If the bottle is empty, a bear won't bother it. In fact, take the lid off so the bear can really see (smell) it. Bear is not going to waste any time crunching plastic that is empty.
Steve, your personal history with bears doesn't seem to have improved your care in giving safety advice. Whether you like to consider it or not, some of the readers may visit the Whitney Zone themselves and most who do will travel through Whitney Portal. For those who do, your advice is endangering there.
A portal bear may not eat an empty plastic bottle, but she may peel open your car door to find out if the bottle she sees is empty. (You are right of course, as far as the bottle is concerned, this won't "bother it".) Rangers also take exception to any kind of food or water container visible in vehicles and they don't bother to smell first either.
At the portal, packs "look like food" so bears have stolen and will steal packs and rip them open before taking time to smell them. The bears don't seem to eat the cameras, GPS units or binoculars and you might find them in daylight the next morning.
I had a guy at the portal one night ask me if I had seen his pack. He had set the pack at his feet and leaned in to his car door to pick up something across the seat. When he stood back, his pack was gone. He was able to borrow enough gear from people in the parking lot to make his day hike and his wife found the camera/GPS/binoculars in the morning so he did not have to carry them. Maybe the bear wasn't hungry but just laying the ultralight manifesto on the dude.
Dale B. Dalrymple