A lot of product waste is caused by inefficient packaging that track the product in the container. Not only is this a waste for the user because they don’t get to use every ounce of product they paid for, it is also causing complications for recycling. Plastic containers need to be cleaned and rinsed before they can be recycled. For many, cleaning the container is an inconvenience that needs to be done. But unfortunately others find it a hassle and it deters them from recycling.
Researchers at Ohio State University created a special lining texture for the inside of plastic bottles that ensure soapy liquids do not cling to the surface. While this technology already exists to effectively make food and drinks not stick, no one has developed a surface that works for soapy liquids.
How the technology works:
This anti-waste texture is the result of a technique that includes lining a plastic bottle with microscopic y-shaped structures that cradle the droplets of soap aloft above tiny air pockets, so that the soap never actually touches the inside of the bottle.
The “y” structures are built up using tiny silica nanoparticles, or quartz, which, when treated further, won’t stick to soap.
This is all to do with what is known as ‘surface tension’, which is the tendency of the molecules of a substance to stick to each other. Ketchup and other sauces are made mostly of water, and water molecules tend to stick to each other more than they stick to plastic. Conversely, soap needs organic molecules called surfactants and which do the opposite of water molecules, that is, they have a very low surface tension and stick to plastic easily.
Instead of spreading out on the surface of the plastic and sticking to it, the soap forms beads and rolls off the bottle.
- Soap and similar product manufacturers
- Plastic bottle suppliers
- Recycling companies
Steps to Implementation
- Pilot test the technology with a handful of soap manufacturers
- Market research to study consumer feedback about the new plastic containers
- Make product adjustments as needed
- Scale up use to as many soap and similar product manufacturers
- Conduct awareness campaigns to encourage smart product use (down to the last drop) and boost plastic recycling