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Flocap - Open and drink without removing the cap

Drink cans integrated ring pulls. Drink bottles can now integrate the bottle cap.

Photo of Matt Jones
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Flocap integrates the bottle cap into the drinking experience. Twist the cap up and drink, twist it back to close. A disc valve keeps the contents watertight when closed, and rotates freely to allow the liquid out when opened.

The problem

The bottle cap provides a seal for drinks with the option to open and reclose the bottle at any time. The problem being the cap can be left off the bottle and on its own the cap is hard to capture and recycle due to its size. The solution required is a standardised bottle cap that can remain secured to the bottle but not impede the ability to open and reclose.

Solutions - with a problem

Tethered Cap - Some designs look to use a tethered cap that whilst achieves the same goal, creates an experience where the cap can get in the way of drinking or pouring from the bottle; Requiring the consumer to angle or hold the cap out of the way.

Sports Cap - As a large quantity of these bottle caps are used on fizzy drinks, a solution that restricts the size of the hole, such as a sports cap (pull/push), would create an increase in bubbles. This is likely due to the amount of air and liquid required to pass one another as the fizzy liquid is poured, and certainly would not work for larger fizzy drinks bottles.

Flip Cap - A flip cap solution (much like that considered for my other contributions: Cuppuccino and PopLock) would create a challenge in keeping the fizzy gasses sealed in, unless there was an added seal - like that in a tear off plastic pull tab or tear off lid liner, both creating unnecessary waste. The cap would also tend to get in the way.

Second-use Cap - More fun solutions that create a second purpose for the cap is certainly to be applauded. However such caps are likely to increase the cost of manufacture and may never make it to mainstream use.

The Flocap solution

Taking onboard these considerations, I ended up considering a simple valve that freely turns when the cap is twisted open, and a sufficient seal when twisted closed.

After a number of sketches, considering different ways of incorporating a valve, I finally landed upon a design that incorporates a cap with an opening (cap hole) and a freely spinning disc (valve).

The cap' hole is slightly smaller than the diameter of the disc valve. The disc valve is inserted into the cap, where the centre arms of the valve clip in and slide freely up and down ridges manufactured in the cap.

When the bottle cap is securely closed, the disc valve is unable to spin. As the cap is opened, the valve can spin... but only to the height of the cap. Opening partially allows for stemming the flow of liquid being poured. When the cap is twisted to its maximum height the valve can open fully, the cap remains affixed to the bottle.

With the cap open to its maximum height, a straw can easily be inserted if so desired. Twisting the cap slightly (to close) will help hold the straw in place.

The cap is tethered to the ring-seal (that typically stays with the bottle). Ideally the bottle screw pattern links to the Flocap design and prevents the cap from being completely unscrewed from the top of the bottle screw, the cap can only be untwisted to a certain height. Without such adaptations the cap remains practical but may cause dripping (not a tight enough seal); the cap may also be removed (complete with valve), however the cap remains tethered which may get in the way.

The consumer can pour or drink from the bottle without the valve getting in the way - freely allowing the drink to flow past. As the cap is reclosed, the disc valve is again pushed back to a position that it seals the bottle.

Manufacturing considerations

In manufacturing the caps, the valve needs inserting - adding to the process. However, it is anticipated (requires testing) that once inserted, the Flocap can be applied to the bottle in the same manner as they are today. There is an optional requirement to add a small amount of adhesive to the underside of the cap so that the valve remains affixed to the top during bottling. This will require the consumer to push down the valve when they first open their drink in order to break the adhesive seal and free-up the valve. This addition provides further insurance that there has been no tampering with the bottle or its contents.

Key features of the Flocap

  • Cap remains affixed to the bottle making it easier for recycling
  • Relatively similar amount of plastic consumed
  • Minor modifications to the bottle (preferable yet optional)
  • Potential to attach the cap with no retooling (to be tested)
  • Cap cannot be removed from the bottle (without force)
  • Branding opportunity to have the valve a different colour to the cap
  • Promotional codes or branding messages can be concealed on the underside of the valve
  • Straws can be inserted and the cap tightened slightly to prevent straw from easily being removed (of floating out as is so common with fizzy drinks).

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

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

With the cap tethered to the bottle, the cap can no longer be separated (without force), ensuring that the cap and bottle are disposed of together.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

This concept supports use case 2 - bottle caps and tear offs. Ensuring that the cap remains secured to the bottle.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Initially, I will look to create a prototype to ensure the concept works. Once done, I suspect I will need to work with drinks manufacturers to understand any reservations they may have to such a change - especially as this change will require a change to the bottle itself (however minor), and introduce a new step to the bottling process. The concept may be best sold to drinks manufacturers as a licence to the use of intellectual property rights over attempting to alter the supply chain.

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

Whilst I have considered this problem previously, it wasn't until this competition until I wrestled with the problem. Admittedly my first idea was similar to many other contributions to this challenge. I'd considered how the cap being tethered would create a nuisance when trying to drink or pour with the cap hanging in the way, so decided to explore 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

This concept is contributed as a personal project. I am otherwise a freelance digital product innovation consultant, operating under Uservox Limited.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Matt!

This is the link to Flocap -

Photo of Matt Jones

Hi Kate Rushton 

Unfortunately the clock has run out on me achieving the requirements in time. I've managed to put together the requirements for Cuppuccino - temporary reusable coffee cup . The TypeForm that came through today was a godsend. Perhaps in future challenges, this is the way to go, or a clearer comms about accessing the additional questions in time.

Fingers crossed for Cuppuccino. I'm sad I couldn't have hit the timeline for FloCap and PushPop. :/

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