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The History of the Plastic Water Bottle
Dec 10, 2018

From plastics’ beginnings in the late 1800s to its expected developments by 2020 and beyond, a lot of fascinating innovations have taken place.

One particular plastic product, water bottles, have come a long way over the years and have a lot of potential to make advancements in the coming years. Keep reading to learn more about the history and future of plastic water bottles.

Here is a brief timeline of the most notable events in history concerning how plastic was created, and how it became popular among a number of industries.

1622 – The UK’s Holy Well bottling plant is the first to start selling bottled water.

Later, in the 1700s, selling bottled water begins to grow popular around Europe and in the United States.

The mineral water used in the bottles is from natural springs that consumers believe to be therapeutic because they supposedly contain “healing” capabilities. From this, bottled water was often sold in pharmacies and drug stores until the 1900s.

1862 – Alexander Parkes displays the first manmade plastic at the Great International Exhibition. The material, named Parkesine, comes from the organic compound cellulose, and when it is heated, it can be molded and then kept in its form when it cools.

1946 – Dr. Jules Montenie develops the first major commercial plastic spray bottle. He creates a plastic bottle for his spray-able deodorant called “Stopette.”

Fun fact: He was also a sponsor of the hit television show, “What’s My Line.” His support of the show led to the widespread adoption of plastic bottles.

1973 – PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are patented. The first plastic bottles capable of holding carbonated drinks, they become a much cheaper solution to glass bottling.

2000s – The debate between tap water vs. bottled water begins, with companies starting to tease consumers’ fears of getting sick from tap water. Brita played off these public fears to become a major feature of the industry.

2007 – “Lightweighting” for the two-liter plastic beverage bottle and the one-gallon plastic milk jug reaches a new record. Both containers shed a third of their weight since they became widely used in the 1970s.

2008 – The recycling rate of plastic bottles reaches 27%, which translates to around 2.4 billion pounds of plastic.

2012 – The annual consumption of water from plastic bottles in the U.S. hits 9.67 billion gallons, which is estimated to be around 30.8 gallons per person. More recently, water bottle sales have reached $11.8 billion.