From Clay to Glass

From the ancient ages man has been attempting to store food and liquids with a minimal loss in quality and minimal decomposition, to make sure they are fit for human consumption for as long as possible. Good packaging also made the storage and shipment easier. Here are some prime examples from old times.

Hundreds of years ago mineral waters were shipped to the consumers in thick walled jars which were not too handy, not to mention their high expenses. These jars were closed with corks which – especially in hot weather – lasted only if they were tied and sealed. And as the saying goes: “So oft goeth the pitcher to the well, that at last it commeth broken home.” (1584, J. Withals Dict. (rev. ed.)

This bottling technique was gradually replaced by the bottle with stoppers which were still in use after World War II. Some foreign beer producers still use this kind of bottling to the great amusement of some nostalgic costumers. The standard size bottles with screw bottle tops were introduced in the industry in the seventies. This kind of bottle has become amazingly widespread in some parts of the world: in Germany for example 70 percent of the waters drawn from mineral water wells are distributed in these standardized bottles which might do the round trip between the bottling plant and the consumer up to 40-50.

The standardized bottle evokes trust in the customer even though their labelling differs. There is an unbelievable quantity, 2 billion pieces of these standardized bottles on the market. It has quite a few advantages in the complicated business of bottle redemption. Beverage shops, malls, the representatives of the catering industry as well as consumers can return these bottles in standardized cases regardless of their brand and/or place of origin.

But the era of standardized bottles is coming to an end – at least to the opinion of specialists. Brands try to attract attention to their own product with beauty or distinction. The trend is excellently illustrated by a recent example: two well-known mineral water producers both asked the most famous designer studio, the Italian Pininfarina (mostly active in automobile industry) to design their new bottle.

Some companies have come out with mineral waters of special form like spray recommended for cosmetic use and to refresh the sensitive, dried out skin.