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PopLock - Plastic Potato Crisp Tube with Integrated Hinged Lid

Reusable, recyclable, single material, tubular container with integrated hinged lid.

Photo of Matt Jones
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The focus of this design looks to address the highest rated non-recyclable offender - the potato crisp tube, most commonly associated with the Kellogg's brand 'Pringles'.

People don't respond well to change - at least initially. Give them what they want - but in a way that makes it easier for them to do the right thing. Change will follow.

The potato crisp tube is an iconic design that suits the main brand's marketing slogan 'Once you pop - you can't stop!'. It enables the reconstituted potato crisp product to be hygienically sealed and easily transported without breaking the product. Whilst made up of plastics, foils, cardboard and metal, the tube is defended as prolonging shelf-life - reducing wastage. Whether or not you subscribe to this defence, the fact remains that the product is non-recyclable. The challenge is less to convince people not to buy a product that is non-recyclable, or a brand to stop shipping a product it knows it can sell, but to find a middle ground.

Plastics have the qualities of being able to hold an airtight seal and maintaining a sturdy structure whilst being both reusable and, for the most part, recyclable. By creating a tube that mimics the shape that suits both the manufacturer and the consumer needs or wants, a tube with an integrated hinged lid, with no separate parts, made from a recyclable material is a win:win:win (manufacturer, consumer, environment). The proposed design allows for the tube to be sealed airtight, using an adhesive, and allows for the lid to be snapped closed and popped open - maintaining freshness between servings (if anyone has ever managed to go beyond a single serving).

Now: Current Tube (e.g. Pringles) - vs -
Then: PopLock

Material Count
Now: 5
Then: 1

Parts - Once Open
Now: 3 (Lid, Seal, Tube)
Then: 1

Now: Partial albeit with limited use
Then: Yes (similar to how ice-cream tubs are reusable)

Now: No
Then: Yes

Printable Surface
Now: Yes
Then: Yes

Now: No
Then: Yes

The design can support any size/length of tube and can even be shaped and/or embossed to further drive unique branding. The design can also support numerous packaging needs such as, but not restricted to, takeaway containers, yoghurt pots, small disposable containers for sauces, etc.

I've named this idea 'PopLock' - focusing on the integrated hinge lid component of the design and its flexibility to work for a wide range of reusable and recyclable, hygienically sealed and transportable, packaging containers.

(c) Copyright 2017 Matt Jones UK - All rights reserved.

Company / Organization Name

Uservox Limited


Where are you / your team located?

Somerset, United Kingdom

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

With the Pringle's tin noted for its poor recyclable nature, using mixed materials, this concept replaces multiple materials for one single recyclable plastic. Removing the waste of a separate foil seal and plastic lid. Making it easier to dispose of within plastic recycling bins whilst providing the same features the Kellogg's / Pringles (and similar brands) feel necessary to keep their crisps fresh, a long shelf-life for retailers, and the same popping experience for their customers.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

This crosses all 3 use cases. Making it easier to identify, easily reusable, removing small parts and making it easier to dispose of for recycling.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

This concept is a follow on to the Cuppuccino - Temporary reusable coffee cup with integrated lid and sleeve. The same principles are applied. Maintaining a need, perpetuated by trend, that can be slightly modified to deliver huge change, in support of the environment, without the perception of change by consumers. The idea is to see which design gravitates most based on this competition, and accelerating the proof-of-concept of that one, using the insights and profits to deliver another.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

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

The access to mentors, contacts and support will be invaluable to being to take ideas further than proof of concept. This alone I feel would alleviate the financial burden of innovation, and enable me to thoroughly test, improve and ultimately mass produce or develop partnerships for production of one of a number of packaging concepts that I have developed over the years, and stalled due to finances and access to resources.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

I spend much of my time looking at problems and seeking explanation, in the hope of finding solutions that resonate well with stakeholders and their customers alike. This design is but one of many that has spent too long in a sketchbook. One that this competition has inspired me to progress further.

Tell us about your work experience

My background has led me through design, marketing, user research, customer experience, and business strategy and innovation - primarily for digital products, with an earlier career in print.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Uservox Limited is a product innovation consultancy.


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Photo of Troy Gardner

I think an alternate approach to this, is a syringe like design or a disposible, inner liner that say against the outter rigid liner has a positive pressure to keep the air off the chips might work.

People rarely just buy one of these, so that could like cereal be done in a neutral atmosphere (nitrogen) plastic bag, in a carboard case like wine boxes.

Photo of Matt Jones

Hey Troy Gardner . I've researched dozens of ideas on the Pringles tube. You're right that a simple solution would be to bag it and present it in a tube. The challenge I ran with here is to remove the mixed material components and find one single recyclable material that would achieve all the goals of Pringles. What's more, that the plastic doesn't need to withstand heat, so could be made from biodegradable plastics - assuming the cost of such plastics can be made comparable. Which I suspect with the volumes that Pringles (and now many imitators) produce, this wouldn't be too far of a stretch.

Loving your input. Keep it going :)

Best wishes,

Photo of Robin Godwyll

A good idea to create a single material packaging for potato chips. However I believe that the concept is not rigid enough in its current form to serve as an alternative. A plastic container of this size will have quite a lot of flexibility especially if it is combined with such a big opening on top (just like an empty water bottle. To improve this idea further there should be ridges in the cylinder to stiffen the structure. How might those be incorporated into the design? Can there be a monomaterial tube that looks the same as the old one or will the change in material also demand a new appearance of the packaging and the print on it?

Next area that needs improvement is the lid. All Products that come with a big cap or top of any kind need a seperate seal to ensure that the product is sealed off completely and no contaminants can get inside(especially important with crisps as any air that gets inside will make them taste stale). There also needs to be some kind of indicator that signals if the package had been opened before. Consumers expect there to be a definitive barrier that guarantees freshness of the product. How would this design create trust with consumers?

Maybe someone who has worked in the packaging industry has more insight over how this idea might be refined to be an alternative to the old packaging.

Photo of Matt Jones

Thanks Robin!

Really good feedback. Please keep it coming. The more the concept is challenged, the better.

I had anticipated the thickness of the tube wall to be 1.5mm, which is considerably more than that of a thin water or drinks bottle. I hope to get one prototyped to determine if this is enough or to apply some sort of corrugation to the walls.

The idea requires an adhesive heat seal around the lid to ensure the contents are airtight. Once the user has broken that seal, then the lid can continue to be used to reseal the contents, but not to the extent that the contents are again airtight.

I have been thinking of a small plastic bar beneath the tab on the lid that would need to be fused to the tube to serve as a freshness guarantee seal. The consumer would have to break that bar for the tube to be prised open. The bar needs to remain adhered to the tube despite bring broken to prevent waste. I did also consider that a small amount of tape / promotional sticker could be used just as well. To be honest, I couldn't be sure if this was over egging the concept or not.

What do you think? Does that help answer your questions?

Photo of Matt Jones

Giving some more consideration to the reassurance of a freshness seal, I think I've come up with a way to do this that wouldn't require any additional seals. Essentially a two part lock that the only way to unlock it is by breaking the seal. The main issue then is to ensure the broken part of the seal remains contained and doesn't break loose from the container - which again I think I've worked out. I'll sketch up soon and add it to the attachments.

Thanks again for the challenge ;)