It's a Cap. It's a Toy. It's FUNCAP and it shows that the circular economy can be made super-elliptical.
A PARADOX OF SCALE
Approximately 19 Billion LEGO components are produced every year. LEGO bricks are one of those things that never break and most people pass them down from generation to generation. Why? Because they're of great quality and fun to play with!
Every year, 200 billions of plastic bottles are used for water but only a fraction of the caps are recycled. Why? Because they are pretty much useless after the bottles have been emptied. What if they weren't?
Maybe if the caps could also be used for something else fewer might end up being tossed away!
A CAP WITH FUN: FUNCAP
Our proposal to get rid of plastic caps becoming garbage and polluting the environment is to design them to seamlessly work as a LEGO component after the early retirement from their bottle sealing careers.
Thereby, the life cycle goes from 10 minutes of usage (while drinking from the bottle) or 1 year (the usual shelf life of bottled water) to years and even generations of play-time with the toy.
WHAT IS FUNCAP?
FUNCAP combines the desired properties of a plastic screw cap (such as tight seal, easy to press down on the threaded bottle neck on the filling production line, easy to open by hand) with the properties of a LEGO brick (such as high quality, fine tolerances and perfect mechanical connectivity with other LEGO bricks).
FUNCAP is made in different shapes and sizes. However, a round shape facilitates its introduction in existing bottle filling production lines. Plastic screw caps come in different diameters (e.g. 38mm, 35mm and 28mm). As the most commonly used plastic screw cap size is 28mm, a 4x4 knob LEGO brick (31.8mm width) provides a good starting point for the first FUNCAP.
HIGH SOCIAL RETURN ON INVESTMENT (SROI)
Other than being an obvious immediate benefit to the kids that love to play with LEGO, the economical benefits of FUNCAP, despite a (likely) increased unit cost, are obvious as it combines the utility of the screw cap and the LEGO brick.