Think More



1988 Hanseong
Olympic Game
Cocacola Plastic Bottle


The Mystery of the Eternal Plastics

This magical material can be broken, sliced, diced, torn, burnt and buried, but it just will not cease to exist.

– "Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century"

Currently, most of the beverage bottles are made from PET plastic with "1" as the number marked on the bottom of a bottle, signifying that it is made of a type of polyester. Why?

“Because PET plastic possesses the quality of being light, transparent, resistance to shock, and not easily shattered. It is also non-toxic and does not carry any odour, which can be used directly as food packaging, where carbon dioxide cannot penetrate and escape, keeping your drinks carbonated.” said Ms. Jiang Nan Qing, secretary general of Plastics Recycling and Reusing of China Synthetic Resin Association (CPRRA).

The problem is, these special characteristics are favourable for beverage manufacturers, but it is a disaster for the environment.

* Exact time varies by product type and marine conditions. Cigeratte butts and grocery bags are an upper estimate.
US’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Even if we can tackle the 1988 Hanseong Olympic PET bottle, there are still many more left on Earth

In all the beverages sold in Hong Kong, the packaging materials used includes plastic bottles (65%), Tetra Pak drinks (17%), metals (16%) and glass (2%) and also bags and other materials.

"Drink Without Waste Strategies and Actions Report"

Between 2008 and 2018,, Hong Kong threw away 5 million beverage plastic bottles per day on average into the landfills in the span of 11 years. If we count those not be thrown into rubbish/ recycling bins, there would be more than 20 billion beverage plastic bottles.

Why start counting from 2008? In 2004, the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr. Sarah Liao published "A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)".The framework proposed to launch a series of Producer Responsibility Schemes from 2008 onwards, which includes plastic beverage containers.

However, over a decade, what should have arrived never did; what shouldn’t have come, they came and stayed. Just as the 1988 Olympic PET bottle, another 20 billion bottles that arrived stayed. In a cliché: if we could line up all the bottles, they could surround the Earth at least 100 times.


Story of Design: Mirage of the Plastic Bottle Design

Looking at this bottle of Coke and you will think, “there’s some left?”

HA! Gotcha! This black bottom piece has got a name, which brought a new word into the Urban Dictionary “Bevemirage”. “Beve” is the short form of “beverage”, while the ending “mirage” is exactly what it means. It tells you that you’ve been tricked by the design.

The early designs of PET bottles were limited by old technology. The bottom piece is a semi-sphere which requires an additional flat bottom piece to make it stand upright. The problem is that it increases material usage and cost of production and does not facilitate recycling. Subsequently, manufacturers have improved the design by making a concave bottom with a pattern of flower petals, allowing the bottle to stand upright without any additional support.





Remember before the appearance of plastic bottles, glass bottles were the main beverage containers? Why has it changed?