History and Future of the Plastic Water Bottle

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.

The History

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, as stated by Plastics Make It Possible and The Kitchen:

  • 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.

The Future

It’s no secret that the demand for plastic bottles is still growing. While water, soda, and other foods are regularly packaged and served in plastic, newfound uses for plastic packaging includes use in storage for alcohol, such as with individual portable plastic wine cups.

Recently, the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) released a report stating that bottles and jars make up around 75% of plastic containers. Mark Garrison, PLASTICS’ Senior Vice President of Membership and Business Development, went on to say that, “The bottling segment of our industry is projected to grow six percent over the next three years.”

The publication Plastics Today also wrote about how PET and HDPE are striving to push plastic bottle growth. Here are some interesting statistics from their article:

  • Shipments and purchases of plastic machinery have increased annually for over the past 6 years
  • The single serve water bottle market is one of the largest plastic bottle packaging markets and is estimated to increase sales by 6%, and is also continuing to beat out plastic packaging for carbonated soda drinks
  • Around 86% of the plastics market is taken up by HDPE (High-density polyethylene) and PET products

And while the use of plastics will continue to grow, it’s important to note that recycling the plastics we use is highly important. This is where Shini USA can step in to help.

Contact Shini USA for Your Plastic Recycling Needs!

At Shini USA, we make a wide range of plastics recycling machines to help your business reach its goals and reduce plastic waste. Contact us today to learn more!