Dexel dents household food waste with QR code-powered LED freshness indicator lids
07 Dec 2020 --- A new food waste-preventing connective packaging technology called Dexel – a nod to the Dutch word deksel, meaning “lid” – is in an early development stage.
Generous Minds, SGK Anthem, Vrijdag Premium Printing, Neurensics, Kurz, and Merck have joined forces under the name “Packadore Collective” to provide consumers with a tool that encourages an anti-food waste mindset.
Prior to opening a jar or bottle, Dexel users can place the device on lids, scan the QR code with a smartphone, and enter the color of the device and the use-by date into the app.
The prototype concept installed on a food jar illuminates four green LED lights, diminishing over time to inform consumers how long they can eat their contents before spoiling. A red light indicates the contents should be thrown away.
Troubling statistics on global food waste – 30 percent being wasted, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization – have provided a major impetus to develop the sleek tech.
“More than half of this amount occurs at home,” Ronald Lewerissa, industrial designer and structural packaging innovator at Generous Minds, tells PackagingInsights.
“It is our dream to eliminate all of that waste through a number of innovations. With Dexel, we can prevent 10 percent of that waste stream.”
Dexel makes the most sense for foods with a high risk of food waste, says Lewerissa, including fresh food packed in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) or ambient food that deteriorates relatively quickly after opening.
Having launched during the virtual Dutch Design Week in mid-October, Dexel is currently in the R&D phase and not yet commercially available.
For example, Dexel is only applicable to jarred food products. “But of course, we are considering other opportunities,” says Lewerissa.
Packadore Collective is also researching the influence of storage conditions, such as refrigeration temperatures and the time food spends outside of the fridge.
Every food brand a potential partner
To its advantage, Dexel requires only a very small set of data and little energy to operate. The lights only turn on when the jar is picked up, requiring little power for usage and easy USB charging.
The consortium is now looking to partner with “every food brand to take food waste seriously.” It hopes for partner brands to provide the data the Dexel app’s intelligence is based on and ultimately communicate optimal shelf life.
“It is not the Dexel device that ‘knows’ [each product’s shelf life after opening] but the app. It will send a simple set of data to the device to determine which lights – green or red – to turn on for user feedback,” Lewerissa explains.
“We know we cannot be 100 percent accurate, but we do know that we can be a lot more accurate than the shelf life printed on the pack.”
Anti-food waste initiatives
Dexel predominantly taps into two of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: #2 Zero Hunger and #12 Responsible Production and Consumption.
Recent food waste reducing initiatives in the packaging industry include Ynvisible Interactive and Innoscentia’s interactive labels that can detect spoiled food more accurately than regular expiry dates.
PackagingInsights has also reported how antimicrobial packaging is propelling food waste prevention to new heights amid COVID-19 induced concerns for safe food-grade packaging.
The Dexel prototype seeks to challenge consumer behaviors by empowering users to make more informed choices about the food they waste, to take control of and limit their negative contributions to our current climate crisis.
“It will be up to us and our partner brands to make Dexel a widely accepted innovation to turn this into reality,” concludes Lewerissa.
By Anni Schleicher
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