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PushPop Bottle - Reimagining disposable soda bottles and their closing mechanisms

A single bottle with integrated push-to-drink closing mechanism removing the need for multiple plastics and detachable bottle caps.

Photo of Matt Jones

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For this challenge entry, I am reimagining how soft drinks will be consumed in the future - removing all need for multiple components - maximising the properties of recyclable plastics.

The design process

As with many of my designs for this challenge, the solution appears to be somewhat left field from current designs. With Cuppuccino I explored how one could integrate all the components of the disposable coffee cup into a single unit. I took this further with the PopLock concept addressing the challenge of the crisp tube most notably used by Kellogg's 'Pringles' brand. I tried again with the bottle cap and battled with the single-unit concept. Whilst the design for the FloCap remains novel, it does reflect old design logic enforcing itself on new thinking. I needed to go back to the drawing board - and this is where the PushPop Bottle concept was borne.

The design mechanics

With this concept, I am discarding that which we are familiar, and focusing purely on a new way to package drinks. With this design I have removed the need for a separate cap entirely. Everything required is moulded from a single blank of plastic, blown to support whatever brand design desired. The closing mechanism is a strip of plastic, essentially with a hole in it. Once the bottle is filled the strip is inserted into the holding rails of the bottle opening - locking the strip in place at the point the opening is sealed.

To open the bottle, the consumer would first need to push down on a tab that breaks the locking mechanism. The tab remains attached to the bottle but is no longer of use. This ensures the drink arrives fresh and proves of no tampering.

Thereafter to drink or pour from the bottle, the consumer simply pushes down - with a slight backwards pull to bring the hole in the strip in line with the hole in the bottle. As long as the consumer has their finger pressed, the bottle will remain open. No sooner as they let go, the tensile strength of the plastic, wanting to return to its original settled state, will spring the bottle closed.

The consumer is unable to pull the strip completely out of the bottle as the strip has a latch on the end inserted into the bottle that cannot pass a catch designed into the bottle.

The reality

Whilst I don't see many bottlers rushing to take up this design without a proof-of-concept, mainly because it will require retooling of the filling mechanism as well as a whole new process for capping off the bottle (inserting the strip). However, should the persuasion of this challenge encourage a bottler to invest in prototyping, the opportunity is one that may likely reduce the price of the bottle and be applauded for its attention to environmental waste.

The benefit for the brave

Consider that every empty bottle will be sealed when it is discarded, should a bottle find its way into the ocean, it will float - making it easier for skimming. With no bottle cap, this design eliminates and small unrecyclable waste. What's more, should the bottler invest in biodegradable technologies, the entire bottle can be compostable.

This challenge has changed my business outlook

As I look at my submissions I realise that the challenge has made use of years of product design principles that I would typically apply to digital applications. I have used my research and investigative skills to help me quickly iterate designs, applying the latest thinking.

As I progress with this challenge, I am looking to broaden my business from digital products to physical products - bringing forward over 27 years of service; research; customer/user engagement; workshops; analysis; strategising; designing; testing; delivering; monitoring; failing and repeating... into seeking out clients who are able to challenge me with need for innovation, with one caveat, that that innovation must have a positive impact on our environment and social welfare.

Thank you for inspiring me.

Company / Organization Name

Uservox Limited

Website

www.uservox.com

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?

The use of a single plastic blank to make a bottle with integrated mechanical closing mechanism removes any small plastic waste.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

This idea strongly supports Use Case 2 - Bottle caps and tear offs - and provides a simplified solution to aid Michaela, Trevor, Benjamin and Carmen in easing their decisions around how best to dispose of such a bottle.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

This idea will be too big for me to take on on my own, therefore I will use it as a catalyst to promote to drink makers in the hope of being afforded the opportunity to manage, develop, test and trial the prototyping of the design. In addition, should this and/or any of my submissions be successful, I will look to use these as examples of how I like to look at and respond to challenges with the hope of growing my client base. Incorporating physical product design into my core services.

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.
  • Operating Concept / Startup: You have fulfilled the stages of testing, undertaken a full scale roll-out, and are currently operating this concept/idea as a business.

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. Opening doors for new possible clients seeking innovation, adapting my business from focusing purely on digital product innovation to include physical products that support the environment and social welfare.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

This will be my 4th submission to this challenge (5th for all OpenIDEO). With each entry I am looking at the use cases and considering what I can imagine, using my years of experience, to suggest new possibilities. With my most favoured product, Cuppuccino, I can see how I can evolve that product personally, whilst with the other designs, I will need great support from a key industry player to succeed - and therefore have started to look at this challenge as a means to grow my service offering.

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 - Product innovation consultancy.

16 comments

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Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

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 - temporary reusable coffee cup  . The TypeForm that came through today was a godsend - if only it was delivered at the beginning of the refinement stage. Even though I recall something hinting towards this was covered in the Refinement Briefing session, it was unclear that we would not be prompted. I took your Welcome message below as what I was expecting. :/ A good lesson for both of us in future OpenIDEO challenges.
Oh dear. Fingers crossed for Cuppuccino. I know this one and FloCap are quite left-field ideas that require engagement with drinks and packaging manufacturers and brands to take forward. And where I've established this as being a valuable direction for my product design services (beyond digital) over a product I feel I can bring to market myself.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt!

Welcome to refinement!

It would be great to see the crude prototype of PushPop Bottle concept in the main body of your idea submission - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCq5AMdk4hA&feature=youtu.be. Perhaps a combination of this and your schematics is enough to show to users in the target market to get some feedback.

What material are you using? Is it PET? How will you ensure that the opening strip is durable/not brittle?

How would it compare cost wise to a bottle cap?

It would be great to find out more about the manufacturing process and challenges.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me by tagging me here (@ followed by my name) or send me an email - krushton@ideo.com

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi Kate Rushton 

Quick question... do you know how I can edit my contribution? The option appears to have disappeared...

In reviewing the PushPop Bottle concept with my mentor, Karen van de Stadt, we discussed the different types of plastics and it was suggested that liquids will cause the strip to become stuck due to a chemical reaction that happens between PET plastics of the same type. Her recommendation was to look at promoting this design for small particulates - e.g. powders. Where products are kept dry. Other than that, the idea seemed plausible.

There is complexity in the bottle mould - requiring inserts - that will increase the cost marginally, as it will also include additional plastic. Inserting the strip mechanically will also require due consideration. More exploration of the manufacturing and bottling process needs to be made before determining total viability.

I can imagine that this concept would work nicely for dispensing soap powders, household or restaurant dry goods (sugar, dry mixes, spices), or small items like cake decorations (sprinkles, flakes, dragees...), or pharmaceuticals (vitamin supplements) - any place where a single-handed operation and quick reseal would be beneficial.

I hope that helps. I suspect that this idea needs much more work before I can completely iron out the basics and confirm costs and processes.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt!

Try here - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/circular-design/refinement/pushpop-bottle-reimagining-disposable-soda-bottles-and-their-closing-mechanisms

You need to access your idea via the refinement section of the challenge. I will post links on your other ideas too. Any questions, get in touch.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt!

There are 7 days left in the refinement phase.

If there is key information in the comments on your idea submission, I recommend that you move them to the main body of your idea submission before the cut-off time.

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

WOW! Three products made it to the Refinement Stage. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Staggering stats: Earth is becoming 'Planet Plastic'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40654915

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

MUST WATCH! Inspiring art by Von Wong highlighting plastic pollution in our oceans: https://youtu.be/vdZ5AWaNQqc

Spam
Photo of Troy Gardner
Team

Clever Matt, I do wonder if this design is going to seal well enough and how well it might handle drips/salt/spice particulate ..the end goal is to control atmosphere to prevent going stale, but in some case the food fouls the seal.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Cheers Troy Gardner . Great challenge!

The intent of this design is particularly to address the carbonated drinks market (not that it couldn't support others too). The reason I've addressed sodas with this design is being mindful of the pressure that is contained in a soda bottle. (I really need to get a prototype of this design made to really see what effect the pressure really has). My gut (and that's all I have to go on right now) says, rather than a hinderance, the pressure will aid the seal.

I've been amazed by looking more closely into how most popular carbonated drinks are capped, and much is based on the contact of the seal to the opening. With this design, the strip slides through a channel, blocking off the opening. The seal is very much down to how much give there is in this channel to whether gas or liquid is going to expel. Again, gut only suggests that the seal is going nowhere until someone dislodges the seal by force.

I'm also considering that these are disposable (yet fully recyclable) bottles. The intent is not to withstand multiple uses, or be challenged by a build up of particulates. The design supports, once opened, the consumption of a carbonated drink within minutes or hours (possibly weeks).

Fingers crossed I'll get enough interest through this challenge that I can get to prototyping this design. Maybe I've gone too left field and find that physics is not in my favour. Maybe i've gone just left field enough that this idea or one similar to it completely shakes the drinks bottling market. I'm eager to find out which. Aren't you? :)

Best wishes,
Matt

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Thanks Matt for all your hard work in the challenge. I'm excited to see you continue to develop your idea, and also get feedback on your prototype. Tagging in Robert Smith to provide some feedback from a design perspective on PushPop!

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Thanks Lauren Ito for the tag!

Hi Matt,

I've looked through your OpenIDEO contributions, you certainly have a rich portfolio of ideas!

PushPop Bottle - Reimagining disposable soda bottles and their closing mechanisms shows real novelty. Being able to incorporate a sliding valve from a single molded part would be on par with some single-piece hose clamps used in the medical industry. (For example):
https://www.amazon.com/Bel-Art-Scienceware-Acetal-Plastic-Tubing/dp/B00ZTXOPAE

Your greatest challenge is likely to be achieving a robust seal, one that can handle the extremes of temperature and atmospheric pressure encountered with storage and shipping, plus internal pressures generated with carbonated beverages.

One thing you might explore would be to add an actual 'tear-away' seal such as that included on some caps and candy containers (though without removing it entirely as in this video):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISRjKOhvI2k

Some additional sketches around how the user's hand holds the bottle while sliding back the strip could be useful. Also, consider that the closure window might be perceived as a 'pinch point' by some users.

Looking forward to watching the evolution of your idea!

-Robert

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Wow! Phenomenal feedback. Thank you Robert Smith and Lauren Ito . This is the exact type of mentoring I'm hoping I can gain from this challenge. Love it!

I had a couple of ideas with a breakable seal, yet each time twigged that this would require an additional method of sealing during bottling, with an already a tricky insert. I think I might revert to one of these earlier ideas. The seal would not be a tearaway (defeats the object), but one that breaks leaving both sides of the seal connected to the bottle. And being all of the same plastic - readily recyclable.

I've mocked up an extremely crude demonstration of how the mechanism would work single handedly: https://youtu.be/uCq5AMdk4hA

Interesting thought on the pinch point. I'm thinking that it would be much less of a risk than say the sports bottle top (which I have admittedly caught my lip on before - trying to be clever, closing the lid with my mouth). I think the only way to really tell is by finalising the model and making a prototype - not unless there are any guidelines of tolerances that I should be considering.

I really appreciate your advice.

Thank you.
Matt :)

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Matt thank you so much for being such an active contributor! It's been exciting to see your ideas evolve in the challenge and the infectious enthusiasm you have for making the world a better place through your work!

For this particular idea, what would need to happen for this design to be prototyped or piloted to get user feedback? Is there another sketch you can provide that details a bit more about the functionality of the closing mechanism?

Looking forward to learning more!

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Thanks Lauren.

Next step for the idea is to create a 3D model - this will give clarity of the closing mechanism.

Prototypes are the costly bit, particularly for this level of thinness - I am hoping to succeed in the challenge with one or more of my ideas so that I can afford to make the level of prototype needed to carry out basic tests (withstanding pressure build up of gaseous drinks, water-tightness, etc), user testing and gain interest from bottlers.

I've already started to achieve some interest with my other project 'Cuppuccino' (which is the one I'll progress first - I'll update comments on that contribution). This one, PopLock and potentially FloCap are more suited to engaging directly with manufacturers. I would anticipate that gaining recognition through this challenge, that would help me make inroads to such companies.

Loving the adventure.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi Lauren Ito - Updated to show the closure mechanics. Worked through a couple of design thoughts. Some refinements still to make - general concept should now be more well expressed. Thoughts?