Bottle, Bottles and Bottling
Bottle, Bottles and Bottlings
The universal container we take for granted, the glass bottle probably had its humble beginnings in Syria about 100 years before Christ when the art of blowing air through a hollow tube into a blob of molten glass forming a hollow vessel was discovered.
Glass is made from a mixture of sand and lime which is slowly heated to a temperature of 2500 degrees Fahrenheit where the ingredients fuse. The early glass blowers would then let the molten glass cool to about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve the right consistency for blowing into bottles.
Conditions were harsh in the early bottle factories. Heat and grime were always present and production in the typical shop was limited to about 1500 bottles per day by crews of three blowers and three helpers.
Many of the blown bottles produced were varying shades of green and blue (sometimes referred to as aqua). These colors were most prominent because of the iron impurities found in the raw materials.
By purposely adding certain impurities to the raw glass mixture, many bottle color combinations became available to the early bottle makers.
Comercial Exploitation of Bottled Mineral Water
In Europe beginning in the late seventeen hundreds, it became fashionable to visit the natural mineral springs to either drink of the "healthful" waters or to bathe in them. The wealthy promoted and gathered at these "watering places" or spas which catered to their needs and their pocketbooks.
Spas were also becoming popular in the New World, and as early as 1767, the waters of Jackson's Spa in Boston were bottled and sold to satisfy a rapidly growing demand for its therapeutic miracles.
About 1800, the waters of a mineral spring near Albany, NY were bottled commercially, and in 1820, the first Saratoga Springs bottled water was sold.
The bottling of natural mineral waters peaked in the late 1800's, and by 1900 was being phased out by the increasing use of "Soda Waters".
Soda Waters take off
The chronological separation between the bottling of "natural spring waters", and artificially produced "soda waters" is vague at best, and the bottling of each proceeded together for a number of years in the early 1900's. Commercial development of soda water was hastened by several technological breakthroughs.
In 1767, an English scientist named Joseph Priestly began experiments to "stimulate the fixed air found in natural waters". In one of his attempts, he used a primitive apparatus to pour water from one vessel to another held near fermenting vats at a local brewery. He found that the water easily absorbed gas later identified as carbon dioxide, the same modern-day "ffzz" that tickles our tonsils in our favorite sodas. Priestly published his findings in a paper titled "Directions for Impregnating Water with Fixed Air".
As early as 1806, a Professor at Yale University, Benjamin Sillman was reported to have produced small quantities of artificially carbonated water in New Haven, CT.
It is believed that the first carbonated soft drink was made in Philadelphia in 1807, when Dr. Philip Syng Physick, the father of American Surgery, asked a chemist to prepare carbonated water for a patient. Flavor was added to make the drink more palatable. The main problem at the dawn of soda pop was finding a way to add natural juices to carbonated water without fermentation ruining the drink.
Carbonated beverages did not achieve widespread popularity until 1832, when John Mathews invented an apparatus for charging water with carbon dioxide gas.
The Bottle Revolution
Thus far, the development of mineral and soda waters has been traced to the beginnings of our modern day flavored sodas. This is a good point in the discussion to outline the evolution of containers used for the rapidly growing soda industry.
In the early days of mineral waters, the closure of choice was the cork stopper. In order to maintain a proper seal, it was necessary to keep the cork stopper moist. One of the methods used most commonly in Europe was to invert the bottle to keep the liquid in continuous contact with the cork. The bottoms of the bottles were rounded to prevent them from standing upright.
As noted, the early bottles were hand blown and rather crude compared with later machine made bottles The first bottles used for mineral and soda waters were called blob tops, named for the mass of glass used to form the lip on the bottle. Tops were applied in a separate operation during manufacture.
In 1857, Henry Putman of Cleveland, Oh, invented a wire clamp retainer for cork stoppered bottles. Putman's "better way" was closely followed by John Matthews, Jr's "gravitating stopper. In 1873, the ball stoppered bottle closure referred to as the "Coda stopper", was patented in the U.S. by Hiram Cold of England. In 1874, Charles de Quillfeldt of New York, patented the "Lightning Stopper".
Finally in 1879, Charles G. Hutchinson, the son of a prominent Chicago bottler invented a spring-type internal bottle closure known as the "Hutchinson Stopper" whose popularity during the period made it almost a standard. In fact, so many were used chat the bottles produced during the years to follow are referred to as "Hutchinson Bottles".
Stoppered bottles were still being used by some small American companies as late as the 1920's, but laws restricting their use because they were unsanitary, brought an end to an exciting era in bottling.
The demise of stoppered bottles was brought about at the turn of the century by two historic innovations in the bottling industry.
In 1892, William Painter, a Baltimore machine shop operator was awarded a patent on the crown-cork bottle seal, an invention chat quickly became a standard for the industry and replaced over a thousand different types of bottle sealing devices in use at the time.
The second major change in bottling occurred in 1903 when the first successful automatic bottle blowing machine was put in operation by its inventor, Michael J. Owens, an employee of Libby Glass Company. By 1910, the new machines were producing over 57,000 bottles a day, a dramatic improvement over the 1500 bottles per day produced by hand a few years earlier. These automatic bottle machine bottles are sometimes referred to as ABM bottles by collectors to separate them from the "blob-top" and Hutchinson bottle era
First Plastic Bottle for Perrier (August 2001)
The move away from the iconic trademark glass bottle, which for almost 100
years has set the design standard in mineral water packaging, is being launched across Europe. Conceived in France by packaging specialist dragon rouge, the custom-made PET (polyethylene terephthalate) container uses two layers of plastic with a layer of nylon in between. weighing approximately 36 grams, the PET bottles are two-stage injection stretch blow-moulded.
The company set up a PET production line, at a cost of 6,8 million euros, to enable the launch of a 50cl format that is particularly suited to the out-of-home circuit, in particular the on the go market. PET did pose a challenge for the brand. It took 11 years of research to find a material that would retain the flavor and handle the estimated 50 million bubbles (who counts them?) in each bottle. The addition of nylon has so far proved 'bubble proof'.
Pressure on Perrier to re-think its glass has come both from retailers, who say it is heavy to lift and dangerous if broken, and from young consumers, who prefer the convenience of plastic.
Bottle to Bottle Policy
The grass roots recycling network's (GRRN) aim is to pressure corporations to take
responsibility for the environmental impacts of its manufacturing processes, materials and resource-use and to urge them to invest in reduction, reuse and recycling practices. In 1990, amidst the heat of the Cola battles with Pepsi, Coca Cola loudly announced their pledge to help create a market for #1 PET bottles.
Coke officials promised to begin using recycled plastic in #1 PET bottles. It was great news that the largest beverage company in the world was going to set a precedent and show sound corporate leadership. Years later, Coca-Cola has still not followed through on its promise. The failed promise has been a major factor in the collapse of the soda bottle
If the major soft drink and water companies were to use 25 percent recycled content
in their PET soda bottles, the container recycling Institute estimates that they could
boost the PET soda bottle recycling rate from 36 percent to 61 percent.
What would it cost the soda bottle industry to use 25 percent recycled plastic in their bottles? One beverage industry publication reported that soft drink bottlers were making a profit of more than 21 cents per bottle. Adding 25 percent post-consumer recycled content would cost only one-tenth of a penny per bottle. Profits would still be 20.9 cents per bottle!
Soda Bottle History