What You Should Know About Tervis Cups

I have several Tervis ™ cups in my house and I refuse to drink out of them. Every single one of them was a gift to my husband except for a princess one my daughter got, that she has grown attached to but try to never give to her to drink out of. There is a Tervis cup craze going on and it has been growing since last year. Last Christmas I believe 4 new Tervis cups came into our house.

I decided to figure out what they were made of and did they have BPA in them. I never saw BPA free written on anything related to their products. I went to their website and this is what it said about its BPA status (see it directly here):

We are committed to delivering the highest quality, most durable, and safest tumblers in the world. To that end we subject our tumblers to extensive testing by independent testing facilities to ensure that our product exceeds the strictest safety requirements of the FDA. In 2009, we began the process of converting our tumblers to Eastman Tritan™ – a new generation polymer. This conversion enables us to eliminate a step in the manufacturing process of Tervis tumblers while upholding our quality standards. Furthermore, Eastman Tritan™ contains no Bisphenol A. As of January, 2011, we have completed the transition of our entire line of Tervis tumblers to Eastman Tritan™. We will continue to search for new ways to enhance our offering and will strive to maintain our level of excellence.

So this bring up two additional questions: How do I know if my Tervis cup is BPA free? What is Eastman Tritan ™ and what chemicals are in that product?

So what is Eastman Tritan? It is a trademarked product  used in a pharmaceutical products that does not contain BPA but is classified as a 7 in recycling codes. Code 7 plastics are basically a catch all of “other” plastics. Many items put in that category have properitary formulas that are protected therefore its actual “ingredients” are unknown. So do we know if there is anything dangerous in it like Phthalates or other known dangerous chemicals (or unknown)? Some doctors have recommended that you avoid eating anything that has come into contact with code 7 simply because it is unknown (see one doctors full comments on this subject here)

How do I know if my Tervis cup is BPA free? I am not really sure. They are billed to be long lasting so there is no reason to think the ones that you see on your shelf at your local Bed Bath and Beyond are not 3 years old. I checked the bottom of all my cups and I found that there was an 11 imprinted on a few of them and a 12 on a few of them but to be honest I do not know if that references the year it was made. No research I did could tell me exactly what it was.

Some other concerns about the cups is that they are billed to hold both cold and hot drinks. Generally speaking high heat liquids tend to be worse for leaching chemicals from plastic to the liquids in the cup.

In the US chemicals are considered safe until proven otherwise. The trademarked and proprietary nature of our free market system makes it hard for us as consumers to know what is in the products we use. I have chosen not to drink out of these cups because I am not sure what they are made with and how they might hurt my health. I also know that as a code 7 I am not able to recycle them in most cities so they are single use (meaning single owner) product which as an environmentalist I work to avoid.

So when you are shopping for new cups or looking for a gift to give do not fall prey to the marketing of allowing you to get a plastic cup for hot and cold drinks that has your favorite <insert: college, team, saying, anything > logo on it. You do not know what it is made out of and it could be bad for your health.

Do you have any Tervis cups? If a friend offered you a drink in one would you drink it? More importantly would you drink a liquid that you did not know the ingredients and you did not know if it was safe for your health?

What You Should Know About Tervis Cups


  1. I’m starting to back away from plastic anything for food containers (and it’s So Hard!). Turns out plastics manufacturers don’t need to (and therefore don’t) tell you what exactly is in their plastics, in the way of additives and such. Even if is says “1” or “2”, it may not be only PETE or HDPE (or whatever) in there. I personally suspect BPA will turn out to be the first of a long list of troublesome substances.

    Anyway I thought the REALLY cool thing was to tote your Mason jar everywhere, for your take-out coffee, smoothies and such.
    (Hi from Reduced Footprints’ Meet&Greet).

  2. You know, I have wondered about this before too. Seems to me like they are still holding out on information. If they would be as transparent as their cups about what is actually IN the cups it would probably save us all a lot of questions. In my experience, when companies have to have a special code name for a product (like “Eastman Tritan”) it means they definitely have something to hide.

    • I agree Amy. I just saw the Tervis ad in Family Circle magazine for November and there was no mention of BPA free…etc. It does raise your eyebrows!

    • I am not a fan of plastic for food and drinks at all, but if I had to drink out of a plastic cup, I would prefer that it was made from Eastman Tritan. Eastman Tritan is not a code name. It is a brand name of a plastic made with no BPA and has been tested by independent companies and has been determined safe. I looked into it when I was trying to find info on the plastic that is used in the VitaMix and then discovered that Tervis cups are made from the same stuff. I prefer the Lifefactory glass bottles, but if I needed to use a plastic cup for some reason, I’d probably use a Tervis just because of the “safe” plastic and the fact they are made in the USA.

      • Karen: Eastman Tritan is trademarked name for the product. While it is BPA free there are many other substitutes for BPA that are also endocrine disruptors and can pose health concerns. Do to the trademarked nature of Eastman Tritan they are not required to disclose what endocrine disruptors are included in their product. Because of that you are right we do not know what is in but plastic does pose a threat to our health so I try to avoid it as much as I possibly can. I would like to see Vitamix bring back their stainless steel containers to help with this effort (glass I do not think would work because of the functions of their product but I may be incorrect).

        Also as you with see in the other comments make sure that the Tervis cup you purchase is from a production that was BPA free as they have not always been BPA and the nature of their long shelf life makes it possible some BPA cups are still in the market.

  3. Jennifer L says:

    Re your daughter’s princess cup: she could use it for storing her toothbrush (brush side up), colored pencils and things or other craft supplies. This way she’ll be using it, but safely.

  4. Joanna Sarat says:

    chat with Tervis.com

    Britney: Thank you for visiting Tervis.com. Is there anything I can assist you with today?
    Joanna S. : Hi, can you tell me why you are stating that your cups are BPA free although you don’t mark them BPA free (on the bottom of the cup), also there is no plastic number. What’s your plastic number? Thanks
    Britney: Our tumblers have been BPA free since January 1st, 2011.
    Britney: Here is our detailed BPA information.
    Britney: Our drinkware products are BPA Free as of 1/1/2011.
    Britney: Here are some helpful indicators to tell if your Tervis products are made out of the new BPA-free material we began using in recent years or the original material, polycarbonate, which may contain minimal levels of BPA.
    Britney: The first thing is to determine whether item has the new “Tervis” logo across the center of the bottom of the cup — the old design says “Tervis Tumbler” around the edge of the bottom. If it has the new “Tervis” design you can be absolutely sure it’s BPA free. If it has the “Tervis Tumbler” logo, please read below.
    Britney: • The 10oz tumbler has been BPA free since March 2009.  
    Britney: • The 8oz single-walled tumbler, since April 2009.    
    Britney: • The 12oz tumbler was introduced in January 1, 2011 and has therefore always been BPA-free.  
    Britney: • 16oz tumblers can be identified by a # on the bottom of the tumbler under the ounces that should have 11 and greater.
    Britney: • The 24oz tumbler’s inner & outer walls connect at the bottom like a ring or an adapter in between the two walls of the tumbler, when produced in our current BPA-free material.  
    Britney: • The new Mug (15oz) and 10oz wavy, were introduced in January 2011 so they have always been BPA-free.
    Britney: • The Water bottle was introduced in January 2012 so has always been BPA-free.
    Britney: We hired an independent analytics firm to test water that was stored in a selection of our drinkware for up to 48 hours. The firm’s conclusion was that our products from the material we used prior to Jan, 2011 may have the potential for miniscule levels of BPA estimated to be 0.5 parts per billion or less to migrate into water. On that basis, one would need to drink 17,000 16oz glasses or 2,100 gallons of water from our drinkware daily to exceed the recognized safety threshold, Wow, that would be a lot of water!
    Britney: Rest assured that Tervis continues to stand behind the previous material compositions we had been using and understand that we do not consider use of polycarbonate to be a defect or covered under our lifetime guarantee. The transition to the new material was not motivated by concerns with BPA but was determined to be more cost effective while allowing us to maintain our quality standards. Becoming BPA free was an added benefit.
    Britney: The recycle triangle with a number inside that is used on many plastic products that are designed primarily for single use identify the specific type of plastic in the item. These recycle code numbers run from 1 to 7; with 1 to 6 used to identify six specific plastics commonly used. The number 7 is used for all other plastics. If Tervis Tumblers were designed to be recycled by our customers it would fall under the “all other” category number 7. Since our products are designed for lifetime multiple uses and carry a lifetime guarantee, by their very nature are not designed to be recycled by our customers and therefore do not bear the recycle symbol or code. We handle all the recycling at the factory of any tumblers returned under warranty.
    Joanna S. : Are they safe for kids and pregnant women?
    Britney: The details regarding BPA are above. The tumblers have been BPA free since January 1st, 2011.
    Joanna S. : Thank you Britney, I will buy few of Tervis products.
    Britney: You’re welcome.
    Britney: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
    Joanna S. : No, thanks for your help :)
    Britney: Thank you for contacting Tervis. If you have time, we’d appreciate it if you could take a survey to let us know how we’re doing and what we can do better.
    Britney: Please visit us again if you need further assistance or, if you’d just like to talk about our fabulously fun and incredibly functional drinkware.

    • Wow Joanna that is a lot of information. Thanks for sharing it here. I am happy that we now have a better idea of what products were manufactured with BPA free plastic. However, the recycle 7 concerns me because that is the number commonly used for proprietary blended chemicals that a company is not willing to disclose. It concerns me that in the future we may find that this blend is equal or worse for our health than the hormone disruptors in BPA.

      Sounds like Tervis might want us to start mailing back our cups when we are done with them since they can handle recycling in their factory for their plastic 7 that most municipalities cannot accomodate? Probably not but it got me thinking…. stay tuned!

    • Sarbanharble says:

      Interesting that the reply from Tervis when asked, “Are they safe for kids and pregnant women?” only refers to BPA. A simple “Yes” or “No” would be much easier to understand.

  5. Awesome information. Thanks for the share. Keep it up.

  6. I think you have bought into the govt. scare tactics. We have drank and ate from plastic stuff for years…our parents did it…some of their parents did…they are all alright. Its the pure and simple fact that we as a nation have let one state (Cali) dictate everything we do …even how we eat or drink. Everything on earth is known to the state of California to cause some sort of cancer….Well i do not live in California, and i have no use for it. Maybe if we all listened to ourselves and stopped relying on our great leaders to tell us how to live and what to drink or eat out of we could change the world…for the better.

    • I do not agree with you that plastic is safe because we have been using it for years but I do agree that we need to listen to ourselves and stop relying on government to tell us how to live and eat.

    • Sarah H says:

      We cannot compare anything to what our parents did. Plastic today is not the same. Heck, food isn’t even the same. But this train of thought is what the chemical companies count on. As for government scare tactics…you’re backwards. I am horrified by the things our government is turning a blind eye toward. You’ll notice when asked if the product is safe for children and pregnant women the answer wasn’t “yes”. She referred to BPA. They’ve probably replaced it with something equallybdangerous that we don’t know about yet!

      • I agree things are very different today than when our parents were our age and that our government right now is not doing their best to protect us from some of the dangers that is present in our marketplace but that is why we need to educate ourselves… Which is what I hope I do here! :)

  7. Diane Reed says:

    I don’t trust anything the government has a say in anymore. the more people that get disease and then have to take any form of medication the more taxes the government receives from multi billion dollar pharmacy companies. They are all in in together to make us sick and to make themselves richer. PERIOD……..

  8. Steve P says:
  9. BPA free requirements for children’s product sounded great when it was introduced, only the substitutes that the manufacturers turned to were worse, such as BPS. Do the research and you’ll discover plastic has many many BPs from A-Z and they are all as bad if not worse than BPA. Go glass if you want to be sure of what you’re using isn’t going to disrupt your hormones.

    • I agree glass is best. I also agree that all the BP-‘s are bad for our health in some way or another. I have debated this a lot with many people “just because it is BPA free” does not mean it is safe.

  10. I’m coming to this conversation a bit late, but I just received a Tervis tumbler and after doing a search found this post. My kids’ school do not allow glass for their water bottles. My older daughter has an aluminum one that she uses, but my younger prefers plastic (because it doesn’t sweat like the aluminum one). If glass is not an option what is next and do I need to be concerned with the aluminum one (I call it aluminum – I honestly have no idea what it was…other than a gift from the dentist).

    • Karen, I recommend stainless steel (which may be the aluminum that your are referring to). Stainless steel does not contain any chemicals that will contaminate what you put in the bottle. I do warn you if you do have aluminum water bottles or sippy cups they may be lined with a thing layer of plastic that may contain BPA or another BP? I have Klean Kanteen sippy cups for my kids. My oldest is over 4 years old now and she still uses the first ones we bought her. They are not that expensive especially since they last much long than any other cup you can get.

  11. Just talked with rep — they do NOT replace, with their guarantee, for BPA. :(

    They WILL replace any that are cracked or cloudy.

    She said that “one would need to drink 17,000- 16oz glasses or 2,100 gallons of water from our drinkware daily to exceed the recognized safety threshold.”

    They “continue to stand behind the previous material compositions we had been using and understand that we do not consider use of polycarbonate to be a defect or covered under our lifetime guarantee. The transition to new material was not motivated by concerns with BPA but was determined to be more cost-effective while allowing us to maintain our quality standards. Becoming BPA-free was an added benefit.”

    • Thanks for sharing your conversation with them. They are such a popular items at the holidays too!

  12. Thanks for this information! My sister bought me a tervis tumbler – a lovely one with dogwood flowers all over it – for Christmas. I suspected it was a 7 plastic when I couldn’t find a number on it. I think I’ll take your previous posters comment and use it to store my paint brushes. BPA is the catch word for plastic dangers today – who knows what manufacturers are using to replace the BPA with in the “BPA free” plastics in these proprietary blends. The substitutes may be the catch word of plastic danger tomorrow.

  13. In order for a plastic cup to be safe for children it has to be PBA and PVA Free not jus PBA free. Bed Bath and beyond has sippy cups that are PVA free . One of the male clerks at the store was telling me about this . I also had trouble with Tervis. I wanted to recycle my cup at the recycling center and wanted to know what number it was because it needed to be 1-5, and getting a simple answer from the Tervis Company was impossible difficult. So, I put my cups in a drawer in the garage, because whats the point of throwing them away if they go into the landfill. But if you really want safe drinking cups that go with you got to Bed Bath and Beyond and ask them where they have their PVA free tumblers or cups .

  14. This article just came out about Eastman Tritan™ and appears to be corroborating remarks made about them and estrogen leaking.


  15. This article just came out which makes is clear that Eastman Tritan is an endocrine disruptor as well. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe

  16. Leigh, it’s surprising to me that this is a whole blog post wondering if the cups are BPA free or not considering you copy and pasted a statement directly from their website saying that there isn’t.

    “Furthermore, Eastman Tritan™ contains no Bisphenol A. As of January, 2011, we have completed the transition of our entire line of Tervis tumblers to Eastman Tritan™. ”

    Bisphenol A… That is BPA. It’s kind of ironic that you are so against BPA yet didn’t know what it even stood for….

    So to answer your question, the cups have been BPA free since 2011.

    • Lauren-

      This post was written in 2012 when Tervis was not marking their cups as BPA free because they still had a large number of product on the shelves at major retailers that had be manufactured before they changed to the Eastman Tritan. This post was to help people learn how to identify which cups were BPA free and which were not. This post was also intended to give consumers the information about BPA, the concerns and discuss the “proprietary” formula of Eastman Tritan that it should not be assumed as safe because the ingredients have not been disclosed. So while it may not contain BPA it may contain other hormone and endocrine disruptors but we do not know.

      Hope this clears up the intent of the post for you.


  17. Krystal A says:

    I just called a customer rep and they said that if you have the new Tervis logo a cross the bottom (which is just the word “tervis”), then it is BPA free. If you have any other logo, I think the old ones used to say “tervistumbler,” then you have an old non-BPA-free one. Also, the numbers on the bottom are indicators. The number within the circle is the year made and the other number, if 9 or higher, means that the tumbler is BPA free. This helps because some tumblers were made BPA-free prior to 2011. Hope this helps!

  18. I have a few Travis tumblers and have noticed that one of them taste like soap no matter what I do to it. I think after reading this I will no use them any more.