A Brief History of Bottles and Cans


Large corporations profit from making disposable products that end up as waste. To avoid paying for the waste they make, these corporations launched public ad campaigns to make people feel personally responsible for garbage.

Here’s how they did it:

1930s: Virtually 100 percent of beverage bottles were sold in refillable glass bottles. These bottles were collected by local drink manufacturers, who washed them and refilled them many times before they were thrown away.

1940s: After World War II, beverage companies started using disposable metal beverage cans to make a greater profit. Cans are cheap to produce and eliminate the cost of transporting refillable containers.

1953: Vermont passed the first law banning the sale of non-refillable beverage bottles. Fearing that more states would adopt similar laws, a group of beverage and bottle companies created the Keep America Beautiful organization, which promoted litter prevention through personal responsibility.

cryingindian11971: In response to growing public concern about environmental damage, Keep America Beautiful launched an ad featuring a Native American crying over litter in the environment.

The message of the ad promoted personal responsibility with the tagline, “People start pollution; people can stop it.”

1980s: Increased public awareness put pressure on drink manufacturers and bottlers who were producing large amounts of waste from their products. Beverage companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Coors, along with bottle manufacturers, began promoting recycling. Instead of corporations paying for recycling, the public
pays for it through tax dollars.

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