‘Intelligent’ bottle cap developed to cut food waste: ‘Gel technology is much more accurate than a best-before date’
Luxembourg-based manufacturer of caps and closures, United Caps, has announced the development of a new closure, thanks to an exclusive partnership with UK-based label innovator Mimica.
The concept for the Mimica Touchcap was born out of a design project headed up by Mimica’s founder Solveiga Pakštaitė, who wanted to make expiry dates inclusive for visually impaired people.
At the same time, Pakštaitė made the link between expiry dates and food waste. Food waste is responsible for up to 10% of the world’s greenhouse gases, and in developed countries, food waste mostly occurs in the home.
This can occur when food is not stored at the correct temperatures, but a significant proportion is associated with consumers not using food labels effectively, or not knowing when food is still good to consume.
Mimica’s technology seeks to provide real-time information about the condition of food, while also being accessible to the visually impaired and cognitively challenged.
The Mimica Touchcap contains a gel, which never comes in contact with the product. While the closure is smooth when the product is fresh, the gel changes the texture from smooth to bumpy if a product is no longer fresh.
Together in partnership, United Caps and Mimica developed a fully recyclable cap that does not affect bottle recyclability. The closure – made up of a base cap and over cap – come from United Caps. The activator and gel were invented by Mimica. The closure also includes a bumps tray and a top foil label – which is the part that becomes bumpy as food deteriorates.
For United Caps, the innovation hits the mark on sustainability and return on investment for brands who adopt it. “If just two days of shelf life could be added to food products, retail waste could be cut by 50%, and home waste of perishable products could be cut by 63%,” said United Caps CEO, Benoit Henckes.
“Brands who adopt this technology could increase sales by at least 10%, including the willingness of consumers to purchase larger containers of products, such as orange juice, without worrying as much about spoilage prior to full consumption.”
Indeed, beverage wastage often makes consumers less likely to repurchase a product or reduce purchasing frequency. According to United Caps research, two-thirds of consumers said they would buy larger bottles of juice if they were able to finish them by the expiry date.
A pilot project is currently underway in the UK with an orange juice brand. Through this pilot, as well as other United Caps research, it was determined that the total annual waste of juice in the UK alone amounted to 121m kg, with a Mimica Touchcap waste reduction potential of 44% - equating to 53m kg of juice annually.