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Nepenthes: the capless shampoo bottle

Photo of Marilu Valente
20 28

Written by

A single person over a life time uses around 800 shampoo bottles. The current consumption of personal care products, such as shampoos and shower gels, is based on disposability and this makes the sector incredibly wasteful and resource intensive.

The inefficiencies start at the beginning of the lifecycle, at the manufacturing stage. Currently industrial plastic packaging for personal care products is made with two different components: the body and the cap.

The cap is produced in one manufacturing plant and the body in a different one. They are then shipped to an assembly plant. By taking the cap production and assembly processes out of the equation, we can make the whole manufacture more efficient.

What if only one type of plastics was used for the entire bottle?

By combining the cap and body of the bottle into one element, the proposed design rethinks the entire lifecycle starting from the initial stages. Nepenthes is a packaging system for shampoos and shower gels which optimise the manufacturing process and makes the recycling easier.

The proposal uses design to rethink disposability and therefore it represents a subtle and beautiful disruption of our habits.

The design was awarded the Concepts We Wish Were Real Award:

And it was featured:

Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF):

Plasticity Forum 2016 London:

Idea Title

Nepenthes: the capless shampoo bottle

Company / Organization Name

I am the lead designer from Merged Vertices, a design firm which focus principally on sustainability and the circular economy.


Where are you / your team located?

Germany, Europe

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

As of now, the cap, body and label of one bottle are made with different types of plastic materials. In Nepenthes, the body and the cap of the bottle become one. This design makes the manufacturing process more efficient as it is done with only one manufacturing technique and does not require the sourcing of different types of plastics. And at the end of life, having a capless bottle would also eliminate the need of separation during the recycling process.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Use case 2: Bottle caps and tear-offs

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


How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The first step would be to refine the design from a technical point of view with industrial manufacturers, in order to have the product market ready. Partnering with a global personal care brand would enable a quick expansion. The idea would be to develop in collaboration with the brand a whole line of capless personal care packaging as a statement of environmental and social responsibility.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.
  • 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.

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

The accelerator program would give me the resources to develop a market entry strategy. The backing from the sponsors would also provide a better position to contact potential customers and getting faster to the right contact person. Furthermore, the network of partners would be an invaluable asset to potentially run a pilot to introduce the product to the market.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

The idea emerged by challenging the current design of personal care plastic packaging which is made with two difference components. Finding inspiration in Nature, I came across the Nepethes plant which is a carnivorous plant with a cavity called the pitcher which finishes in a thin flexible root used to hang over branches. In the same way the cavity of the pitcher can be interpreted as the container and the flexible root as the cap.

Tell us about your work experience

I worked for international design and engineering firms before co-founding a startup in electronic waste recycling and starting a freelance design firm focused on sustainability.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Freelance designer


Join the conversation:

Photo of Katerina Kon

Wow Marilu! What a great idea, I hope to be able to buy this bottle soon! Please keep me posted on the progress :)

Photo of Marilu Valente

Thank you Katerina I will keep you posted!

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