LATEST – 31 January 2014: Jewish Voice for Peace launches a new campaigning page on its website: Sodastream – Burst the Bubble, with reports on local activities in the States.
Also see our 30 Jan 2014 posting Fizzy drinks win over human rights for celeb Scarlett
SodaStream markets itself as an environmentally friendly product to “Turn Water Into Fresh Sparkling Water And Soda”… but there is nothing friendly about the destruction of Palestinian life, land and water resources! SodaStream is an Israeli corporation that produces all of its carbonation devices in an illegal settlement in the West Bank.
All Israeli settlements exist in direct contravention to international law! This settlement company obscures its true illegal origin by marking its products “Made in Israel”, however “made in an illegal Israeli settlement” is more like it.
Amena Saleem, Israel steps up SodaStream marketing in attempt to greenwash Israeli settlement crimes, Electronic Intifada, 3 Feb 2013
Eric Ruder,Made in a West Bank sweatshop, Socialistworker.org (US) 12 March 2013
This article debunks the claims of the Israeli company SodaStream to be a caretaker of the environment that does Palestinians a favor by giving them jobs.
Who Profits writes:
Using SodaStream as a case study, a new report by Who Profits discusses key issues in industrial production in illegal West Bank settlements. SodaStream is a manufacturer of home beverage carbonating devices, whose main production site is in the West Bank Settlement of the Mishor Edomin Industrial Zone. The report provides an extensive overview, including the identity of the manufacturers, employment conditions, land confiscation and trade in settlement products.
The report shows how the success of SodaStream and other companies which produce in settlements is based, at least in part, on the structural advantages that these companies enjoy, such as tax incentives, lax enforcement of regulations, as well as additional governmental support.
The report provides an unprecedented insight into the internal considerations of a settlement producer, weighing consumer boycotts and possible negative publicity against the economic benefits of operating from a settlement. By its own admission, SodaStream states that calls for boycott are indeed a “risk factor” and a cause for “rising political tensions and negative publicity”. However, the company declares that moving its factory out of the settlement would require the expenditure of resources and, more importantly, “limit certain of the tax benefits for which we are currently eligible.” These benefits stem from the fact that the Israeli government provides economic incentives, including tax deductions, for businesses operating in West Bank settlements.
Read the Report: Who Profits: The Case of SodaStream
Feb 07, 2013 09:14 am | Henry Norr
Two years ago, as part of Global Exchange’s Economic Activism for Palestine project, I began to research settlement-free home carbonation devices to suggest to retailers and potential buyers as alternatives to the devices SodaStream manufactures in an illegal settlement on stolen Palestinian land. Originally the pickings were slim, but eventually I was able to assemble a page of suggestions. Since then, as products have come and gone, I have updated it several times, and last week I finished the major rewrite below, which takes account of the recent entry into the market of the most promising challenger yet – Cuisinart – and several other intriguing option.
If you’re involved in the growing grassroots campaign to boycott SodaStream, this document may be a useful resource; even if you’re not involved in organized boycott work, please keep a copy to share with anyone you know who may be tempted by SodaStream’s ever-expanding marketing. And send suggestions, corrections, and other feedback to email@example.com.
The simplest alternative to buying a SodaStream machine is to drink plain water or other non-carbonated beverages – no one actually needs to drink bubbly water. And even if you like to do so on occasion, remember that you’ll have to consume quite a bit before you’ll realize any economic or environmental benefits from owning your own machine, compared to simply buying bottles at the grocery store. (Yes, plastic bottles are wasteful, but plenty of plastic, plus metal and other resources used for manufacturing and shipping, goes into each home machine, too.)
If, after making all those mental calculations, you’re convinced that buying your own machine makes sense, you still don’t have to go with SodaStream. Sure, for now it’s the best known and most widely distributed brand in its category, but there are several alternatives that offer similar convenience and potential savings – but aren’t manufactured in an illegal settlement on stolen land!
Four compelling alternatives, each with its own advantages, have reached the U.S. market in recent months:
• Cuisinart: The most exciting new development is the release of the Cuisinart Sparkling Beverage Maker. While other companies have previously offered solid alternatives to SodaStream, Cuisinart is the first with a well known and respected brand name and wide retail distribution. Priced at $99.95, the machine is in stock now at Bed Bath & Beyond retail outlets as well as Amazon, Cuisinart’s own online store, and other online outlets. It’s available in black, silver, or “metallic red” and comes with one 1-liter, BPA-free plastic bottle and a 4-oz. CO2 cartridge (enough to make up to 16 liters of soda, according to the company). You can exchange the cartridge for a full one ($10 at Bed Bath & Beyond) or buy extras at for $19.99; in the near future, Cuisinart also plans to offer exchangeable 16-oz. CO2 canisters that are compatible with the machine.
At this writing Cuisinart isn’t selling its own syrups or powder to flavor your soda, but its customer service department says a full line will be available soon. In the meantime, both Cuisinart customer service and at least some Bed Bath & Beyond retail staffers are recommending SodaStream’s flavorings, but you don’t have to you follow their advice – you can just add fruit juice, brew your own flavorings (start with these recipes), or try the flavor packs offered by two other recent entrants in the make-your-own-soda market , SodaSparkle and Pat’s Backcountry Beverages (see below).
• SodaSparkle: The new SodaSparkle is a different style of device compared to Cuisinart and SodaStream devices: it’s not a countertop appliance, but a smaller contraption, containing a single-use CO2 cartridge, that you screw into the bottle that comes with it to carbonate its contents. The company offers two starter kits on Amazon and on its own website: the standard one, priced at $50, includes the charger, a 1.3-liter BPA-free reusable plastic bottle, five single-use CO2 cartridges (each one good for one bottle of soda water), and 15 single-glass flavor packs; a $60 “deluxe” kit is identical except that it also includes a 1-liter bottle.
SodaSparkle’s CO2 cartridges are made of metal and therefore recyclable, but they are not reusable. A package of 50 additional cartridges costs $24.95 from the company’s own web store or $26.99 from Amazon. Third-party CO2 cartridges are cheaper, but SodaSparkle says you shouldn’t use them.
(The SodaSparkle device somewhat resembles an earlier product made by iSi called the Twist’n’Sparkle, which was recalled and discontinued when it was found that its bottle sometimes exploded during carbonation. SodaSparkle says its plastic bottles contain two pressure-release valves that ensure their safety.)
SodaSparkle markets its own line of “fresh, natural, sugar-free, and preservative-free” flavorings; instead of sugar, they are sweetened with sucralose, a non-caloric derivative of sucrose (the basic ingredient of the artificial sweetener Splenda). Current flavors are lemon, pineapple, apple, cola-lemon, tonic, and lychee; more are in the pipeline, according to the company. A package of 60 single-serve packets (for one glass of water) in assorted flavors is $22 from Amazon or $20 from the SodaSparkle site; boxes of 10 “flavor sticks” (each sufficient to flavor one bottle) in the flavor of your choice are around $20 from Amazon and $15 from SodaSparkle.
• Pat’s Backcountry Beverages: Based in Talkeetna, Alaska, Pat’s Backcountry Beverages has developed a carbonation system suited for (but not limited to) hikers who want bubbly water in the wild. Instead of CO2 cartridges, Pat’s eco2SYSTEM relies on a combination of food-grade potassium bicarbonate and citric acid powders to produce CO2: to make carbonated water, you fill a special .6-liter (20 oz.) plastic bottle with water, empty a packet of eco2ACTIVATOR (the powders) into the specially designed top, and shake.
A kit containing one bottle, six packets of eco2ACTIVATOR. and five samples of Pat’s flavor concentrates costs $40 plus shipping direct from Pat’s online store, through Amazon, or from several other online and brick-and-mortar suppliers of outdoor gear. Extra bottles are $27-$30, while 12-packs of eco2ACTIVATOR powder are $6, plus shipping.
Pat’s offers five preservative-free flavor concentrates – Ginger Trail, Lemon Clime [sic], PomaGranite, Terra Cola, and BearFooot [sic] RootBeer – made from natural cane juice. They come in packets designed to flavor 16 ounces of water. 12-packs of each are $34 plus shipping from Pat’s website.
• My Pop Old Fashioned Soda Shoppe: If you’re willing to put in a little bit of extra effort in order to go green and save money on carbonated drinks, consider a product called My Pop Old Fashioned Soda Shoppe from My Pop Soda of West Hills, CA. Priced at $75 and apparently available only by mail order from the company’s online store, it consists of seven plastic bottles, six of which are connected by a maze of tubes, clamps, and valves, all packed into a bright green shopping satchel.
The beauty of the Soda Shoppe is that you never need to worry about buying, filling, exchanging, or disposing of CO2 canisters – you make your own CO2! All you do is fill one or more of the six connected bottles with a cup of sugar, two teaspoons of baker’s yeast, and cold water, shake each one up, and wait as the yeast digests the sugar and produces CO2. Within a two or three days (depending on the number of bottles you filled and the ambient temperature), a gauge attached to the tubing will show that there’s enough pressure to begin carbonating your beverages. At that point you attach another bottle (the seventh one provided, or any standard screw-top glass or plastic beverage bottle) to the system, open a couple of clamps, and listen to the CO2 whoosh in. A single bottle of yeast, sugar, and water will generate enough CO2 to make 10 liters of soda a week, according to the product’s developer; if you need more, you can use up to four bottles to make CO2.
You do have to shake the bottle you’re filling for a minute or two to achieve good carbonation, and every month or so you have to take the system apart, rinse out the bottles and tubes, and start the process all over. That’s more work than the other products require. But in return you will save quite of money – the cost of the sugar and yeast comes out to only pennies per liter of liquid you carbonate; with the other products, you can spend 10 or 20 times as much for CO2. And from an environmental point of view, you’re making a one-time investment in plastic bottles, tubing, etc., but thereafter you won’t be using anything except sugar, yeast, and water.
• Mr. Butler’s Italia: Precious Products LLC of Garland, Texas markets a $90 countertop soda-making appliance called the Italia, made by Mr. Butler’s in Kerala, India. Unfortunately however, Precious Products markets flavorings from SodaClub, the parent company of SodaStream, for use with the Italia.
• Soda siphons: Several companies, including iSi, Liss, Mosa, Mr. Fizz, and Whip-It, make “soda siphons,” the modern equivalent of the old-fashioned seltzer bottle. The siphons are bottles or pitchers made of stainless steel, aluminum, or reinforced glass with a small CO2 charger attached. They are available, generally at prices between $40 and $80, on Amazon and other online retailers, as well as at Sur La Table and other kitchen stores. One disadvantage is that the small CO2 cartridges are single-use – you need a new one each time you refill the siphon, and they are not refillable. (Online, packages of 100 standard chargers start at about $35.)
• Fizz-Giz: If you want a lower-cost, U.S.-made alternative, consider the Fizz-Giz, a kit developed by a North Carolina tinkerer named Mike Harvell (a.k.a. Mr. Fizz). It consists of a banana-shaped charger “wand” and two special bottle caps, plus one single-use CO2 charger. You fill your own bottle (you can reuse a standard store-bought soda bottle), screw on one of the Fizz-Giz caps, put a CO2 cartridge into the wand, then insert the wand through the bottle cap and carbonate your beverage. The product sells for $28.75 on the Fizz-Giz site or $59.95 on Amazon (plus shipping in both cases).
• DIY: If you are so inclined, you can build your own carbonation system. Fizz-Giz’s Harvell has posted links to several sites that offer detailed instructions – go here and scroll down to “DIY References and Sources.”
• Home delivery: In a few places you can still get locally-made seltzer water delivered directly to your doorstep. In New York the Gomberg Seltzer Works of Canarsie, Brooklyn, supplies several home-delivery men. In California the Seltzer Sisters of Redwood City deliver throughout the Bay Area. And there are similar services in Toronto, Vienna, and Argentina.
Updates on older products:
• Primo Flavorstation: Primo Water Corp.’s Flavorstation 100 ($70) and Flavorstation 120 ($80), which were previously recommended here, are still available at the company’s online store, on Amazon, and possibly at some retail outlets, but Primo has announced that Cuisinart will take over sales and marketing of the devices, and Primo will supply CO2 cylinders for the Cuisinart appliances.
• iSi Twist’n’Sparkle. Earlier versions of this page recommended a product from iSi called the Twist’n’Sparkle system. Unfortunately, the product has been recalled and owners are instructed to stop using it immediately because, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “The plastic bottles can explode under pressure, expelling plastic parts, resulting in an injury hazard to anyone nearby.” For more information or return instructions, call 800-645-3595.
Eric Ruder debunks the claims of the Israeli company SodaStream to be a caretaker of the environment that does Palestinians a favor by giving them jobs.
12 March 2013
SODASTREAM, THE Israeli corporation that manufactures do-it-yourself soda machines, is enjoying a dramatic increase in visibility. The company achieved marketing notoriety when the NFL rejected its Super Bowl ad in early February because it was deemed too critical of soft-drink giants Coke and Pepsi.
A few weeks later, the New York Times featured SodaStream in an article about the growing market for kitchen carbonation products. According to the sales pitch, SodaStream and similar devices reduce waste by cutting down on the use of disposable bottles, while allowing consumers to create “healthy” alternatives to high-sugar commercial sodas like Coke and Pepsi.
But not all of the attention SodaStream has garnered is so bubbly. That’s because the core of SodaStream’s product line is manufactured in a factory built in an illegal Israeli settlement, using Palestinian labor.
Activists around the world, including the U.S., have organized actions calling on consumers and retail stores to boycott SodaStream as part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to demand Palestinian civil rights.
SodaStream is a good target for a number of reasons. It manufactures products in a new niche market that it has so far dominated, but which is bound to produce competitors. Its global sales figures are taking off, nearly doubling in a single year to $436.3 million in 2012. SodaStream’s products are sold in 39 countries and at some 35,000 stores worldwide–including major retailers like Macy’s; Bed, Bath and Beyond; Bloomingdale’s; Sears; Kmart and more–making it a prominent target in numerous countries.
Moreover, SodaStream has launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to brand itself as “socially responsible.” This has two important implications. First, SodaStream wants to appeal to consumers interested in sustainability and ethical corporate conduct, but many of these same consumers would be horrified to find out about the exploitative conditions at SodaStream’s West Bank factory and the deception that SodaStream engages in to keep the stench of apartheid away from its “fun and fizzy” products.
Second, the arrogant executives at SodaStream seem to believe their own marketing, so their attempts to “sanitize” their business model of exploiting Palestinian labor in illegal settlements should provide regular opportunities to expose their self-serving messages.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
TAKE, FOR example, the recent video released by SodaStream to showcase its “benevolence” in hiring Palestinian workers at their factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial park attached to the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.
In the eight-minute video, the narrator explains that Rafi, a Palestinian worker at SodaStream, boards “a bus chartered by his Israeli employer SodaStream [that] collects him and a few other workers from the nearby towns” and whisks them past Palestinian villages and an Israeli checkpoint to the factory. SodaStream is “among the largest private employers in the West Bank where unemployment can reach 30 percent,” notes the narrator.
Of course, the video doesn’t mention that it’s because of Israeli apartheid that Rafi is prohibited from living in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, which is for Jewish settlers only; it’s because of Israeli apartheid that Rafi must board a special bus to take him to his workplace; and it’s because of Israel’s strangulation of the Palestinian economy that it’s unable to generate sufficient jobs.
The video also fails to note that Rafi must obtain special work permits to allow him to work at SodaStream. This makes Rafi and all Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements highly vulnerable, according to a report on SodaStream produced by WhoProfits.org, the organization that monitors firms complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine:
The main criterion for receiving such a permit is a “security clearance,” which attests that the worker’s personal record in the Israeli security forces records is clear of any action or pronouncement which is defined as endangering Israel’s security. Ironically, involvement in a labor disagreement with an employer is also defined as a security risk. Thus, workers jeopardize their work permit if they demand anything of their employers.
By losing this permit, workers do not only lose their current employment; they also lose the ability to work in settlements in the future. Therefore, fear of losing the work permit most often overrides the workers’ desire to demand their rights.
Though the video celebrates SodaStream’s generous wages, Palestinian production workers at the Mishor Adumim factory held a protest in 2008 to demand a higher income and better conditions. The demonstration was organized with help from Kav LaOved, an Israeli organization that tracks labor abuses by Israeli firms in the Occupied Territories.
“The Palestinian workers say that they are being discriminated against, they don’t even earn half of the [Israeli] minimum wage, and the work conditions are terrible,” explained Salwa Elinat, a staffer at Kav LaOved at the time. “If they demand their rights, they will be fired. It is like this in many factories in this area, but SodaStream’s factory is one of the worst.”
This no doubt explains why, according to a recent survey, more than 80 percent of Palestinians working at firms in illegal settlements would quit and work elsewhere if given the opportunity.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
SODASTREAM INSISTS that it cares about sustainability and the environment, but this claim is only believable if we ignore the hypocrisy at the company’s core.
The Mishor Adumim industrial park got its start in the mid-1970s, not so long after the Six Day War in 1967 that ended with Israel occupying the West Bank and Gaza. According to the WhoProfits.org report, when the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement was officially declared in 1975, it was:
among the largest land expropriations in the history of the occupation, spanning a vast area from Jerusalem to the city of Jericho…[T]oday, [this settlement] occupies the largest land area of all Israeli settlements and, with its 35,000 residents, ranks third in population. Because of its scale, its location and the difficulties associated with relocating such a large and established population, Ma’aleh Adumim is, today, considered to be a major obstacle to any future peace agreement.
SodaStream is one of the most lucrative and high-profile corporations anchored in an industrial park in one of Israel’s largest settlements. So when the company talks about “sustainability,” it means sustainability of the occupation–as opposed to the Palestinian towns of Abu Dis, Azarya, A-Tur, Issauya, Han El Akhmar, Anata and Nebbi Mussa that used to exist where Israel’s illegal settlement now stands.
And when SodaStream promotes itself as a caretaker of “natural resources,” it leaves out how it is complicit in the long-term theft of water resources from Palestinian residents of the West Bank–shamefully, with the blessing of the Palestinian Authority.
According to the World Health Organization, individuals need access to 100 liters of water per day. Israeli settlers in the West Bank consume 400 liters per day, while Palestinians receive just 73 liters–and Palestinian Bedouins as little as 10 liters.
Halfway through SodaStream’s smarmy self-promotional video, CEO Daniel Birnbaum practically pops with pride as he declares, “At SodaStream, we build bridges, not walls. It’s a fantastic sanctuary of coexistence and an example of peace in a region that is so troubled and so needs hope.” He goes on to assert that the campaign against SodaStream is based on “manipulative” and “untrue” claims made by the company’s critics.
SodaStream has been repeatedly caught mislabeling its products as “Made in Israel” in order to avoid customs fees when exporting to the European Union. An EU-Israel Trade Agreement adopted in 2000 allows goods from Israel–but not the West Bank–to enter without paying such fees. The EU has explicitly stated that Israel’s settlements are “illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.”
So who’s being manipulative?
Even more revolting is the idea that SodaStream is a beacon of “peaceful coexistence.” As the website of the Italian BDS campaign explains:
To speak of “peaceful coexistence” between people who do not have equal rights and equal social, economic and political opportunities is absurd. Among SodaStream employees, there is a marked difference between the conditions of the occupiers and those who suffer under occupation. For example, just as in apartheid South Africa, the Black majority was allowed to enter areas reserved for whites only in order to work, so do the Palestinians depend on the occupying power for work permits.
The slogan of SodaStream’s advertising campaign is: “If you love the bubbles, set them free.” The BDS campaign has a different slogan: “Free Palestine.” Or as a sign carried by a protester against SodaStream put it, “Burst the bubble on this pop, military occupation has to stop.”