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Stay on cap - Save a life cap

Save the cap for guaranteed recycling and save a life by this action.

Photo of Barbara
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I consider myself a nature person and I (would like to) believe that I do my bit for recycling. Yet, here I am and just figured out an hour ago that bottle caps are rarely recycled. Even if they end up in the right bin.  Although they could be recycled, they get lost in recycling plants. Therefore I propose the idea to create plastic bottles with 'stay on cap' that would be inseparably attached to the bottle's neck. 

Meanwhile the idea is not necessarily new, so far there is no new design out there that would provide the same customer experience meanwhile guaranteed that the cap stays on until the bottle ends up in the recycling bin. My idea is to connect the cap and a rotating ring below with a flexible handle. Since both part could move in 360 degrees it wouldn't change the opening process. The handle could be made from a flexible soft material that could be used as carrying the bottle when the cap is closed and also could keep the cap in a comfortable distance when one is drinking without altering the experience. 

Caps (both attached and unattached) could also display an environment friendly message such as 'Save a life' accompanied with a cute sea creature/bird picture. It would point out that we have active role to create/destroy our planet. I strongly believe that part of the problem is that most people live in a safe distance from all the environmental dramas and don't realize the impact of their actions in our environment. They wouldn't kill a bird or a turtle but they would throw away a cap easily and kill an animal unintentionally. Introducing these types of caps would create an opportunity to educate people about recycling and face them with their actions on the daily basis. In those locations where caps can be recycled separately, it would encourage people to take recycling more seriously regardless the size of the object.

After a week long observation of our local recyling culture I came to the following conclusions:
-caps/lids/sachets/straws are never collected separetly
- people have different attitude towards recylcing but the common thing is that most of them don't realise the significance of their actions
My idea proposes a solution for the above.

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

CASE 2 - Bottle caps and tear-offs. 'The problem is that these small bits of packaging are so small that they become too demanding to sort for recycling, both manually and automatically, even when they are made of a material that could be recycled. Bottle caps also end up in the environment way too often, or in the stomach of a sea animal even though they are technically recyclable.' With this design caps would less likely to get lost and less likely will end up in the stomach of an animal.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Will companies support the idea? It would be good PR but might cause higher cost due to new cap design. (Although if caps are recycled, it should balance the cost in long terms.) Would it be necessary to change caps material? Plastic caps are typically made from plastic #5 while the bottles they accompany are made from #2. These two types of plastic melt at different temperatures.

Tell us about yourself

I am an avid scuba diver who loves the sea and its habitants. Therefore I would like to take my part to prevent further damage by educating people and creating solutions that save our seas.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Angel Landeros

I see some challenges to the cap recycling issue. I'll give you my perspective from a manufacturing side. I don't know enough from the recycling industry to say if this is actually something they can already handle or not.

Recycling different plastics:
The cap and bottle are normally different types of plastic. Cap (PP or PE), Bottle (PET). They are processed and recycled for different uses. Their melting temperature can be very different. So keeping them together might actually be counter productive to the recycling effort.

Manufacturing challenges:
1. Making the cap. Caps are made from molds that can be very expensive (hundreds of thousands of dollars for one set with several cavities). Adding a connector makes them more complex, more expensive, and could make separating the cap from the mold more difficult.
2. Putting the cap on the bottle. This is done with chucks (like big bits) that grab the cap from all sides and screw it on at high speed. The cap is transferred from a hopper and position to be screwed in a fully automated process. Adding the connector would make it considerably more difficult to move the cap to position and have the chick grab it properly for screwing it on.

The work around the manufacturing issue would be to
a: have the connector spiral out of the cap body once it is opened, so as to keep it circular and uniform during the manufacturing process.
b: Reapply solutions like the ones used by drinks such as Gatorade (hinged or contoured caps)

Hopes this helps...

Photo of Barbara

Hi Angel Landeros 
Thank you for your input. It is very valuable to have feedback from the manufacturer side.

I have to admit I am not as familiar with the recycling process as you are. One way how I imagined the manufacturing is that if the neck ring and the connector can be made from the same material, then the process could be similar how neck rings with handles are made (mostly for +5l bottles). That enables the manufacturer to insert cap independently and maybe apply a force in the end to attach the second end of the connector.

But I am open to suggestions and if your proposed idea can work (have the connector spiral out of the cap body once it is opened, so as to keep it circular and uniform during the manufacturing process) that means that it is do-able.

The problem is with the hinged or contoured caps is that it alters consumer experience. That's why I am working to find an alternative.

Best regards,

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