A CLOSURE FIGHTING FOOD WASTE
It is always exciting to see how far some innovations have come. A current case: the London-based start-up Mimica. Its founder, Solveiga Pakštaitė, primarily wanted to develop a bottle cap that would give people with impaired vision information about the shelf life of the product. As a rule, such info is only printed on the packaging and thus cannot be recognised by visually impaired people.
Pakštaitė's solution: A cap that tells you by its surface texture alone whether the content still has some shelf-life left. When the product goes off, tactile nubs will form on the cap. Not only does this new development enable visually impaired people to feel whether the packaged product has not expired, but it also gives all consumers the certainty that the product is still fit for consumption – even if the printed best-before date has already passed. An invention originally intended "only" for a small section of the population has thus become a packaging solution that is effective across the board.
But how does the cap work? Even if a lot of brainpower is behind the development, the actual solution is relatively simple. After extensive testing and experimentation, Pakštaitė managed to calibrate a gel that never comes into contact with the product, but allows a special label to change from smooth to uneven depending on storage conditions and food profile.
COOPERATION WITH UNITED CAPS
This solution also convinced Luxembourg-based company United Caps. Together with Mimica, the packaging specialists developed what the company says is a fully recyclable cap that does not compromise the recyclability of the bottle itself, but gives consumers a quick and convenient way to make sure the beverage is still fit for consumption.
The Mimica bottle closure arrives at the bottling line in two parts: One is the base of the cap, which has been tested by leading filling line manufacturers and requires only minor modifications to the production line. The other is the top part of the cap, which is applied with a special machine after filling. Like other modules, for example for labelling or film wrapping, this machine can be easily integrated into production lines. The closure cap, on which the tactile protrusions are formed, is only activated automatically by consumers when they open the bottle for the first time by twisting the cap.
Tactile nubs form on the surface of the cap as soon as the contents of the bottle are no longer fit for consumption.
"Throughout our entire history", says Benoit Henckes, CEO of United Caps, "we have invested extensively in innovation in research and development. We believe that this innovation by Mimica sets new standards and will have a profound impact on the use of closures. The same applies to the contribution of this product to reducing waste and CO2 emissions, as well as to influencing purchasing decisions".
Currently, the new bottle closure is undergoing a pilot project in the UK with an orange juice brand. As part of the pilot project and further research by United Caps, it was determined that 121 million kilograms of orange juice end up as waste every year in the UK alone. According to the company, using a Mimica Touchcap, it would be possible to reduce this waste volume by 44 %, which corresponds to an annual juice volume of about 53 million litres.