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playing and recycling

Two lives of a bottlecap

Clever Caps on a bottle of mineral water

EDUARDO CESARClever Caps on a bottle of mineral water…EDUARDO CESAR

Interlocking bottlecaps that are compatible with toy building blocks like Lego and Mega Block. This is the description of Clever Caps, a Brazilian design innovation presented in April 2014 during the 14th Conference of the National Association of Research and Development by Innovative Companies (Anpei), in São Paulo. The product, designed by Clever Pack, was displayed atop bottles of Petrópolis Paulista mineral water that will arrive on the market in June 2014. “The proposal is for the caps to gain a new life,” says Cláudio Patrick Vollers, one of the product’s designers and a partner at Bauen Plásticos, Clever Pack’s partner company in the project. The idea was to prevent at least part of the plastic packaging from being thrown away or recycled — in this case, the cap. “Giving new usefulness to bottlecaps avoids their being discarded,” explains Henry Suzuki, intellectual property consultant and co-inventor of the caps. He discovered that over 30 similar projects had been filed with patent databases worldwide, but none that could be used with toy building blocks.

... and as a building component in toys or handicrafts

… and as a building component in toys or handicrafts

After confirming that the patents for Lego had already expired, Suzuki gave Clever Pack the green light to create its first bottlecap compatible with the toy. Seven patents were filed in Brazil. In less than three years, the caps have won important international awards, including Germany’s iF Design Awards. The project, which received an investment of R$2 million, was also among the 76 selected to compete in a popular vote taken by the Design Museum London. “Brazil’s industry needs to open itself up more to design, which many in the business community still see as something frivolous,” says Vollers.