Lidloc’s ground-breaking innovation is the integration of the lid as part of the paperboard cup’s structure, making a separate plastic lid unnecessary. The new folding lid is designed to be simple, fast and secure, offering usability improvements over the plastic part it replaces. For one, an integrated lid can’t come loose accidentally, leading to spillage.
The most impressive change, however, is undoubtedly Lidloc’s carbon footprint. It can represent, according to our material quantity analysis, a reduction of more than 50% compared to a traditional on-the-go cup. In this LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) calculation1) material data sets from a commercial database (GaBi) and within Metsä Board were summed up based on each material’s share of the mass of ready-made cups. In this case, the materials were paperboard; polyethylene (PE), used in the barrier coating of the cups; and polystyrene, used in the plastic lid of the traditional cups.
Lidloc also offers branding advantages. Since the whole structure is made with paperboard, this offers the possibility to print on the outer surface of the lid, which provides an additional area for marketing messages and personalisation. There’s another benefit with this design too: on traditional cups, the brand logo can face different directions depending on the plastic lid’s position. With Lidloc, the logo on the cup always faces out, resulting in better brand visibility.
The impetus for creating an innovation like Lidloc came from considering the possibilities of fresh-fibre-based products as an alternative to plastics, says Design & Innovation Director Cyril Drouet from Metsä Board.
“The paper cup that we all know today hasn’t changed much since it was created. We published this innovation to bring inspiration to paperboard cup design, improving consumer convenience as well as advancing the use of renewable, fibre based materials, as we see that much can be done in this area.”
Deeper into the innovation process
On the way to the final design, Metsä Board’s in-house design team explored a number of prototype concepts. Imitation of the plastic lid in paperboard was one avenue, but could not be found to grant the necessary protection from spillage.
The best concept, Lidloc’s flap-constructed lid, not only fulfilled the brief, but also led to side benefits which became core to its appeal. Structural designer Alan Li from Metsä Board explains:
“When customers initially see Lidloc, they naturally start to think that there is more material thanks to the lid – these closable flaps – but it’s not actually the case. The total material amount is actually very similar to that of a normal paperboard cup, as we are able to use a lighter grade.”
The next challenge in creating a wholly new concept such as this, was ensuring it could be easily manufactured. This was the assembled team’s aim right from the beginning. Technical Expertise Service Director Timo Kallio, who oversaw Lidloc’s production and coordinated the various parties involved, shares his perspective on the process of producing a radical innovation like Lidloc. He points out that Lidloc can be manufactured on the majority of paper cup machines, with only one or two small caveats.
“The die cutting of the cup’s body segment is an essential part,” he says, “making sure of the functionality with manufacturing precision.” Cup-forming machines that use an air-blowing component to remove the cup from the mandrel are also preferred over those which use mechanical fingers, which tend to damage the construction when it is at its most delicate.
The sustainability benefits of Lidloc are substantial. Without a plastic lid, recycling is made much easier. And as Kallio points out, the overall stiffness of the design is improved, resulting in a reduction of the necessary weight of paperboard. 20% light-weighting is estimated compared to traditional cup design, an advantage which is, of course, passed on down the entire value chain.
- No more plastic lids!
- Spill-proof structure with locking lid
- Open new branding potential with a printable lid
- Integrated sip design (for hot beverages)
- Easy to fold, better for the environment
1) The carbon footprint study was not done according to ISO/TS 14067. Some life cycle stages such as transporting materials to converting plants, converting energy, printing inks and end-of life stages were left out. In this study, the production of paperboard and plastics were in focus.
Read related articles:
Going green on the go
Lifting the lid on Licloc