United Caps and Mimica cap food waste with texture transforming Touchcap
19 Sep 2022 --- United Caps and Mimica have partnered to debut a new closure technology, Touchcap, for food waste reduction. The cap works with a specialized gel that never comes into contact with the food product, yet changes the cap surface from smooth to bumpy as food deteriorates.
The research and development departments of the two organizations were successful in creating a fully recyclable cap that does not interfere with bottle recycling while providing a quick and simple method for consumers to confirm food quality.
Touchcap features an environmentally sustainable combination of a base cap and over cap from United Caps, paired with Mimica’s activator and gel. A chemical reaction between the two causes the top foil label to become bumpy as food freshness decreases. This reaction is only activated once the consumer twists the cap open for the first time.
Before understanding that expiration dates also contribute significantly to food waste, Mimica’s founder, Solveiga Paktait, developed the idea as a design project to make expiration dates inclusive of consumers with impaired vision.
Paktait wanted to explore designs that could be easily interpreted by people who are visually impaired and intellectually challenged while still providing real-time information about the state of the food.
United Caps CEO Benoit Henckes says they looked for a holistic approach to the solution. “Is it innovative? Is it sustainable? What is the ROI for a brand who adopts it? Are there changes that need to be made on filling lines? What happens to the cap at end-of-life?” are among some of the questions they asked.
Aced waste reduction
Henckes further elucidates that “if just two days of shelf life could be added to food products, retail waste could be cut by 50% and home waste of perishable products could be cut by 63%. Brands who adopt this technology could increase sales by at least 10%, including the willingness of consumers to purchase larger containers of products, such as orange juice, without worrying as much about spoilage prior to full consumption.”
A pilot experiment for the cap is now being conducted in the UK with a company that makes orange juice. Through this pilot and previous United Caps studies, it was discovered that 121 million kgs of juice were wasted yearly in the UK alone, with a Mimica Touchcap waste reduction potential of 44%, or 53 million kgs of juice annually.
“Not only is reducing food waste important for the planet, but this alone also reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Estimates based on verified data predict increasing the shelf life of perishable food by even one day could save over 202.8 million metric tons of GHG from entering the atmosphere,” Henckes says.
In food waste developments, Marks & Spencer (M&S) recently made the decision to remove best-before dates from over 300 fruit and vegetable products, representing 85% of the UK retailer’s produce offering, to help reduce in-store and household food waste.
The selected products include “commonly wasted” items such as apples, potatoes and broccoli. The dates are replaced with a new code that M&S store colleagues will use to maintain freshness and quality.
The change is designed to encourage customers to throw away less edible food at home by using their judgment.
Edited by Mieke Meintjes
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