Next up in our series of finalist interviews for the pre-commercialised part of our Sustainability Awards, we speak to Mimica about their Touch Cap technology, which shows whether a drink is still good to consume.
You’re a finalist in the Sustainability Awards 2022. Congratulations! To start off, could you summarise your entry, the Mimica Touch Cap, in less than 50 words?
With Mimica Touch integrated, the cap becomes a freshness indicator more accurate than an expiry date which is based on worst-case scenarios. Simply feel the cap to read. The drink is still good to consume until bumps can be felt on the active area of the cap’s surface.
Why do you think the judges were impressed with your entry? Tell us about what is innovative about your project and/or about its impact on packaging sustainability.
The Mimica Touch technology adds never-before-seen functionality to a beverage cap. We view this as a radical, game-changing innovation, one that has a profound effect on how caps are used, their contribution to the reduction of food waste and carbon emissions and, at the same time, drives purchases. With extensive testing and experimentation, a gel has been calibrated that enables a texture-change from smooth to bumpy.
The gel deteriorates according to time and ambient temperature, accurately mimicking the deterioration of the beverage without ever coming into contact with it. Working in partnership, the UNITED CAPS and Mimica teams were able to contain this gel within a fully recyclable cap that does not affect bottle recyclability yet offers a fast, easy way for a consumer to ensure beverage quality is still good. The result? A sustainable closure that consists of a base cap and over cap from UNITED CAPS and the unique gel chemistry and tactile system invented by Mimica.
From the user perspective, the cap is activated at the first opening and then behaves like an ordinary screw cap – with the difference that the active area of the cap becomes bumpy when food should no longer be consumed. There is a comparison area to double check against for peace of mind. The Mimica cap arrives at the filling line in two parts: and requires only minimal changes to the filling line. The over cap is applied after the filling process with a dedicated machine integrated into the production flow like other modules such as labelling or film wrapping. The over cap, where the tactile change occurs is dormant until it is activated by the consumer which happens automatically when the cap is twisted open for the first time.
The product impact is felt in three key ways:
1. Food wastage: In the UK alone over 9.5 million tonnes of food and drink annually is unnecessarily wasted, costing the average UK household £470 a year. The Mimica cap is designed to show the true longevity of the food. You can save more and waste less.
2. Reduced carbon footprints: Food waste is responsible for up to 10% of global carbon emissions. Estimations based on verified data predict increasing the shelf life of perishable food by even 1 day alone could reduce all global greenhouse gas emissions by 0.3-0.4%; this equates to saving over 202.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering our atmosphere. There is potential to safely increase shelf life of most perishable foods by at least 2 days.
3. Increasing brand loyalty and share of basket: Wasting some of a beverage often makes consumers less likely to repurchase it or reduce purchasing frequency. Two thirds of consumers said they would buy larger bottles of juice, if they were able to finish them by the expiry date.
When and how do you intend to launch/commercialize this innovation?
Mimica and UNITED CAPS will jointly market the solution. We already have a UK retailer lined up to run a pilot of the Mimica cap later this year. As the cap production is up and running, the Mimica cap is available for others to test.
You’re shortlisted for the Active & Intelligent (Pre-Commercialized) category. What do you see as the key demands, challenges and opportunities in relation to active and intelligent packaging?
As always, we look at solutions like this in a holistic fashion and ask these questions: Is it innovative? Is it sustainable? What is the ROI for a brand that adopts it? Are there changes that need to be made on filling lines? What happens to the cap at the end of life? The Mimica cap ticks all those boxes. If just two days of shelf life could be added to food products, retail waste could be cut by 50%, home waste of perishable products could be cut by 63%, and brands who adopt this technology could increase sales by at least 10%, including the willingness of consumers to purchase larger packs of products, such as orange juice, without worrying as much about spoilage prior to full consumption. It’s important to ensure that features are valuable to the user. From there, and particularly for Active & Intelligent products, a further challenge is to ensure that value can be unlocked. Accessibility must be high and barriers to understanding and therefore usage must be low. The Mimica cap was initially conceived to make expiry dates inclusive of visually impaired and cognitively challenged people so that accessibility was right at the heart of the development. Added to that is the opportunity to drive on-shelf differentiation by meeting the demand that we deliver sustainable products that offer a profound impact on some of the world’s biggest challenges. Expiry dates drive large amounts of food waste, so creating a cap that impacts this wastage requires an intelligent solution.
Winners will be announced at a special awards and networking dinner taking place the evening of the 14th of November during our ‘Innovation Horizon’ event. You can book tickets for the dinner and/or the conference, which reveals the cutting-edge sustainable packaging innovation that will be needed over the coming 5+ years, here: https://lnkd.in/eyUHXFmR