Why aren’t bottlers (soda/beer/wine) reusing glass/plastic bottles like milk bottlers were in the ’50s.


Is it a major loss in profit or do current bottles make it impossible?

In: 5764

At least in Canada they absolutely do reuse glass beer bottles many times. I don’t think plastic bottles can be reused but they are made into new bottles as far as I know.


Unless you’re a large mfg, it’s generally going to be less expensive to purchase new sterile glass containers.

The startup cost to reuse (take in dirty, wash and sterilize) is high. You need a lot of volume to get it down to where it’s more cost effective to recycle.

All beer bottles here in Ontario, Canada are recycled. Something like 98% reuse. And all liquor, spirits and wine bottles can be recycled at the same store (dunno how many are reused vs. just recycled). So its not like the infrastructure can’t exist or work. And you can get milk in 1L glass bottles now that you return for a deposit.

I’d be totally down for all juices and sodas to go back to glass bottles. Which, might be sooner than we thought given that Canada just made most single use plastics outlaw come December. But pop and juice bottles here are typically the bulk of our blue bin plastics that ARE successfully recycled, so who knows.

Unlike glass bottles, There’s no way to clean plastic bottles thoroughly enough to be safely reused as food containers (in a commercial sense; you can wash and reuse plastic for personal re-use a few times before it gets too gross) without destroying them. Even when you recycle them they are mostly recycled into something a ‘step down’ like car parts, and rarely become bottles again. Glass bottles can be fully recycled and since the process involves melting the bottles it’s possible to make the end product food-safe sanitary again.

However, even glass bottles don’t frequently get reused because the logistics of getting a bottle back to the distributor would require a whole team of people to support the collection, cleanup, and transport of the bottles. Human labor costs scale poorly compared to new materials costs so most companies choose to just use new bottles instead of trying to reclaim old ones