On this day, August 28, 1969 the German Association of Mineral Water Sources (Deutsche Brunnen) introduced the Normbrunnenflasche (please do not make me translate it).
The bottle was part of an early recycling system based on refundable deposits. 0.15 DM was added to the price of each bottle, which would be returned if the customer brings the bottle back.
The bottle is an icon of German design developed by Gunther Kupertz. One of its two great innovations were the screw top that facilitated the re-use of the bottle and the “pearls” around the top that improved grip. Glass bottles would be refilled about 50 times before being recycled. The standardisation was driven by the success of the Coca Cola company. Small German manufacturers feared that if they kept their individual bottles, the refund system would become too complex logistically. So they pooled together.
Over 5.5bn bottles have been manufactured since the late 1960s and the recycling system is still in operation, though bottles are now mostly made from plastic which is lighter.
For more interesting stories check out the History of the Germans Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other purveyors of fine audio entertainment. Alternatively check out my website historyofthegermans.com.