What Is a Bottle?

A narrow-necked, rigid or semirigid container primarily used for holding liquids. Bottles may be made of glass or plastic. The name derives from the part of a bottle with a neck smaller than its body, which provides a mouth for pouring or sucking. Bottles are widely used for drinking water and other beverages, but also serve in medical applications such as enema and feeding tubes. They are also a common item found on the shelves of stores and pharmacies.

A common type of bottle is a glass one, a material that has been used for both practical and decorative purposes since ancient times. Glass is relatively hard, brittle and impervious to the elements, which makes it useful for containers such as jugs and bowls. The chemical composition of glass is essentially silica sand mixed with sodium oxide and calcium carbonate. Iron impurities give a greenish color, which can be corrected by adding selenium and cobalt oxide to the melting mix.

In the past, bottles were often hand-blown or pressed to form their shape. Today, bottles are usually formed by blow molding or other forms of plastic extrusion. The plastics used to make bottles are often derived from petroleum, with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) being the most common. The production process for PET releases pollutants such as nickel, ethylene oxide and benzene into the wastewater, which can then leak back into soil or waterways.

Plastics have provided numerous benefits in the modern world, but they can also be a significant source of pollution. For example, single-use plastic water bottles are a major component of ocean debris. When these bottles reach the end of their life, they can be carried by wind or storms to sewers, rivers and other waterways that ultimately deposit them in the ocean. Plastic bottles, along with other plastic waste, take a long time to break down in the environment, and can leach chemicals and toxins into surrounding soils or water bodies.

Despite the negative environmental effects of plastic bottles, people around the world continue to use them. Entrepreneurs have developed a wide range of uses for recycled bottles, including printer ink cartridges, fence posts, carpets, and even houses. In laboratories, chemists are working on ways to biodegrade or compost the plastics used to make bottles.

As the world faces the challenge of global climate change, many companies are seeking alternatives to fossil fuels to power their manufacturing processes and produce their bottles. One such alternative is furan, a plant-based compound that produces the same chemical properties as PET but has the potential to be made more durable. The use of this material could significantly reduce the amount of oil required to manufacture a single water bottle in the United States. Currently, 17 million barrels of oil are consumed annually to meet the American demand for water bottles. Eliminating the use of just these bottles would save enough crude oil to fuel one million cars for a year.