How Nalgene makes its water bottles

  • Nalgene’s iconic water bottle has been around for 70 years.
  • It’s considered one of the original sports water bottles.
  • We got a peek behind the scenes to learn how the brand makes them.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The following is a transcript of the video.

Nalgene produces over 20 million reusable water bottles per year. And in their 70 years of business, they have become one of the most iconic water-bottle brands in the US, especially among campers and outdoorsy types. Making these bottles is a pretty involved process, and we got a behind-the-scenes look at the 97,000-square-foot facility in Rochester, New York, to see exactly what that process is. First, 45,000 pounds of plastic pellets arrive by truck from Tennessee. The pellets are stored in giant silos until they make their way into the factory. Nalgene prides itself on being an American-made product, and the company says that by making the bottles locally, each one has a 90% smaller carbon footprint than a similar one manufactured overseas and shipped to the US. From there, colorant is blended into the pellets, which determines the colour of the bottle. Each batch uses about 40 pounds of colorant. Today, Nalgene can make over 75 differently coloured bottles. Fernando Galiana: You know, when we’re looking at colours, we’re looking at trends in the marketplace, we’re looking at sort of the occasion the customer’s gonna use the bottles in. Narrator: The mix of pellets and colour is melted and sent into the injection moulding machine. This machine is where the actual bottles are made. At the moulding machine, plastic is then inflated into 150 pounds per square inch of air to create the classic 32-ounce indestructible bottle. What makes Nalgene’s bottle indestructible? Galiana: It’s really about the design and the material and the combination, and just the way that we mould the plastics, the way the curve of the radius of the bottle is, you know, just takes the properties of the plastic and knits it together in such a way that it forms a really, really durable product. Narrator: Next, the lids, straps, and buttons are made, which make up the top part of the bottle. A liquid plastic is poured into another moulding machine, which creates the three parts. The parts are attached by the machine’s arm. They’re then inspected to make sure each part is securely attached to one another. Once they’re approved, the lids, straps, and buttons aren’t put onto the bottles just yet. The bottles must first get sent to the printing facility. This is where the signature Nalgene label gets put onto them. The printing machine works ultrafast to label the bottles. So fast that about 52 bottles are labelled per minute. They’re then sent down the conveyor belt, where the lids and straps are finally attached. The finished bottles are then packed up and shipped out to stores and customers.

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