Packaging

Every last drop

How to get all of the toothpaste out of the tube


May 20th 2021 | words 517

 



 

 


A GNARLED TOOTHPASTE tube, squeezed and twisted out of shape in a vain attempt to extract its remaining contents, haunts many a bathroom. But not, perhaps, for much longer. Colgate-Palmolive, an American consumer-goods giant, has taken up an invention by a pair of experts in super-slippery surfaces to produce toothpaste tubes that promise to deliver every last scrap of their contents.

 

haunt

haunt / hnt / 

verb [VN] 

1. if the ghost of a dead person haunts a place, people say that they have seen it there

()

A headless rider haunts the country lanes.  

  

2. if sth unpleasant haunts you, it keeps coming to your mind so that you cannot forget it

(),:

 The memory of that day still haunts me.   

 

For years she was haunted by guilt.   

 

3. to continue to cause problems for sb for a long time

()

That decision came back to haunt him.  

 

 

In 2012 Kripa Varanasi, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dave Smith, his PhD student, set up a company called LiquiGlide to commercialise their work on making liquids flow more easily through pipes and out of containers. What caught many peoples imaginations at the time was a demonstration of how this could be used to empty a ketchup bottle without shaking it vigorously.

 

So far, ketchup-makers have not embraced the idea. But the health and beauty industry, where products tend to be pricier than ketchup, is interested. Mibelle Group, a Swiss producer of health-care and beauty products, employs the technology to lessen the amount of material left stuck to the insides of pipes and vessels in its factories when it is time for a clean-up. LiquiGlides deal with Colgate is, though, the firms first big break into a consumer business.

 

The new toothpaste, called Elixir, comes in three varieties: a formula for whitening teeth, one for gum and enamel care and a detox version which, it is claimed, removes impurities from the mouth. All are packaged in plastic tubes that can be emptied with ease. Elixir has gone on sale in Europe, though no decision has yet been made about whether it will be sold elsewhere.

 

enamel

enamel / inml / 

noun 

1. [U, C] a substance that is melted onto metal, pots, etc. and forms a hard shiny surface to protect or decorate them; an object made from enamel 

a chipped enamel bowl  

 

a handle inlaid with enamel   

 

 an exhibition of enamels and jewellery   

 

2. [U] the hard white outer layer of a tooth

(),

3. (also enamel 'paint) [U, C] 

a type of paint that dries to leave a hard shiny surface

 

 

impurity

impurity / impjurti; NAmE -pjur- / 

noun (pl. -ies)

1. [C] a substance that is present in small amounts in another substance, making it dirty or of poor quality

A filter will remove most impurities found in water.   

 

2. [U] the state of being dirty or not pure

OPP purity 

 

 

To produce their slippery pipes and containers, Dr Varanasi and Dr Smith first impose a microscopically textured pattern on them and then apply a suitably formulated liquid. This fills the gaps in the texture, creating a surface across which gooey substances slide easily. Any risk of contamination can be eliminated by making the liquid in question from materials also employed in the product.

 

gooey

gooey / gui /

adj.

(informal)soft and sticky

a gooey mess   

 

gooey cakes  

 

 

contaminate

contaminate / kntmineit / 

verb [VN]

1. ~ sth (with sth) to make a substance or place dirty or no longer pure by adding a substance that is dangerous or carries disease

SYN adulterate 

The drinking water has become contaminated with lead.  

  

contaminated blood / food / soil   

// 

2. (formal) to influence people's ideas or attitudes in a bad way

,,()

They were accused of contaminating the minds of our young people.  

  

-- see also uncontaminated 

contamination / kn-tminein / 

noun [U] : 

radioactive contamination   

 

-- see also cross-contamination 

 

 

 

Besides pleasing customers who like to get their moneys worth, the new, slippery toothpaste tubes should help with recycling. Existing tubes are rarely recycled, not only because they have residue left inside them but also because they are usually made from a laminate of plastic and aluminium foil. Mixed materials of this sort are hard to recycle, and therefore end up being dumped in landfill, or incinerated.

 

laminate

laminate / lmint / 

noun [U, C]

a material that is laminated 

() 

 

incinerate

incinerate / insinreit / 

verb [VN]

[often passive] to burn sth until it is completely destroyed

incineration / insinrein / 

noun [U] : 

high-temperature incineration plants  

 

 

 

Despite their success with toothpaste, Dr Varanasi and Dr Smith have not given up on food producers. Besides ketchup, their slippery surfaces also aid the dispensing of products such as mayonnaise, and may help, too, with things like hummus and soured cream that have a thicker consistency and which usually come in tubs. They have, for instance, carried out a trial putting cream cheese into a squeezy bottle with a slot-shaped dispenser. You get this perfect strip of cream cheese right on your bagel, enthuses Dr Smith. 

 

dispense

dispense / dispens / 

verb [VN] 

1. ~ sth (to sb) to give out sth to people

The machine dispenses a range of drinks and snacks. 

   

2. ~ sth (to sb) (formal) to provide sth, especially a service, for people

,()

The organization dispenses free health care to the poor.   

 

to dispense justice / advice   

 

3. to prepare medicine and give it to people, as a job

()()

to dispense a prescription   

 

 

mayonnaise

mayonnaise / meineiz; NAmE meineiz / 

noun [U]

a thick cold white sauce made from eggs, oil and vinegar , used to add flavour to sandwiches , salads, etc

. ()

egg mayonnaise (= a dish made with hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise )   

()

 

hummus

hummus (also houmous) / hums; hums / 

noun [U]

a type of food, originally from the Middle East, that is a soft mixture of chickpeas , oil and garlic 

(,) 

 

 

bagel

bagel  / beigl /

noun

a hard bread roll shaped like a ring

()









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Economist | Every last drop



Packaging

Every last drop

How to get all of the toothpaste out of the tube


May 20th 2021 | words 517

 



 

 


A GNARLED TOOTHPASTE tube, squeezed and twisted out of shape in a vain attempt to extract its remaining contents, haunts many a bathroom. But not, perhaps, for much longer. Colgate-Palmolive, an American consumer-goods giant, has taken up an invention by a pair of experts in super-slippery surfaces to produce toothpaste tubes that promise to deliver every last scrap of their contents.

 

haunt

haunt / hnt / 

verb [VN] 

1. if the ghost of a dead person haunts a place, people say that they have seen it there

()

A headless rider haunts the country lanes.  

  

2. if sth unpleasant haunts you, it keeps coming to your mind so that you cannot forget it

(),:

 The memory of that day still haunts me.   

 

For years she was haunted by guilt.   

 

3. to continue to cause problems for sb for a long time

()

That decision came back to haunt him.  

 

 

In 2012 Kripa Varanasi, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dave Smith, his PhD student, set up a company called LiquiGlide to commercialise their work on making liquids flow more easily through pipes and out of containers. What caught many peoples imaginations at the time was a demonstration of how this could be used to empty a ketchup bottle without shaking it vigorously.

 

So far, ketchup-makers have not embraced the idea. But the health and beauty industry, where products tend to be pricier than ketchup, is interested. Mibelle Group, a Swiss producer of health-care and beauty products, employs the technology to lessen the amount of material left stuck to the insides of pipes and vessels in its factories when it is time for a clean-up. LiquiGlides deal with Colgate is, though, the firms first big break into a consumer business.

 

The new toothpaste, called Elixir, comes in three varieties: a formula for whitening teeth, one for gum and enamel care and a detox version which, it is claimed, removes impurities from the mouth. All are packaged in plastic tubes that can be emptied with ease. Elixir has gone on sale in Europe, though no decision has yet been made about whether it will be sold elsewhere.

 

enamel

enamel / inml / 

noun 

1. [U, C] a substance that is melted onto metal, pots, etc. and forms a hard shiny surface to protect or decorate them; an object made from enamel 

a chipped enamel bowl  

 

a handle inlaid with enamel   

 

 an exhibition of enamels and jewellery   

 

2. [U] the hard white outer layer of a tooth

(),

3. (also enamel 'paint) [U, C] 

a type of paint that dries to leave a hard shiny surface

 

 

impurity

impurity / impjurti; NAmE -pjur- / 

noun (pl. -ies)

1. [C] a substance that is present in small amounts in another substance, making it dirty or of poor quality

A filter will remove most impurities found in water.   

 

2. [U] the state of being dirty or not pure

OPP purity 

 

 

To produce their slippery pipes and containers, Dr Varanasi and Dr Smith first impose a microscopically textured pattern on them and then apply a suitably formulated liquid. This fills the gaps in the texture, creating a surface across which gooey substances slide easily. Any risk of contamination can be eliminated by making the liquid in question from materials also employed in the product.

 

gooey

gooey / gui /

adj.

(informal)soft and sticky

a gooey mess   

 

gooey cakes  

 

 

contaminate

contaminate / kntmineit / 

verb [VN]

1. ~ sth (with sth) to make a substance or place dirty or no longer pure by adding a substance that is dangerous or carries disease

SYN adulterate 

The drinking water has become contaminated with lead.  

  

contaminated blood / food / soil   

// 

2. (formal) to influence people's ideas or attitudes in a bad way

,,()

They were accused of contaminating the minds of our young people.  

  

-- see also uncontaminated 

contamination / kn-tminein / 

noun [U] : 

radioactive contamination   

 

-- see also cross-contamination 

 

 

 

Besides pleasing customers who like to get their moneys worth, the new, slippery toothpaste tubes should help with recycling. Existing tubes are rarely recycled, not only because they have residue left inside them but also because they are usually made from a laminate of plastic and aluminium foil. Mixed materials of this sort are hard to recycle, and therefore end up being dumped in landfill, or incinerated.

 

laminate

laminate / lmint / 

noun [U, C]

a material that is laminated 

() 

 

incinerate

incinerate / insinreit / 

verb [VN]

[often passive] to burn sth until it is completely destroyed

incineration / insinrein / 

noun [U] : 

high-temperature incineration plants  

 

 

 

Despite their success with toothpaste, Dr Varanasi and Dr Smith have not given up on food producers. Besides ketchup, their slippery surfaces also aid the dispensing of products such as mayonnaise, and may help, too, with things like hummus and soured cream that have a thicker consistency and which usually come in tubs. They have, for instance, carried out a trial putting cream cheese into a squeezy bottle with a slot-shaped dispenser. You get this perfect strip of cream cheese right on your bagel, enthuses Dr Smith. 

 

dispense

dispense / dispens / 

verb [VN] 

1. ~ sth (to sb) to give out sth to people

The machine dispenses a range of drinks and snacks. 

   

2. ~ sth (to sb) (formal) to provide sth, especially a service, for people

,()

The organization dispenses free health care to the poor.   

 

to dispense justice / advice   

 

3. to prepare medicine and give it to people, as a job

()()

to dispense a prescription   

 

 

mayonnaise

mayonnaise / meineiz; NAmE meineiz / 

noun [U]

a thick cold white sauce made from eggs, oil and vinegar , used to add flavour to sandwiches , salads, etc

. ()

egg mayonnaise (= a dish made with hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise )   

()

 

hummus

hummus (also houmous) / hums; hums / 

noun [U]

a type of food, originally from the Middle East, that is a soft mixture of chickpeas , oil and garlic 

(,) 

 

 

bagel

bagel  / beigl /

noun

a hard bread roll shaped like a ring

()









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