What Is a Bottle?

A bottle is a container that holds liquids. It typically has straight sides and a narrow neck, and it is usually made of glass or plastic. The word “bottle” also refers to a person or thing that is bottled up: He had so much anger stored up inside him, he was literally a bottle of gas.

The majority of today’s bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, a thermoplastic polymer that can be either opaque or transparent. Most of the PET in bottles is produced from petroleum hydrocarbons, but there are several companies working on developing alternative raw materials for PET production. One company, Origin Materials, plans to make a version of PET called FDCA (furan dilaurate) from lignocellulosic feedstocks such as cornstarch or sugarcane. Another company, Polymer Energy, is working on a process that could produce FDCA from ethylene, which is also made from petroleum.

In addition to PET, other plastics are also used for bottle production. These include PP, LDPE, and PC. In general, these plastics are derived from fossil fuels, although PP and LDPE can be recycled using a process similar to that of PET. PC is used primarily for high-end reusable bottles, such as those found on water coolers and in lab settings. It is synthesized from bisphenol A and phosgene, and it is very expensive compared to other bottle-making polymers.

Depending on the material used, the bottle can be formed by a variety of blow molding techniques. These can include reheat and blow molding, co-extrusion blow molding, and injection molding. Injection-molded bottles are relatively rare, and they may be used when the container needs very tight tolerances.

Bottles are a vital part of modern life. They help store everything from soft drinks to medicine to gasoline. They can even serve as a building block for advanced technology, such as fiber optic cables and smartphones. But they are a major source of environmental waste. When discarded, they can take hundreds of years to break down into smaller particles that enter the ocean and become part of the Pacific Garbage Patch or other global gyres of marine debris.

While many of us are aware that a bottle of plastic isn’t the best choice for the environment, we often don’t think about how those bottles get to be so ubiquitous in our lives. A recent study by researchers at Penn State suggests that a new type of bottle might be able to cut down on plastic pollution, but it will require some major changes in design. In the meantime, we need to be more careful when consuming beverages in plastic bottles and be sure to recycle those that aren’t needed anymore. We also need to demand that our beverage producers use less plastic in their products and create a system of national or regional deposit systems where consumers can return empty bottles for recycling. This is the only way we will reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our world.