K-Bis Studio, a Polish company, has recently filed a patent for a beverage carton that neatly compresses down as you use it, reducing volume for recycling and keeping the contents fresh. Let’s take a look at how it works and its potential for change in the packaging industry.
As members of the logistics sector, we’re well acquainted with the need to efficiently fit as many items as possible into a limited space while innovating daily to improve how we perform that task. For example, many companies are now determining shipping prices based on something called dimensional weight which factors in the actual space a package takes up rather than its actual weight.
It’s also important to design packaging that takes up less space and fits well with other packages. It’s this reason that we see lots of squares and rectangles in shipping while avoiding irregular (or at least non-stackable) shapes as much as possible.
The same principles apply to us in our own homes: we only have so many cabinets and so much storage space; we’ve all had moments where the day’s grocery run seems to have exceeded our kitchen capacity. It’s significantly easier for me to pack away my boxes of mac n’ cheese than it is for me to figure out where to put my bags of vegetables and loaves of bread — which often go in rectangular bins anyway.
Polish company K-Bis Studio, helmed by inventor Muchtar Ismailow, has indirectly come up with a potential solution to this problem in his quest to create a container that resists spoilage while embodying sound storage design. It’s easily foldable and compressible, operating with a unique valve that doesn’t allow any air to enter. It shrinks as you drink, thereby both saving you fridge space and preserving the longevity of the product.
Ismailow’s carton is noticeably creased and contoured in a way that makes compression straightforward for the average consumer. It always takes up just enough space to contain whatever is left inside, eventually collapsing flat. We’re all familiar the infamous orange juice carton containing just barely too much orange juice to throw away. Instead of sitting in your fridge door, a gable-top monolith to your inability to finish one more glass, it takes up an amount of space proportionate to its contents.
The valve is also excellent at sealing in that precious freshness. “The real challenge was to create a 100 percent airtight valve that would not let air pass,” Ismailow said in an interview with Packaging Digest. Not only did he succeed, but was pleasantly surprised by its cost-effectiveness and how easily it can fit inside the body of a conventional cap you’d see on any standard carton today:
“For me, the biggest success and surprise is that it is possible to place the mechanism inside the body of a standard cap. Another success is, of course, the price. We expect that in mass production the price will not be higher more than by 30 percent in comparison with the models present on the market of dosing caps or caps with cutting elements. The reason is that the I-Pack airtight valve can be made of the same standard materials and its construction is not more complicated than that of those valves.”
Indeed, the design is both simple and effective. Ismailow’s invention even has another, perhaps not so obvious feature: when you fumble and drop the carton during your bleary-eyed midnight snack session, the airtight valve prevents almost all spillage. It drastically improves functionality — and that doesn’t end with the consumer. The recycling system also stands to benefit from these upgraded cartons, from your driveway to your local recycling facility.
Most household recycling bins aren’t exactly spacious, and if you have a family or roommates, they fill up quickly. This means lots of crushing, stomping, and smashing. Ismailow’s carton design eliminates the need for violent compression by transforming a spent container into a regular piece of cardboard.
In flat form, it takes up significantly less space than even a well-compacted standard carton, and the airtight valve ensures that it remains completely flat. This dimensional minimalism has benefits all the way through the recycling process, as it’s less physically obtrusive both in the garbage truck and at its final destination, the recycling facility.
Interestingly, flattening a standard milk carton is not recommended because it makes the item hard to spot and sort. By cleanly folding, however, Ismailow’s carton saves space while remaining easily identifiable. He tells Packaging Digest that this is the single most important feature of the package to him because it hits on social welfare, environmental issues, and sustainable development all in one.
As the sustainability trend in packaging grows, we’re likely to see more innovative packaging like the foldable, compressible carton infiltrating store shelves. Lately, there’s been growing emphasis on containers that either use less material or have increased recyclability. Businesses are being asked to go beyond simply putting their product in a box and shipping it out.
In fact, the packaging you choose to use is an extension of your brand — and the first point of contact for your average customer. It’s important that it reflects the values that you want your name to be associated with. If today’s consumer, who is increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of packaging, sees that your business uses minimalist, highly recyclable, collapsible, or otherwise environmentally-conscious packaging, they’re far more likely to take an interest in your product.
There are countless examples of new packaging made from biodegradable, even edible, material. We see mushroom-based packaging that can replace styrofoam and an algae-based water bottle that you can even eat! These ideas aren’t just sustainable — they’re interesting. Whether your packaging is made of a material that borders science fiction or utilizes textures that stand out from competing products on the shelf, people looking at your product will both notice and remember it. It takes more than bright colors to grab attention now, and when people have a deeper interest in the origin of what they’re buying, it’s best to have packaging that’s geared toward both environmental and personal health in some way. Sometimes it’s as simple as making something that just collapses down nicely to better fit your recycling bin.
The European Parliament voted for a complete ban on a range of single-use plastic waste across the union in a bid to stop pollution of the oceans. The proposal also called for a reduction in single-use plastic waste for food and drink containers, including plastic cups.
China has long been treated as our planet’s repository for plastic waste. The nation has accepted 45% of the world's total plastic recycling since reporting to the United Nations Comtrade Database began in 1992.
Even before plastic straw bans grew trendy, California was at the forefront of using less plastic and promoting more sustainable living. California pioneered a statewide ban on plastics beginning in 2016, when the state became the first in the U.S. to ban most stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags, following a successful referendum. [...]