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Bottle caps which can be reused as building blocks


Photo of Clever Pack
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We love plastic as it makes our life easier, on the other hand, it can be quite a burden, when it becomes waste.

So, in order to solve this problem, we decided to understand the reasons why the caps were not being recycled.

Small plastic products, such as caps, can be a huge problem in the environment, as they don’t generally get recycled or they are not worth collecting manually because:

-of their small size which makes them go through automated sorting process

-caps are mainly produced out of two materials, PP or HDPE and quite often they also have an inner EVA liner, making recycling harder and expensive as you have to separate all those materials.

-the many colours are also a challenge for caps recycling as it lowers the value of the material

How to Solve?

Conceptually, making the caps attractive, so that they won´t be disposed, and consequently won´t harm the environment.

Even better if this goal (objective) is reached by making peoples life easier and happier.

Our proposal are the Clever Caps, a dual function cap:

- on its first life, the cap works perfectly as a conventional cap, including accomplishing hermetic selling.

- on its second life, after working perfectly as a closure, the cap become a building block perfectly compatible with Lego.

                            Transforming a global problem into global joy

Clever Caps Benefits:

- Eliminate the need for recycling by giving the cap a lasting second function.

- The variety of colors, which used to be a problem for cap recycling, for the Clever Caps it has become a benefit.

- As in the Lego blocks, Clever Caps of different shapes and sizes fits perfectly together (interchangeable).

                                      Clever Cap finish PCO 1881

                        Pencil holder made with Clever Caps and Lego 

Creating a concept is one thing, but making it work into the existing market is something completely different

For us, it has been 4 years of extensive research, prototyping, material testing, pilot mold development until we got the the current design: one that made the cap perfect for its first use as a closure, but also perfect to be used a building block. We have managed to develop several caps, compatible with standard bottle Finish and with Lego pieces.

On the development process, there were a number of things that we have evaluated in order to get to the perfect design, material selection and production process.

                      Clever Caps are drop in to standard bottle finishes

Comercial Pilot

                                                  Comercial Pilot

                          Clever Caps make objects for everyday use

Clever Caps Goals:

  • properly work both as closure as building blocks
  • to adapt to industry standard packaging
  • to apply the same plastics resins as conventional caps
  • the ability of adapting existing caps molds for the Clever Caps system
  • use the same filling machinery, without adding new production steps.
  • to be safe for children to use, and be certified as a toy
  • different forms and shapes, always self-compatibles, and compatible with Lego Blocks.
  • Have a small over weight compared to the conventional cap
  • have Tamper Evidence

Clever Cap is lower for same finish, that makes small overweight compared to the standard cap

                                          Customizable in many ways


No Frontiers, mineral water caps from Brazil that assemble with juice caps from Australia, which assemble with shampoo caps from Kenya, which assemble with toothpaste caps from Germany, which assemble with tea caps from Tibet, which assemble with yogurt caps from Bolivia, which assemble with hair conditioner caps from Canada, which assemble with juice caps from Thailand, wich assemble with shampoo caps from Turkey, ………………………..................

            Different sizes, shapes and products assembling with each other

The challenges

Our biggest challenge was to develop a component that can perfectly function with two completely distinct standards: conventional bottle Finish standard and Lego standard.

                             Technical drawing from finish PCO 1881

                                  Techincal drawing of Lego block

                                      Clever Caps absolutely compatible

Moreover, we started the product development within a period of high political and economical instability in Brazil, but we were determined to do so, and looking back now, we are happy that we did it!

Idea Title

Clever Caps, bottle caps which can be reused as building blocks

Company / Organization Name

Clever Pack


Where are you / your team located?

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

Developing caps with two functions:
First, the cap works perfectly as a conventional cap, than becomes a building block perfectly compatible with Lego.
The key advantage of Clever Caps is that it was developed in line with the entire production chain. All production processes, bottle Finishes, sizes and filling remain unchanged. Clever Caps are drop in products that can immediately replace standard caps and be incorporated easily into existing production lines.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Case 2
Bottle caps and tear-offs

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

The project has a commercial pilot in Brazil, but it can be applied virtually anywhere, since the bottleneck standards are the same for the entire industry. 

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Gaining visibility demonstrating the benefits that the reuse brings to the environment.

The increase in demand will allow investments in high cavity molds.

We hope to accelerate this process with the visibility that the Challenge can provide.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.
  • Full-scale roll-out: You have developed a pilot, tested, and analyzed the impact of that pilot as it pertains to the problem scope. You are ready to expand the pilot significantly and begin to scale.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

The opportunity to work with the New Plastics Economy Accelerator Program will help us to gain visibility and attract new partners in order to expand the pilot significantly and begin to scale.

Working closely with key experts and market leaders will give us the necessary tools and assistant to improve the value proposition and migrate from commercial pilot to full market scale.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Our idea emerged from the desire to innovate in packaging segment not through ideas but from unfulfilled need
The recycling process generate a lot of CO2, by burning fuel for transport and energy on the several industrial steps
With this line of thinking we found our unmet need:
Develop an alternative packaging or component of it like the caps so it won’t enter in the recycling cycle
Partnership with Exchange 4 Change Brasil brought knowledge of the Circular Economy philosop

Tell us about your work experience

Claudio P. Vollers (co inventor) over 25 year experience in plastic injection in packaging segment
Henry Suzuki (co inventor) entrepreneur, specialist in innovation and intellectual property

Please describe your legal and organizational structure



Join the conversation:

Photo of loemrntdherid1

Photo of Connor Devine

I bought 5 Clever Caps from the Design Museum a few years ago, really glad to see the product on OpenIDEO, love the idea, keep up the good work

Photo of Clever Pack

Connor, thank you very much for your comment and motivational words!!!
Nice, you have the first try out of Clever Caps!
As soon as we presented the project, we were nominated for the 2014 Design of the Year from the Design Museum of London. This way the Clever Caps ended up on their store.

Photo of Elaine Silva

Excelent idea! It shows that Plastics can solve many problems with good projects!

Photo of Clever Pack

Elaine, thank you for your comment! That's the idea, solve a problem.

Photo of Luciana Scotti


Photo of Clever Pack

Thank you very much!!!

Photo of Ricardo Antonello

Amazing. Contratulations!!

Photo of Clever Pack

Thank you very much!!!

Photo of Agnaldo Dantas


Photo of Clever Pack

Thank you very much!!!

Photo of Soren

Hi guys,
Congrats with the concept. True "carioca" creativeness! (We have come up with a similar but different concept!). We are curious: What were the actual results and learning points of the commercial pilot you did in Brazil? Good luck to you both!

Photo of Clever Pack

Thank you Hans & Soren!
The results that we have identified so far have been the improvement of the image of the mineral water company by the ecology and social positioning of the product, as well as the conquest of new consumers for the brand owner. The analysis was been tainted by the low production capacity of the pilot mold which was not sufficient to fully meet the demands of the commercial project.
We learned that we need to move faster towards a full scale production mold, and the need to finish the tamper evident version of the cap, since not all bottlers use TE sleeve bands for sealing.
We also wish you good luck!

Photo of Bernardo Delarue Bizzini

In my opinion, this is a very revolutionary idea. The conversion of waste bottle caps into a creative new compound is just amazing. Especially because the caps are compatible with Lego, it sparks the interest for children to collect them and complement their set of toys. Great work and I hope to see these caps soon available!

Photo of Clever Pack

Hello Bernardo, thank you very much for your comments and motivation! Lego is very especially for us, we love them! We also hope and are working a lot that the Clever Caps move forward from comercial pilot to full market scale.

Photo of Ricardo

Such a nice and creative idea! Even using plastic creator found a way of
A) …helping industry on increasing their sells by adding another positive point on their products.
B) …increase the reuse of plastic.
C) …socialize our child’s which are becoming everyday more dependent on digital toys
D) ...helping poor child’s all over the world in getting in touch with one intelligent/creative toys

Photo of Clever Pack

Hello Ricardo, thank you very much!!! These are important points.

Photo of Raul Faria

Fantastic idea! I would for sure rather buy a product with such a cap, than a disposable one. I'm a big Lego fan and having blocks for free is a tremenduous value added.
I think also that products that adopt these caps will differentiate themselves as 'fun' and environmental friendly.
Congratulations and good luck!

Photo of Clever Pack

Hello Raul, thank you very much for your motivating words!

Photo of Uno Meyer

Great idea!

Photo of Clever Pack

Thank you Uno!

Photo of Samara Castro

It's a great Idea and inovation. Congratulations! (Aplause)

Photo of Clever Pack

Samara, thank you very much for your coment!

Photo of Cary Howe

It's a clever idea. The only downside I see is the caps will use twice as much plastic as a standard cap so if half get thrown out it could be a wash. I love that it's original which is rare since 90% of the ideas pitches fit into half a dozen categories, how many versions of intergrated straws and bulk bins has there been? Good luck! It's a solid idea.

Photo of Henry Suzuki

Hello Cary. Thanks for your comments. In fact, the MVP version which was used for the product launch contains almost the Dame amount of plastic as a standard cap, for It doesn't have the ring/seal to be left at the bottle neck. What was an aparent drawback in the beginning showed to be an interesting option

Photo of Clever Pack

Cary, thank you very much for your comment! About the weight of the Celevr Cap they are not twice the weight of conventional caps. The difference is small because we have reduced the height of the Clever Cap (PCO 1881) to be compatible with the height of the Lego blocks (9,6 mm), so the difference of weight is small. Keeping weight down has always been an important point for us.