so that the stent stays in place during healing but doesn’t require an invasive surgery to remove it since it’ll gradually dissolve into lactic acid, which is metabolized. Another example is an antibiotic-containing coating layer on a permanent implant. As the plastic degrades it releases the drugs, which keep the area around the implant free from bacteria while the body heals.

    Pretty interesting stuff, although it sounds like it’s still very much in testing.

  28. SkokieGuy says:

    Dervish, thank you and sounds pretty darn cool.

  29. Dervish says:

    I thought so, too. I hope the research pans out.

  30. You know, after all of this, I’m more likely to buy a bottle of this water. I didn’t even know this company existed, and I learn about this bottle from people complaining about it. Either I’m high or drank some really crazy eco-KoolAid, but I see this bottle as a good thing.

    Granted, I don’t drive, (go public transit!) so the “OMG I left my water bottle in the hot car” thing won’t happen to me. Do people usually do that? I would think that you wouldn’t want your water to get hot, right? Or am I back to being high?

  31. Ben Popken says:

    Personally, I think it’s pretty freaking awesome that a plasticine bottle shrinks in the sun. Definitely file this one under “feature,” not bug.

  32. shufflemoomin says:

    @sketchy: Who the hell are you to say what opinion I or anyone else here can have on a matter? He didn’t say there wasn’t a toxin risk, he said there was no ‘known’ toxin risk, that’s not the same thing. Since the rest of the article is pure spin, I was merely speculating. Again, I’m sorry, but you have no right whatsoever to tell me what I have a right to an opinion on.

  33. chrisjames says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: It’s not opinion that all containers leech materials into liquids. It’s a fact. Nor is it an opinion that the VP is not telling the whole truth. What would be opinion is speculation that he’s deliberately lying, which I don’t believe or care about.

    Instead of being mollified by the Marketing VP of the company selling the suspect product, ask what exactly are the consequences of these new containers and their newly exposed physical properties? What studies have been done on the materials? If the VP would just provide some facts himself, instead of a placating, baseless, PR dodge, then it would be much more believable.

    Frankly, I don’t immediately assume there’s something wrong with drinking water from plant-plastic. I also don’t immediately believe anyone who has an interest in selling their product will always tell, or even know, the whole truth.

  34. dwcusc says:

    Very good letter!

  35. GrandizerGo says:

    Geez people, water dissolves everything.
    I am pretty sure that the PR guy was only stating what COMPETENT engineers told him, that in the normal lifetime of the bottle, in normal conditions it is expected to be subjected to, it will not leech any harmful materials into the water.
    That is what almost all containers are based on the we use to carry / store liquids in for short period of times.
    (months or less)

  36. sketchy says:

    @shufflemoomin: I have every right to call you out for making a comment with no other purpose than to spread FUD. Your ‘opinion’ has no basis in reality.

    When you have any kind of evidence that shows any kind of dangerous chemicals (and that part has already been debunked by another member here) leeching from the bottle in question please post it and I will consider your ‘opinion’. Until then keep your fear-mongering down to a minimum so the rest of us can hear the real story (which, as of right now, is nothing).

  37. I’ve never heard of Primo, but I think it’s time to give it a try.

  38. tcolberg says:

    In terms of the question of whether the bottle will shrink and leak when full depends on the reason of why the plastic shrinks, whether by heat or by some other method.

    If the plastic shrinks in higher than normal temperatures, then a full water bottle would not shrink because the thermal inertia of water will keep the plastic that it is in contact with at a lower temperature than the ambient temp of the car interior.

    It also doesn’t seem likely that UV exposure is a candidate as the interior of a car is generally well shielded from UV by the auto glass.

  39. genterara says:

    How do they grow bottles from corn plants? Untasty

    They’ve already updated the FAQs

  40. shufflemoomin says:

    @sketchy: You have no EVIDENCE either that there is no chemical leakage. So neither of us have evidence but your opinion is valid and mine isn’t? Fantastic. I wasn’t scaremongering or anything…In fact, I give up, you can’t win with narrow-minded people like you. Give yourself a cookie and go have a lie down.

  41. Jonax says:

    Those in PR, THIS is how you respond to such articles.

    Direct response to the article, showing that you’ve actually READ it. Straight explanation of the issue – No spin, no cookie-cutter phrases…to sum it up, no bollocks. And to wrap up, a note that company info will be updated to reflect the issue. Could’ve done with some sort of link to proof that it ain’t a problem, but let’s face it – The credibility of such research nowadays is in the toilet when you read about research studies every other day in the papers.

    Not sure what Ronan does outside of the Primo gig, but he could probably do with teaching others on how to do PR well.

  42. sketchy says:

    @shufflemoomin: Sure I do, the FDA and the manufacturer (on top of that, any leakage, if it did exist, is benign by design of a BIODEGRADEABLE bottle.).