• a.m. associates

Flip Your Lid

Why do bottles have such big lids?

Bottle tops used to be small in comparison to the bottles they sat on. In the 70s they were pretty basic, usually round so that they could be screwed down, and squirty bottles such as shampoos tended to have a nozzle insert in the neck of the bottle or, in the case of Vosene, a space age rotating over-cap to let out a small dose. The iconic Fairy Liquid bottle was something of an outlier, with its small flip cap becoming synonymous with washing-up liquid for evermore.

Then came the birth of the brick with snap-on lids and wide flip-tops. Designers could make full-width caps integrated with the bottle shape, so packs could be flatter to have maximum graphic impact on-shelf, and if the designer wanted to run a feature, such as a groove up the bottle and into the cap that would be no problem. The cap itself could easily become a feature. You could even add sophistication or create range differentiation by dropping in additional mouldings to make a colour change.

With the addition of rubber valves, upside down packs such as squeezable ketchup and shower gels became possible.

So now all these oversized overcomplicated lumps of plastic don't look out of place at all. But what's the problem, they can be recycled can't they? ...Er, no, usually they can't. They are too small for most recycling plants to sort and they are made of a wide variety of plastics as well as materials that can't be separated. And don't get me started on detergent dispensing balls!

As a handy guide we have compared the weight of a dishwashing liquid cap against two shampoo bottle caps. The heaviest, which is a standard rocker cap, was 3.5 times the weight of the Fairy cap.

If we can't recycle these caps shouldn't we be doing something about making them smaller?

Something like a Fairy Liquid cap would do the trick.

If our thoughts excite you, get in touch with Laurel and Stephen at

Image by Fairy