US 20020130138 A1
A multiple compartment flexible pouch which, when comprising compositions, is designed to be used to refill a multiple compartment container. The multiple compartment pouch comprises at least a first and at least a second compartment, at least a first dispensing channel sealed into an opening in the first compartment and at least a second dispensing channel sealed into an opening in the second compartment. In a preferred embodiment the first and second dispensing channels form part of a dispensing channel unit.
1. A multiple compartment flexible pouch (1) comprising at least a first (3) and at least a second (4) compartment, at least a first dispensing channel (11) sealed into an opening in the first compartment (3) and at least a second dispensing channel (12) sealed into an opening in the second compartment (4) and wherein compositions in each of the compartments are dispensed from the corresponding dispensing channel without causing to mix.
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14. A process of refilling a multiple compartment container comprising multiple refilling orifices and comprising a composition in each compartment, said process comprising connecting the channels (11, 12) of a multiple compartment pouch (1) according to
15. A method of using the multiple compartment pouch (1) according to
16. A dispensing channel unit (13) suitable for use with a multiple compartment flexible pouch (1) comprising a first section (14) providing a dispensing channel (11, 12) and a adjacent second section (15) set at an angle to the first section, and wherein the first (14) and second sections (15) have tapered ends (16, 17, 18).
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20. A multiple compartment flexible pouch (1) comprising at least a first (3) and at least a second (4) compartment, at least a first dispensing channel (11) sealed into an opening in the first compartment (3) and at least a second dispensing channel (12) sealed into an opening in the second compartment (4) and wherein compositions in each of the compartments are dispensed from the corresponding dispensing channel without causing to mix, and wherein the dispensing channels are designed to spatially cooperate with refill orifices of a multiple compartment container.
 This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(a) to European Patent Application Serial No. 01870050.0, filed Mar. 15, 2001 (Attorney Docket No. CM2508F).
 The present invention relates to a multiple compartment flexible pouch comprising multiple dispensing channels. The dispensing channels are preferably combined in a single piece and provides a dispensing orifice from each compartment of the pouch without allowing the contents of each of the compartments to mix.
 The present invention relates to a multiple compartment pouch which is suitable for use as a refill for a more rigid and durable container. For example the present pouch may be designed to refill a multiple compartment bottle.
 Many liquid consumable products are sold in relatively rigid plastic bottles which are durable but generally designed to be discarded when empty. However, as consumers have become more environmentally aware, a need arose for minimising wastage of resources. For this reason, refill pouches or bags were designed such that the consumer could refill their original bottle. The refill was basically a sealed plastic pouch and the consumer was instructed to cut the corner of the pouch and pour the contents into the original bottle to refill it.
 Consumable liquid products have however become more sophisticated over time. Products comprising two or more compositions allow the formulator more flexibility in terms of which ingredients can be provided to the consumer. For example incompatible ingredients can be separated, compositions providing different benefits can be dispensed simultaneously (e.g. detergent and fabric softener, detergent and bleach, detergent and fabric colour stabiliser). It is therefore preferred in such instances that the product be sold in a multiple compartment container or bottle, wherein one composition is stored in one compartment and the second composition is stored in a second compartment. An example of a multiple compartment bottle is described in our co-pending European patent application number 00870095.7. Such containers are complicated and expensive. It would therefore be preferable to refill the container when empty, rather than dispose of it. However, to date, no multiple compartment refill pouches are available to refill a multiple compartment bottle. The Applicants have designed such a multiple compartment refill pouch which is the subject of a co-pending European patent application (attorney docket number CM 2511F). Having achieved a multiple compartment refill pouch however, the Applicants have found that dispensing the product contained within the compartments of the pouch into the original bottle proves problematic. The previously available single compartment refill pouches instructed the user to cut the corner and then pour the contents into the original bottle. However this system of dispensing invariably causes a mess as the refill pouch and flow of product are difficult to control and product tends to spill down the sides of the bottle. This is particularly an issue when there are two or more compartments to deal with, since aligning two streams of product would be almost impossible without accepting an even greater degree of spillage. Spillage of the product not only creates a mess, but may also be dangerous if either or both of the compositions are aggressive. Moreover, the compositions in each compartment are likely to be different, in which case any mixing of the compositions may have an adverse effect on the performance and/or stability of the compositions and thus the product as a whole.
 It has therefore been the object of the present invention to provide a multiple compartment refill pouch which can be filled with the same or different compositions and said compositions can be dispensing into a receptacle, preferably a multiple compartment bottle, without mixing and with minimum spillage.
 In a preferred embodiment the multiple compartment refill pouch of the present invention is designed to be used to refill the container as described in our co-pending European patent application number 00870095.7.
 According to the present invention there is provided a multiple compartment flexible pouch 1 comprising at least a first 3 and at least a second 4 compartment, at least a first dispensing channel 11 sealed into an opening in the first compartment 3 and at least a second dispensing channel 1 2 sealed into an opening in the second compartment 4 and wherein compositions in each of the compartments are dispensed from the corresponding dispensing channel without causing to mix.
 According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a process of refilling a multiple compartment container having multiple refilling orifices, by connecting the channels 11, 12, of a multiple compartment pouch 1 according to the present invention and comprising a composition in each compartment, with the refilling orifices of the container and orienting the pouch such that the compositions flow into the container.
 According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided the use of a multiple compartment pouch 1 comprising a first and second composition in the compartments 3, 4 of the pouch to refill a multiple compartment container.
 The invention will now be described by way of example and with reference to the accompanying diagrams in which:
FIG. 1: cross section of multiple compartment pouch
FIG. 2: cross section of multiple compartment pouch
FIG. 3: perspective view of dispensing channel unit
FIG. 4: front view of dispensing channel unit
FIGS. 1 and 2 show diagrams of the multiple compartment pouch according to the present invention. The present invention relates to a multiple compartment pouch 1, which, when comprising a composition, is designed to be used to refill a multiple compartment container. The multiple compartment flexible pouch of the present invention can be made from any suitable material. More preferably the compartments of the pouch are made from sealable films. Preferred sealable films include those made from plastics, polymers, laminated materials and mixtures thereof. A sealable material as described herein is a material which is capable of adhering to the same or another material through a sealing process. Sealing processes include any suitable technique known in the art, more preferably heat sealing, ultrasonic sealing, glue sealing, pressure sealing, induction sealing and mixtures thereof. Heat sealing encompasses heating the films to the point where they both melt and form a connection and then allow to cool. Induction sealing is a similar technique to heat sealing but requires the films to contain a metal layer e.g. aluminium. The metal layer is heated by applying a strong magnetic field, which then causes the sealing film to melt and form a connection as before. Ultrasonic sealing requires localised high frequency vibration of the two films to create heat which then melts the films as before. Glue sealing is simply where glue is added to the film to stick the two sheets of film together. Pressure sealing is a gluing process where the glue is pressure sensitive and the seal is created by pressing the two sheets of film together. Importantly, the material from which the pouch is made and the seals described above should be impermeable and stable with regards to the compositions stored in the compartment. With regards to the latter point, it may be preferable to use a laminated film including a barrier layer. A barrier layer is defined as a sheet of material which protects the physical or chemical stability of the composition stored in the compartment. Examples of suitable barrier layer materials may be selected from anything that prevents or reduces the ingress of external elements e.g. water, gases, the egress of internal components (e.g. the composition), light. Preferred examples of such barrier layers include aluminium, ethyl vinyl alcohol, nylon and mixtures thereof.
 In a preferred aspect the sealable film is 20 to 500 microns thick, more preferably 70 to 300 microns and most preferably 90 to 150 microns thick. More preferably the pouch is made from plastic, more preferably plastics selected from the group consisting of polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, ethyl vinyl alcohol and mixtures thereof.
 In another preferred embodiment the pouch may comprise an aesthetic layer, which for example may trap inks and thus would be suitable for displaying usage instructions and other trade dress features, for example brand names. Alternatively the sealable or barrier layer may provide this function and the aesthetic layer, where present, may be a transparent layer suitable for protecting the sealable layer. Preferably the aesthetic layer is made from polyethylene terephthalate. Most preferably the sealable film of the compartments of the pouch is made from polyethylene and the aesthetic layer is made from polyethylene terephthalate. More preferably the polyethylene film is 50-130 microns thick and the polyethylene terephthalate film is 6-20 microns thick.
 The pouch comprises at least two compartments, 3 and 4. However it is also envisaged that the pouch may comprise more than two compartments, more preferably three, four or even five compartments. The pouch may be made by any suitable method. In a preferred embodiment the pouch is made by sealing two sheets of sealable material, preferably plastic to one another around the perimeter of the sheet, 5,6,7 and 8. The sheets may be attached to one another using any known method, for example those listed above. More preferably the sheets of plastic are heat sealed around the perimeter, meaning that heat is applied to the area of plastics to be sealed causing the plastic to melt. The sheets of plastic remain irreversibly attached to one another after cooling.
 The pouch of the present invention comprises at least a first, 3 and at least a second, 4 compartment. The compartments of the pouch may be made singly and attached to one another using any suitable method for example those discussed above. More preferably however, the compartments are made by making a single compartment pouch and by sealing,9, through a section of the pouch to form at least two distinct, liquid-tight, sealed compartments (FIG. 1). Sealing can be again performed by any suitable method known in the art, but is preferably made by heat sealing as discussed above. Compartments made in this way will be oriented side-by side. It is however also envisaged that the pouch of the present invention may comprise at least two compartments that are located one inside the other. In this embodiment one compartment is clearly smaller that the second. In any of the above embodiments the seal between the first and second compartment is permanent, meaning that it is no more easily rupturable that the seal surrounding the perimeter of the pouch.
 In a preferred embodiment, the pouch additionally comprises a gripping means. By gripping means it is meant a device which helps the consumer to gain control of the pouch. Examples of a ‘gripping means’ include handles, areas of high friction material, rigid sections and any feature that increases the consumers grip on the pouch. Said gripping means may be positioned anywhere on the surface of the pouch, preferably on an edge, most preferably on the edge of the pouch furthest from the outlets. A gripping means provides not only ease of carrying and transporting the pouch, but also provides an easier method of manipulating the pouch so as to dispense the compositions contained therein. In a further preferred embodiment the pouch comprises a gusset. A gusset is an additional folded segment of film that is folded into and sealed in one edge of the pouch and serves to provide a larger surface area on which the pouch can be stood. This particularly useful when storing the product or when displaying in a shop.
 The first and second compartments of the pouch comprise at least a first dispensing channel 11 sealed into an opening in the first compartment 3 and at least a second dispensing channel 12 sealed into an opening in the second compartment 4. The first and second dispensing channels form dispensing orifices through which the composition stored in the compartments can be dispensed. The channel is preferably positioned between the sheets of plastic during the pouch manufacturing process. However it is also envisaged that the channel may instead be positioned in the sheet. In either case the channel must be sealed into position so as to prevent any leakage of the composition from the compartment. More preferably the at least first 11 and at least second 12 dispensing channels are connected to one another to form part of a dispensing channel unit 13 (FIGS. 3 and 4). Any suitable technique of sealing, for example those described in more detail above, may be used to seal the dispensing channel or dispensing channel unit into the compartments of the pouch. More preferably the dispensing channel or dispensing channel unit is heat sealed into the compartments and thus is preferably made from a heat sealable material. A dispensing channel unit as opposed to two single, unconnected dispensing channels which are positioned in close proximity to each other, provides better sealing of the channels with the compartments. This is because it can be difficult to achieve guaranteed sealing when there is little space between the single channels.
 In an especially preferred embodiment the dispensing channel unit 13 comprises a first section 14 providing a dispensing channel 11, 12 and an adjacent second section 15 set at an angle to the first section 14. The first section 14 is preferably positioned horizontally, parallel with the exterior edges of the pouch. The second section 15 follows the line of seal separating the compartments and thus may be at any angle versus the first section between greater than 1° and less than 180°. More preferably the second section 15 is at an angle of substantially 90° versus the first section 14. More preferably the ends of the dispensing channel unit are tapered 16, 17, 18. Tapering the ends of the unit improves the sealing between the unit and the perimeter seal of the pouch and between the unit and seal separating the two compartments. The channels and/or dispensing channel unit are preferably pre-molded, more preferably injection molded. The channels or channel dispensing unit are preferably made from materials selected from any sealable material more preferably polyethylene, polypropylene and mixture thereof. In a preferred embodiment the exterior surfaces of the dispensing channel and/or dispensing channel unit are ribbed 19. Ribbing provides improved heat sealing versus a surface that does not comprise ribbing.
 Preferably in order to prevent spillage during transport and storage the dispensing channels of the multiple compartment flexible pouch are closed. The closure may be selected from the group consisting of: a removable screw or snap-on cap; a lid; a removable plug; a non-removable plug which may for example be spring loaded or comprise a valve; a rupturable, peelable or pierceable membrane; and mixture thereof.
 As discussed above the present multiple compartment pouch is designed to be used to dispense the compositions stored in the compartments of the pouch into a receptacle. A receptacle may in this respect mean any suitable container or a dosing ball. But as discussed above the pouch of the present invention is designed to be used to refill a multiple compartment bottle. The process of refilling requires aligning or connecting the channels of the multiple compartment pouch with the refill orifices of the multiple compartment container and orienting the pouch such that the compositions flow into the container. By aligning it is meant that the dispensing channels and the refill orifices do not connect with one another. Alternatively the channels and refill orifices of the container may be designed to connect and remain connected to each other during the refilling process and can then preferably be disconnected. In a particularly preferred embodiment as described above the channels and refill orifices of the container are so designed that they can only connect in one predetermined spatial orientation. For example the shape of the each channel may be such that it connects with one of the refill orifices only. This ‘lock and key’ system permits the manufacturer of the compositions to ensure that the consumer refills each compartment of the multiple compartment container with the correct composition from the refill.
 In a preferred embodiment of the present invention excess amount of material are used to make the pouch such that it has greater volume than necessary in view of the volume of composition. It is then possible to connect the channels of the pouch with the refill orifices of the multiple compartment container, without having to lift the pouch. This improves the ease of handling since the connection between the channels and the refill orifices can be made before the pouch is lifted and turned up side down to drain the composition into the container.
 In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the compartments of the pouch are filled with a flowable composition. The composition may be in liquid, gel or particulate form, but is preferable a liquid. The composition may be the same, but are preferably different. By different it is meant that the compositions differ in the presence of at least one component which is present in a first composition, but absent in a second composition or vice versa. More preferably, the first composition stored in the first compartment is a conventional cleaning composition, for example a conventional laundry detergent composition comprising at least a surfactant. The second composition in one preferred embodiment is a bleaching composition comprising at least a peracid, more preferably a peroxyacid, most preferably phthaloyl amido peroxycaproic acid (PAP). In an alternative preferred embodiment, the second composition is a fabric care composition comprising a component selected from (I) fabric softeners, (II) textile color care agents, (note that optical brighteners are not included in this component as they are treated as fabric cleaning agents for the purposes of the present invention), (III) textile property modifiers, from which textile oder modifiers are specifically excluded, (IV) textile odor modifiers, (V) fabric care actives other than (I)-(IV), and (VI) mixtures thereof. The active of the fabric care composition (I-VI) is preferably present at a level of from about 0.001% to about 80%, more preferably from about 0.1% to about 40% by weight of the fabric care composition.
 Preferably the fabric care composition comprises at least one of said fabric softeners (I), and wherein said fabric softeners are selected from the group consisting of: (A) organic fabric softeners, (B) inorganic fabric softeners, e.g., clays, preferably hectorite clays, and (C) mixtures thereof and/or hybrid organic-inorganic fabric softeners. When present, fabric softeners are used in an amount between 1% and 30% by weight of the compositions.
 One preferred group of fabric softeners for use as the fabric care active are organic fabric softeners (A), and wherein said organic fabric softener is selected from the group consisting of: (i) quaternary nitrogen-containing organic fabric softeners free from ester and/or amide moieties such as are disclosed in WO 00/24851 beginning on page 61; (ii) quaternary nitrogen-containing organic fabric softeners comprising ester and/or amide and/or olefinically unsaturated moieties, preferably quaternary nitrogen-containing organic fabric softeners comprising ester moieties, such as described in WO 00/24851 beginning on page 62; (iii) quaternary-nitrogen-free organic fabric softeners, such as are described in WO 00/24851, beginning on page 74; and (iv) mixtures thereof. Notably, the type (ii) organic fabric softeners described above are generally preferred over the type (i) organic fabric softeners. Preferred inorganic fabric softeners for use in the articles of the present invention are clays, preferably hectorite clays, and the inorganic fabric softeners disclosed in WO 97/04065 beginning on page 5. Hybrid organic-inorganic fabric softeners, such as organo-modified clays, that may be used to advantage in the articles of the present invention include organosilicones softeners amongst other materials.
 A preferred group of fabric care actives are textile color care agents (II) selected from the group consisting of dye fixatives, dye transfer inhibitors, color maintenance agents, whiteness enhancers, anti-fading agents including bleach scavengers and/or antioxidants, color appearance restoration agents of non-chelant types (e.g., Carezyme®), brightness restoration agents e.g., antiencrustation agents, UV protection agents for fabrics, sun fade inhibitors, anti-fading agents, and mixtures thereof. Such materials are well known to those skilled in the art and descriptions thereof are common in the patent literature such as found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,107,270 and 6,020,302, which are commonly assigned to The Procter & Gamble Company. “Textile color care agents” as used herein refers to materials that provide a color care benefit to laundered fabrics primarily by preserving the existing fabric colors and preventing their degradation. “Textile color care agents” should not be understood to refer to optical brighteners or other cleaning agents as described above. Textile color care agents are not intended to provide a general detersive effect such as is typical of bleaches and surfactants. When present in one or more compositions of the articles of the present invention, textile color care agents are used in an amount between about 0.1% and about 10% by weight of the compositions.
 Another preferred group of fabric care actives are textile property modifiers (III) selected from the group consisting of fabric bodying agents, fabric drape and form control agents, fabric smoothness agents, static control agents other than fabric softeners inherently possessing static control ability, fabric wrinkle control and/or ironing aid agents, fabric integrity agents, fabric anti-abrasion agents, fabric anti-wear agents, humectants and/or lubricants, pill removal agents, insect repellents, mite control agents, non-bleaching fabric sanitizers, e.g., fabric substantive antibacterials and/or antiviral agents and/or antifungals, flame retardants and mixtures thereof. “Textile property modifiers” specifically excludes odor modifiers which are treated separately herein. When present in one or more compositions of the articles of the present invention, textile property modifiers are used in an amount between about 0.1% and about 10% by weight of the compositions.
 Other preferred fabric care actives are textile odor modifiers (IV) selected from the group consisting of perfumes, (preferably pro-perfumes and/or substantive perfumes and/or perfumes combined with perfume carriers), odor enhancers, malodor control agents and mixtures thereof. When present in one ore more compositions of the articles of the present invention, textile odor modifiers are used in an amount between about 0. 1% and about 10% by weight of the compositions.
 A well known group of fabric care actives, including both quaternary ammonium functionalized and nonquaternary types, is the organosilicones.