No Deposit, No Return: Disposable Bottles Are Taking Over

The colas are coming! disposable bottles, with cans close behind.

| March/April 1972

  • disposable bottles
    Not surprisingly, the switch to disposable bottles created more litter.

  • disposable bottles

Once the world was considered flat. Then it became round. Now it's generally seen as pear-shaped. But to a few international salesmen in New York, the world is something else altogether—round at the bottom, narrow at the neck and topped with a twist-off cap. To these men, all the world is a soda pop bottle — the no-deposit, no-return kind — and sometimes their world of disposable bottles gets shaken up a bit.

Take for example the almost legendary battle between the two soft drink giants, Coke and Pepsi, on the tiny island of Formosa in the 1960s. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was angry with the Pepsi people and about to cancel their concession. Coke was gaining a toehold on the island. What was Pepsi to do?

In a bold stroke of diplomacy, Pepsi sent its heaviest lawyer — Richard Nixon — to Formosa, and within a few days Nixon had settled the problem, sewing up the Taiwan market for his clients. The fizz subsided. The Pepsi generation kept together. Even today, only Pepsi is bottled in Formosa.

As the anecdote suggests, American soft drink companies compete fiercely and worldwide, especially Coke and Pepsi . . . each of which sells its product in more than 120 countries.

With the current thaw in East-West relations, more new markets have begun to open up, and one result has been a virtual American soft drink blitz into Eastern Europe.

In the last few years people in Yugoslavia, Hungary and Bulgaria have all been introduced to Coke and Pepsi. Coca-Cola has managed to remain in Czechoslovakia despite a recent crackdown on other pro-Western enterprises, and Pepsi has announced that it will appear in Poland next year.

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