In 1972, while travelling in East Africa, Philip Baldwin falls in with a German couple, Walter and Katrin Hufnagel. They share a love of climbing that will form the basis of a lasting friendship, but also an interest in the making of bottles.

Walter Hufnagel is a brilliant chemical engineer. The year they meet, he has just made the great breakthrough of his career. The material known as the fabric polyester – or, when used in packaging, PET – has been around for decades, but attempts to use it for the bottling of carbonated drinks have foundered on its permeability: the bottles may be lighter ...


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