Good news for ketchup lovers everywhere — thanks to Heinz’ new upgrade, you can now squeeze just the right amount of ketchup without mess or spills and stay in Mother Earth’s good books.
Heinz invested a lot of time, money, and effort in designing its new recyclable ketchup bottle top. It took nine years, 185,000 product development hours, 45 iterations, and $1.2 million.
With this redesign, Heinz was looking to be kinder to the planet. And with annual sales of more than 650 million ketchup bottles, it had a significant opportunity to do so.
The cap used a tough-to-recycle material for its silicone valve, which needed recycling facilities to physically separate the silicone from the rest of the cap and send it elsewhere (in the U.S., there’s just one single silicone recycling plant). Needless to say, this wasn’t very cost effective.
After some trial and error with both its internal R&D team and external groups, Heinz found a solution to make ketchup dispensing easier and cleaner for consumers and to make it much simpler to recycle the empty bottle.
“The biggest challenges were getting to similar performance of the current closure, addressing the challenges of the current one, and meeting our consumers’ needs … which led to the 45 iterations,” said Kim Bertens-Vlems, Heinz’ international senior packaging manager. “Changing some of the aspects affected the other criteria, therefore getting the balance right was the main challenge.”
What’s so great about this new design is that it’s made from just one material (polypropylene), making it very easy to recycle with other items of the same material (like yogurt containers). Plus, other products’ caps can be made similarly (like caps for shampoo and conditioner bottles), so there’s hope for other consumer product packaging to become more eco-friendly, too.
On top of the fantastic environmental impact, the cap makes the whole ketchup experience better for people because of how it dispenses a “controlled dose” (without that messy ketchup spray we can all do without).