Glass is a hard, often transparent substance created by fusing sand with lime and soda in heat, then quickly cooled. However, the term is often used to describe any solid that has a non-crystalline amorphous structure. Glassmaking began around 3500 BC in Mesopotamia or ancient Egypt, with beads being the first archaeological evidence discovered. History of the glass bottle however, begins around 1500 BC, with evidence suggesting glass bottles and other containers were made by coating molten glass onto sand. This method was later replaced by glassblowing, a process in which molten glass is inflated into a bubble. Evidence suggests the glassblowing technique was created along the Syro-Palestinian coast by a Syrian craftsman during 1st century BC.
In the early 1600s, settlers in Jamestown invented a glass melting furnace, marking the beginning of the glass bottle industry in the U.S. Although glass bottles had practical and decorative usages, they remained fairly expensive as they could only be made by individual glass bottle makers. Then, in 1903, Michael J. Owens of West Virginia invented the automatic glass bottle blowing machine. This invention allowed glass bottles to be a commodity, since it could mass-produce bottles and jars as long as they were a uniform size. By 1920, there were already 5000 bottlers in the U.S., and mass-produced glass bottle beverages were the standard packaging for waters, sodas, and more. It wasn’t until the1970s when PET plastic bottles were invented, that glass bottled drinks began their decline, with PET being more durable and inexpensive.
Despite the decline of glass bottled beverages, there are many reasons why glass bottles are still being used, especially for alcoholic beverages and specialty drinks. Plastic bottles and aluminum cans often transmit unwanted tastes into the liquid, interrupting true flavor. Glass on the other hand, preserves a purity of taste, and is the only food packaging that has been granted the highest standard: an FDA status of “GRAS” or “generally recognized as safe.” As a result, many beverage companies that aim for quality over mass-production will choose to use glass bottles. In addition, beverages in glass bottles have a longer shelf life, offering additional months to years for carbonated drinks and years for alcoholic beverages. Because air can seep through plastic, CO2 escapes, and soft drinks lose their carbonation over time. Consumer concern over plastic’s effects have caused a rise in demand for glass, with water in glass bottles now taking over 20-30% of the water bottle industry. Many also love it for the aesthetic, as glass bottles make for neat collectables. As of 2006, 35 billion glass containers were produced in the U.S. alone, with 80% of the number being for beverages.
Glass bottles are 100% recyclable, sometimes even made with glass from decades earlier. By recycling a glass bottle instead of producing a new one from raw materials, less energy is used, and the environment helped. Glass bottle drinks have always been the trusted choice for taste, health and the environment. However, their heavy weight and the fact that they are fragile is a downside, so many consumers prefer other containers when it comes to on-the-go beverages. Whether you are seeking drinks in glass bottles for taste, or drinks in plastic bottles for convenience, our Specialty Sodas website has options for you.