Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Active tags mirror product decay cycle

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Active tags mirror product decay cycle
Innovative tags match time and temperature against product specific criteria and give a clear visual indication of remaining product life
In Use – The product is currently in use in the retail and commercial food industries and, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic sectors.

Product Waste Reduction

Product Categories
Food, Household & Personal Care, Other

Relevant Materials
Not Applicable

Relevant Packaging Formats
Labels, Other

Supply Chain Phase


This technology is based on an intelligent label that mirrors the decay cycle of the product that it is designed to compliment. The label is a multi-layer construction, with each layer having a different function.
Inside the label there are three functional layers:-
1. The Base Layer; Comprising multiple ‘Reservoirs’, each containing different fluids.
2. The Middle layer; Comprising multiple ‘Conduits’of differing lengths filled with High Viscosity Media (HVM), which connect into the reservoirs below to allow the fluids to react with each other.
3. The Top Layer; Having ‘Surface Decoration’ and a ‘Viewing Window’, but which also acts as the ‘Start Mechanism’ for the label when partially,or peelably, removed, 
Once the top layer is partially removed, either at the point of packaging (for fresh produce), or on the point of opening (for pre-processed goods), the label commences operation.
An aqueous solvent in two of the reservoirs starts to dissolve down the HVM within the conduits, the time taken to dissolve the HVM is a precise function of the physical length of the conduit (Variable ‘A’), the solubility of the HVM within it (Variable ‘B’), and the ambient Temperature (Variable ‘C’). During this time the Oli-TecTM label presents ‘Green’ in the viewing window.
When the HVM within the shorter conduit is fully dissolved, ‘Enzymes’ within the aqueous solvent attack and digest a separating ‘Plug’ or barrier which is interspersed between the Viewing Reservoir and the Amber Colour Instigator reservoir. Once the barrier breaks down, the Amber Colour Instigator fluid inter-reacts with the fluid in the viewing reservoir to change its colour, from the ‘Green’ state, to the ‘Amber’ state.
When the HVM within the longer conduit is fully dissolved, ‘Enzymes’ within the aqueous solvent attack and digest a second separating ‘Plug’ or barrier. Once the barrier breaks down, the Red Colour Instigator fluid inter-reacts with the now ‘Amber’ fluidwithin the viewing reservoir to change its colour, from the ‘Amber’ state, to the ‘Red’ state.
The timing of the label (From 3 Days to 3 Months) is unrelated to the speed of colour change of the traffic Light system, which is much faster than other technologies (measured in Minutes and seconds), removing ambiguity, subjectivity, and consumer confusion. The label is designed so that any catastrophic internal failure, (due to external trauma or otherwise), results in a ‘Red’ state, a form of ‘Fail Safe’ mechanism.
It is the responsibility of the manufacturer or producer to determine the “Key Dates” for “Their Products” (based on their own historical test data), and then a label is produced to exactly match these dates. Oli-TecTM operates like a Traffic Light, Green, Amber, and Red, indicating to the consumer the suitability for consumption in a simple, graphical manner, which is universally understood.
In the case of foodstuffs, the green state indicates “GOOD”, the Amber state indicates “BEST BEFORE”, and the red state indicates “USE BY”. In the case of Pharmaceuticals, the green state indicates “GOOD”, and the red state indicates “DISCARD”. Oli-TecTM is both Time and temperature sensitive, to account for different storage conditions.
 Oli-TecTM has been developed by Open Life Packaging Ltd

Potential Benefits

The main benefit of this technology is in preventing food waste by giving a clear visual guide to remaining shelf life and product condition.  Additionally these tags should act as an aid to preventing food safety issues by warning consumers of out of date products.

Intellectual Property

Patents have been filed globally to protect Oli-tec.  European patent number EP1842113 has been granted and is in force in the UK and European patent number EP2201429 has been filed and is due to grant imminently.

All patents are owned by Intray Ltd (Co. No.5367958). Open Life Packaging Ltd area licensed label converter who will sell and distribute the Oli-Tec label.

Consultant View

This technology offers users a clear visual indication of remaining product life based on individual product characteristics.  This is clearly an improvement on simple printed shelf life date information however, it is likely to be more expensive than existing printed shelf life information and will create additional packaging waste in the form of spent labels. Consumer reaction to such tags may not be positive as they might refuse to purchase products showing amber indications which could actually increase food wastage.
Reviewers are recommended to search the REID database and other information sources using terms such as shelf-life extention and active packaging to obtain information on alternative technologies in this field. 

Contacts and Further Information

Open Life Packaging,
Nik Richardson,
Ground Floor, Adelphi Mill,
Grimshaw Lane,
Cheshire,SK10 5JB
E-mail -

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