The patent-pending resealable SmarterSeal claims to be a better, more practical solution for brands to address consumers' hygiene worries associated with drinking beverages and other canned products.
Ever have doubts about how clean that can top is before drinking from it? Product developer and innovator William Battaglia has, but reacted like most have not by inventing a new way to protect the tops of cans with a protective, stretchable overcap.
While there have been number of previous over-the-can methods to preserve the food-safe top of a freshly filled can, Battaglia’s maintains that those prior “can toppers” have higher manufacturing and retail costs, are not resealable or reusable and do not provide 100% protection against bacterial contamination.
“Even if the top of a beverage can is not dirty, the perception still exists that it is,” says Battaglia, who responds to Packaging Digest’s questions in this Q&A about his patented solution, SmarterSeal.
Have you had a prototype manufactured? What is it made of?
Battaglia: Yes, I have had prototypes made and I am giving away samples of SmarterSeal as part of the reach-out and discussion stage with companies and manufacturers.
SmarterSeal will be injection molded of polypropylene or low-density PE. The idea is for it to be soft enough to be pliable, yet also be durable.
What kind of cost premium would it carry?
Battaglia: The beauty of SmarterSeal is that it is a very-cost-effective manufacturing solution for high-volume applications. For pennies, the lid adds 100% protection of beverage cans to keep the top free from any bacterial, chemical or environmental contamination. It can also prevent insects and wasps from entering an opened can. It provides the cheapest resealing solution for beverage cans and food cans with the benefit of being easily removable for can recycling.
How is it better than the simple aluminum foil cover I’ve seen on San Pellegrino premium canned beverages, for example?
Battaglia: Aluminum foil is not bad and has its place, however my product is better because not only does it provide a clean lid to drink from like foil, but it also has the benefit of resealing beverage can, which foil cannot do. Foil can be harder to recycle if contaminated as well. Also, foil has a tendency to become a littering issue, since its only purpose is to protect lid... once a consumer removes foil, consumers have a tendency to drop it on the floor. My SmarterSeal product stays attached to can and is less of a littering issue.
How would it be applied?
Battaglia: SmarterSeal can be manufactured to either be over-molded to a can or it can be separately molded and attached/snapped onto can during manufacturing process. SmarterSeal can either be applied as an “overmolded” option to a can end and then seamed onto the can as normal after filling. Alternately, it can be applied in a separate post-canning process by snapping it onto the cans before it is packed and shipped. The method is whatever best suits the manufacturer’s need.
What’s been the reaction from those in packaging?
Battaglia: The reaction I'm getting is "wow, that's such a simple idea" or "that's interesting." People realize how simple of a solution the SmarterSeal is, how applicable it can be and how much it has to offer to the many millions of consumers who use beverage and food cans every day.
What’s the biggest current hurdle?
Battaglia: The biggest challenge is proving to companies and manufacturers that spending the several pennies more per can is worth it to them and the consumer. Companies typically do not want to spend even a penny more even if it is clear that it is beneficial to consumers. My answer is that SmarterSeal will make up for it with more loyal consumers for a simple reason: SmarterSeal shows consumers that the company cares about their health, their safety, their time and their convenience.
The fact that every other beverage package except cans—such as bottles, pouches, etc.—are protected from germs, bacteria, dust, dirt, bees, insects and other contaminants before consumers open and then drink from them is absolutely appalling. I believe consumers should demand better. You can search "dirty can lids" and you will find numerous websites and articles about how dirty beverage cans really are.
People then buy the product and put their mouths directly on those cans without even thinking about what's on them. Those that do wipe the cans on their shirts or use napkins or water to clean the lids, if they have access to any of those solutions.
In Japan, consumers buy beverage cans in the millions from vending machines, which are exposed to harsh environmental conditions. The cans collect dust before the consumer purchases them. When was the last time you've seen a vending machine cleaned?
What’s the current status?
Battaglia: I am in the process of reaching out to beverage and food companies that may be applicable for SmarterSeal. I have had very strong interest from companies and have had several phone call discussions with major national brands and manufacturers about potentially using SmarterSeal on beverage cans, food cans, and wet pet-food cans.
What’s the next step?
Battaglia: The next step is to commercialize SmarterSeal, so that it can provide all the benefits that comes with its design and function. I'm having highly positive talks and negotiations with companies and manufacturers and think it's only a matter of time before a handshake and an agreement is in place.
Lastly, I think the can is due for a lid change. We have gone way too long in accepting the reality that beverage cans may be dirty. As with many consumers, I avoid using cans, and have gravitated to bottled beverages because they are indeed cleaner to drink from, easier to close and are more convenient. SmarterSeal is the cheapest, most sensible solution to this problem.
I believe SmarterSeal will help change the perception of dirty cans and even bring back consumers who have pledged to never drink from cans again.
For more information, contact Battaglia via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 973-495-9081.
For more beverage, food and other packaging, attend PACKEX and four other events that are part of the Advanced Design & Manufacturing (ADM) Expo Toronto—Automation Technology Expo (ATX), PLAST-EX, Design & Manufacturing and Powder & Bulk Solids (PBS)—on May 16-18 in Canada. For more, visit admtoronto.com.