January 2nd, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • In the NewsResources

Single-Use, Ready-to-Serve, Formula-Filled Baby Bottles - a "Green" Idea?


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Ready Made Single-Use Ready-to-Serve Bottles
A few months ago, I stumbled across a press release entitled "Ready Made Inc. debuts new disposable baby bottle prototype at Smart Baby Expo."

And I quote, "The new biodegradable paper based design was a major selling point for parents who are concerned with the environmental impact of plastics and the threat of Bisphenol-A in plastic baby products."

You have GOT to be kidding me.  Talk about a green wash!  How on earth can this company tout this DISPOSABLE, FORMULA-FILLED bottle as "green" (and keep a straight face).

Now that 2010 has arrived, this product is going to be hitting the shelves, or to quote the manufacturer, "will be sold in stores throughout the US and be available to global humanitarian markets" (excuse me while I vomit).  And so I thought I had better make you aware of it...

My colleague Diane Sam of MoBoleez summed up the carbon footprint of infant formula production quite nicely in a recent blog post:

"Think about all the consumption of natural resources, landfill space, etc. that goes into the production, packaging and delivery of formula, a completely derived and unnatural product that, with adequate support and education, should be very rarely required. Consider this quote:

"If every child in America were bottle-fed, almost 86,000 tons of tin would be needed to produce 550 million cans for one year's worth of formula. If every mother in Great Britain breastfed, 3000 tons of paper (used for formula labels) would be saved in a year. But the formula is not the only problem. Bottles and nipples require plastic, glass, rubber, and silicone; production of these materials can be resource-intensive and often leads to end-products that are not-recyclable. All these products use natural resources, cause pollution in their manufacture and distribution, and create trash in their packaging, promotion, and disposal."

Source:  "Mother Nature Loves Breastmilk" by Dia Michels

Plastic bottles and nipples are rarely recycled, take over 200 years to break down, fill up landfills and when burned, release toxic pollutants into our air... that we breathe... that our babies breathe.

Then, let's talk about the dairy industry. Most breastmilk substitutes are made from cows milk. The biological equivalent of walking up to a cow in a field and sucking on her tit. The mass factories that produce this milk contribute to a polluted environment in a myriad of ways. Here's a few:

  • Cows excretion and flatulance produce 100 million tons of methane every year, which equals 20% of the earths total emissions. (Methane is the second most problematic gaseous contribution to the greenhouse effect and global warming).
  • The fertilizers used to grow feed for dairy cows pollute rivers and groundwaters.
  • The ammonia from cow pastures and slurry tanks cause acid rain.
  • The clearing of land for pasture means deforestation, an increase in greenhouse gases, the destruction of animal and plant species and erosion of the soil. For example, each kilogram of baby milk produced in Mexico "costs" 12.5 square meters of rainforest.

Think Soy is better? Even the production of soy based formulas are detrimental to the environment:

  • Soy formulas require just as much natural resources and energy to produce and package.
  • In Brazil, forests are cleared and burned to create soy plantations. The soya beans are then used to feed cattle and as the base for soy based formulas.
  • The growing of soy beans requires a high input of fertilizers and irrigation."

Source:  Breastmilk: A World Resource by Andrew Radford

Sadly, according to Ready Made Inc, 85% of consumers surveyed at the Smart Baby Expo, a consumer trade show, said that they look forward to using the Ready Made bottle, with 20% of them stating that they would use them DAILY no matter what brand of formula came inside!    Good GAWD people - the last thing we need is more disposables in our landfills!  I mean convenience is one thing, but convenience to the point of drowning our planet in garbage is certainly another!

What I find most disturbing however, is that this bottle is also being targeted towards the developing world - to prevent the spread of HIV no less!  Ready Made states in their press release that, "One-third of children in Africa with the AIDS virus contracted the disease from breastfeeding."

This is NOT TRUE.

According to Wikipedia, "The transmission of the virus from the mother to the child can occur in utero during the last weeks of pregnancy and at childbirth. In the absence of treatment, the transmission rate between a mother and her child during pregnancy, labor and delivery is 25%.  However, when the mother takes antiretroviral therapy and gives birth by caesarean section, the rate of transmission is just 1%. The risk of infection is influenced by the viral load of the mother at birth, with the higher the viral load, the higher the risk. Breastfeeding also increases the risk of transmission by about 4%.

4%. Four percent. Not 33-1/3%. Not one-third. FOUR PERCENT.  I guess they just got there numbers mixed-up there, right?

They might as well just climb into bed with Nestlé as far as I'm concerned.  And I won't be the least bit surprised if the brand of formula that indeed ends up in those bottles IS Nestlé!

The truth is, on December 1, 2009 the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their HIV recommendations on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.  Tanya from Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog explains...

"In the past, it's been the recommendation that women who are HIV positive not breastfeed as long as formula feeding is "acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe".

Many women in developing countries don't have access to clean water, much less the resources to purchase formula, and not breastfeeding puts their infants at a high risk of death and disease. In one recent study of 14 developing countries, not breastfeeding resulted in over 325 deaths per 1,000 births compared to 35 deaths per 1,000 births among breastfed babies.

That's why breastfeeding, even though it may mean that a child becomes infected with HIV, is considered safer than not breastfeeding in much of the developing world. Both feeding options carry significant risks, but a child is far likelier to die early in life if he is not breastfed.

So, until today, the recommendation has been that women in developing countries feed their babies breastmilk substitutes only if it is "acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe." Otherwise, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the first six months of life, to be discontinued as soon as is feasible thereafter.

This has been a really difficult recommendation to follow, for several reasons. Exclusive breastfeeding (considered the safest method) is relatively rare. Weaning from exclusive breastfeeding to no breastfeeding at six months, as you can imagine, is extremely difficult. And women face significant stigma when not breastfeeding. Unlike the US, many developing countries never lost the "breastfeeding culture", and not breastfeeding is considered a give away that a woman is HIV positive.

But recent research has shown that when HIV positive mothers take antiretroviral drugs while breastfeeding, it reduces the risk of transmission dramatically. Access to ARVs has increased significantly in recent years. Accordingly, the WHO has changed its recommendation:

WHO now recommends that breastfeeding continue until the infant is 12 months of age, provided the HIV-positive mother or baby is taking ARVs during that period. This will reduce the risk of HIV transmission and improve the infant's chance of survival.

"In the new recommendations, we are sending a clear message that breastfeeding is a good option for every baby, even those with HIV-positive mothers, when they have access to ARVs", said Daisy Mafubelu, WHO's Assistant Director General for Family and Community Health."

I for one would NEVER buy a disposable baby bottle.  If people say that it would be convenient "on occasion" to use such a product, then I say it wouldn't be too inconvenient "on occasion" to use a reusable and recyclable BPA-free plastic or better yet, glass baby bottle and wash it and dry it and use it again and again and again.  And then I would pass it on to another mom.  I really have a hard time throwing anything in the garbage.  I donate clothing and household items that we no longer need or want; I have made the switch to LunaPads reusable menstrual products and the Diva Cup; we are avid recyclers and composters; we use reusable grocery bags and stainless steel water bottles; we buy organic as much as we can; and the list goes on and on... Then you hear about a company like Ready Made and it undermines you and everyone else that is trying to make a difference in our society... in our world.

And now that I'm researching this further, I've found many other companies selling pre-sterilized, single-use, disposable baby bottles - albeit not filled with formula - such as Steribottle and Vital Baby, to name just two.  I had to stop searching as I kept finding more and more!

I also had to laugh that the Vital Baby bottle was labeled "from 0 months" and yet had a fast flow nipple.  And then parents wonder why the baby has "reflux".  But I digress...

Please know that I am not attacking mothers that formula feed, whether it is by choice or by necessity.  Rather, I am upset with companies like Ready Made that skew the facts and bring questionable products to market all in the name of the allmighty dollar.  They simply don't care about anything else than their bottom line, but try to make you believe that they are being socially responsible.  If they really want to help the HIV pandemic, why don't they develop a truly green product and then donate a percentage of their profits to purchase the ARVs that these HIV positive mothers so desperately need?  Nestle?  Did you hear that?

So tell me how you feel about single-use baby bottles, either empty or filled with formula.  Tell me what you think about these companies that attempt to green wash us.  Tell me all about what you're thinking.  (And if you see the Ready Made bottles in stores, please let me know!)

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Diane Sam says:

Very disturbing marketing practices, bad enough in the 'first world' but pretty horrifying and immoral to promote this in the developing world.

Posted on January 5, 2010

Wendy says:

You have some of your information wrong. This product is recyclable so should be right in line with your personal agenda. This product has immense humanitarian possibilities for infants and toddlers in the aftermath of a natural disaster where a nursing mother has been killed, clean water is unavailable and sterile food supply is required for tiny lives. That is where this Ready Made product is of most benefit. Good for the inventors for thinking of this benefit!

Posted on February 11, 2010

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

@Wendy Thanks for your comment.  I wouldn't have a problem with this product if the manufacturer was solely targeting its use towards relief efforts in international crises. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

If you re-read my post, you will note that it is being marketed DIRECT to (US) consumers. And the only so-called humanitarian efforts they are making is marketing it towards the developing world to prevent the spread of HIV because according to the manufacturer, "One-third of children in Africa with the AIDS virus contracted the disease from breastfeeding." which again, if you read my post, is NOT true.

Posted on February 11, 2010

Kaylene says:

I would like to speak to the "so-called humanitarian efforts" that you refer to.

I personally know the inventor of the Ready Made bottle and I have to respectively disagree with the way you are presenting this product as well as his intentions.

I understand if you have an issue with his statistics....but as you pointed out, statistics as well as recommendations are always changing. You also said that WHO recommends that mothers breast feed for the first 12 months as long as the are taking their ARV's during this period....what if they don't have access to ARV's? What if there is no mother or wet nurse available? Surely this would create a need for an alternative. One that is safe.

This is not an attempt to replace mother's milk with formula.  In a humanitarian setting, it's purpose is to provide a food source when no natural source of food is available.  In a commercial setting, in developed countries, it would be a product of lesser impact to the environment than the existing baby bottle market.  One of the more often overlooked aspects of this bottle is that it will also be available with clean water.  This would primarily be used in disaster areas where clean water is not available.

You talked about your green lifestyle and then said, "Then you hear about a company like Ready Made and it undermines you and everyone else that is trying to make a difference in our society... in our world". Again I would like to respectively disagree....it's quite the opposite. Ready Made is about to make a HUGE difference in our world...one that will truly save the lives of thousands of children.

If you are wondering if I have something to gain from the sale of the Ready Made bottle...I do. Ready Made has teamed up with our foundation and has very generously agreed to donating a portion of their profits to us. Our foundation has helped build medical clinics in Honduras and we are now in the process of building an orphanage in Tanzania for children who have been orphaned by AIDS. We plan for this to be the first of many. We are associated with people that head up humanitarian efforts all over the world. When we show them the bottle they can't wait for it to be in production because they know how great the need is for this kind of product and that it will most definitely save the lives of many children.

I understand your concern with waste. I myself am not a fan of bottled water for that very same reason. Yet, maybe you are missing the much bigger picture of what this product can and will do. I wish you could meet the inventor and see that his real passion IS for this bottle to be marketed to where it can be used for humanitarian aid. I understand that this product may not meet your standards of a perfectly green product. However, I'm sure you can agree with us that it creates less of a carbon footprint than current plastic bottles. If nothing else it is a step in the right direction.

I really hope you can reconsider your opinion. I would be happy to continue the conversation....children's lives are at stake.

Posted on April 20, 2010

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

@Kaylene - I came back here to post an update regarding a recently-published study that shows medications can eliminate 99% of HIV infections through breastfeeding - http://tinyurl.com/2bladqy - when I noticed that my response to your post is gone.  I posted a reply to you shortly after you posted your comment.  (weird)

Well, I guess I will post again...  I 100 percent agree that the Ready Made bottle is useful in certain situations - when there are orphaned infants, no clean water to mix formula, no ARV's available for HIV positive mothers and in disaster situations. No question.

What I have a problem with, a MAJOR problem, is the marketing of the Ready Made bottle in developed counties. Our society NEEDS more women to breastfeed and this bottle undermines that need.  We don't NEED any more disposable products in our landfills.  We don't NEED the formula companies making any more money at the expense of the health of our future generations.

Any company that is looking to further line the pockets of formula companies (and their own) via marketing in the USA is NOT humanitarian by any stretch of the imagination.  Quite frankly, on his website Dr Littell sounds more motivated by money than by any humanitarian efforts.  And I quote...

"...the Ready Made Bottle can be utilized by unlimited (formula) companies simultaneously. Since Ready Made owns the only Utility patent in the world pertaining to this concept, we can enter into a licensing agreements with all baby formula companies at the same time. Each company can put their own formula in our container as if it is there (sic) container and sell it in the market place.

Our product will be a novelty marketed by huge companies that already have consumer loyalty. Then we will create leverage in establishing other markets around the world. People are trendy and like to try new products that suit their lifestyle. The Ready Made Bottle will fit so well into our global society that in 5 years caregivers of infants will be reluctant to use anything else. It is the only baby bottle that is ready to serve, virtually germ free and totally recyclable. This is an unbeatable combination."

Moms in third world countries are trendy?  We want caregivers of infants to be reluctant to use anything other than formula when the US Health Care system would save more than $14 billion annually if breastfeeding rates rose to the levels recommended by the federal government???

Hmmmm...

In case you haven't noticed, the "green" trend is very prevalent within the juvenile products market.  The year 2006 showed a growing focus on environmental issues and resultant demand for eco-friendly products as well as manufacturing processes. More consumers are interested in purchasing natural or organic products and there is a growing interest in products manufactured by “traditional” methods such as handmade goods.  This includes a departure from disposable diapers and a return to cloth.  It also translates to more mothers initiating breastfeeding, because after all, formula manufacturing is bad for the environment and the resulting artificial food, is just that, artificial and not natural.  I really don't think this emerging market is going to consider the Ready Made bottle to be "green".  On the contrary - the Ready Made bottle speaks to a market that doesn't compost, doesn't recycle, doesn't breastfeed and doesn't care about OUR health or the health of our environment.

Again, if Dr Littell is truly focused on the humanitarian aspect of this product, then sell it to those markets ONLY and work to raise money to purchase ARV's for HIV-positive moms.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy his story (and I hope no one else does either).

Posted on June 23, 2010

Amy says:

I believe the new WHO recs state that moms in the third world should BF - REGARDLESS of whether they have access to ARVs. Of course, if they have access, that's great, but the benefits to a baby in those conditions have been found to outweigh the risks of potential vertical transmission of HIV via BFing.

So, assuming that's the case, there's a HUGE market share taken away from these bottles.

We can debate the intentions and uses of the product until we're blue in the face, but they're marketing directly to consumers in the US: that action clearly dictates that their goal is to make money, not to save the babies of the world.

Spin what you like, the bottom line is that this is another crap product that will do more harm than good, namely because its producers won't limit its use to the situations where it's NEEDED; they'll shill it wherever they can make a buck, at the expense of the health of babies worldwide.

Posted on June 23, 2010

Mat says:

I think the need for this bottle is being overlooked by people who obviously have no need for it. Please check out the article: http://readymadeinc.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/orphaned-by-aids-millions-of-children-left-alone/

Posted on July 11, 2010