How the Plastic Bottle Went From Miracle Container to Hated Garbage

Author:Suny Group

It is difficult to pinpoint the moment the modern plastic beverage bottle changed the world’s drinking habits but it didn.’t take consumers long to buy into the notion that they needed water within reach virtually everywhere they went. What sets bottles apart from other plastic products born in the post-World War II rise of consumerism is the sheer speed with which the beverage bottle, now ubiquitous around the world, has shifted from convenience to curse. The transition played out in a single generation.

“The plastic bottle transformed the beverage industry and it changed our habits in many ways,” says Peter Gleick, co-founder and president emeritus of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, and author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.

“We’ve become a society that seems to think if we don’t have water at hand, terrible things will happen. It’s kind of silly. It’s not as though anybody died from thirst in the old days,” he says.

By 2016, the year sales of bottled water in the United States officially surpassed soft drinks, the world had awakened to the burgeoning crisis of plastic waste. The backlash against the glut of discarded bottles clogging waterways, polluting the oceans and littering the interior has been swift. Suddenly, carrying plastic bottles of water around is uncool.

Plastic bottles and bottle caps rank as the third and fourth most collected plastic trash items in the Ocean Conservancy’s annual September beach cleanups in more than 100 countries. Activists are zeroing in on the bottle as next in line for banning, after plastic shopping bags. The tiny towns of Concord, Massachusetts and Bundanoon, Australia already have banned bottles, as have numerous public parks, museums, universities, and zoos in Europe and the United States.