Title:
Trash receptacles that use plastic grocery bags as liners and methods of advertising
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
One aspect of the invention relates to a trash receptacle adapted to use a plastic grocery bag as a liner. The trash receptacle has a back wall and two side walls, but a front that is open or at least partially open. Another aspect of the invention also relates to a trash receptacle adapted to use a plastic grocery bag as a liner. According to this aspect of the invention, the trash receptacle has a backboard. A further aspect of the invention relates to advertising by offering a trash receptacle adapted to use a plastic grocery bag as a liner as an advertising specialty. A still further aspect of the invention relates to using trash receptacles adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners as a marketing premium in a continuity promotion.



Inventors:
Harris, Jennifer Hope (Cleveland, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/351215
Publication Date:
01/01/2004
Filing Date:
01/25/2003
Assignee:
HARRIS JENNIFER HOPE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65F1/06; (IPC1-7): B65D35/14; B65D90/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
GROSSO, HARRY A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PAUL V. KELLER, PLC (Shaker Heights, OH, US)
Claims:

The claims are:



1. A trash receptacle, comprising: a body having a back wall, two side walls, and a front, the front being at least partially open; and fittings on or formed in the body and adapted to support a plastic grocery bag in an open position.

2. The trash receptacle of claim 1, wherein, the front is open to an extent that permits viewing of a company logo printed on the center of a plastic grocery bag supported by the fittings.

3. The trash receptacle of claim 1, wherein, the open front allows the trash receptacle to be pushed into an under sink cabinet past a waste trap descending to with about 8 inches of a floor of the sink cabinet.

4. The trash receptacle of claim 1, further comprising a backboard.

5. The trash receptacle of claim 1, wherein the fittings are slots adapted to receive the handles of the plastic grocery bag.

6. A trash receptacle, comprising: a body having a back; fittings on or formed in the body and adapted to support a plastic grocery bag in an open position; and a backboard.

7. The trash receptacle of claim 6, further comprising a protrusion from the back that facilitates tilting the trash receptacle toward a user when the back is facing the user.

8. The trash receptacle of claim 6, wherein an advertisement is placed on the backboard.

9. The trash receptacle of claim 6, wherein the fittings are slots adapted to receive the handles of the plastic grocery bag.

10. A method advertising, comprising: using trash receptacles adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners as an advertising specialty.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein the trash receptacles are made of cardboard.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein the trash receptacles have a backboard.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the backboard carries an advertisement.

14. The method of claim 10, wherein the trash receptacles have a front that is at least partially open.

15. A method of advertising, comprising: using trash receptacles adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners as a marketing premium in a continuity promotion.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the trash receptacles form a series following a theme.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the trash receptacles are disposable.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein the trash receptacles are durable.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein the trash receptacles carry advertising.

20. The method of claim 15, wherein the trash receptacles have a front that is open to an extent that permits viewing of a company logos printed on the centers of the plastic grocery bags when they are used as liners.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to trash receptacles adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners, methods of marketing them, and methods of using them in advertising.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Paper grocery bags have largely been replaced by bags made from a flexible plastic film. A typical consumer receives a large number of these plastic grocery bags every year as a natural result of patronizing supermarkets and other retail stores that use plastic grocery bags.

[0003] Many consumers, whether out of a desire to save money, conserve resources, or reduce the waste inherent in the widespread use of plastic, seek to get a second use out of plastic grocery bags as trash receptacle liners. Plastic grocery bags by themselves are not generally used as trash receptacles, because they collapse into a limp pile when placed unsupported on the floor.

[0004] Plastic grocery bags do not function very well as liners in trash receptacles not specifically designed to receive them. Typically, trash receptacles are either too small or too large and do not contain fittings to hold plastic grocery bags in place. As a result, most consumers do not get a second use out of most of their plastic grocery bags. There has been a long felt need for trash receptacles adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners

[0005] Recognizing this need, many inventors have come forth with their proposals and many patents have been issued for trash receptacles adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners. However, the vast majority of consumers have never seen or heard of one of these trash receptacle ideas.

[0006] There remains an unsatisfied need for a trash receptacle that adequately address the needs of consumers interested in using plastic grocery bags as trash receptacle liners. There also remains an unsatisfied need for effectively marketing a trash receptacle that uses plastic grocery bags as liners.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The following presents a simplified summary of the invention in order to provide a basic understanding of some of its aspects. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention and is intended neither to identify key or critical elements of the invention nor to delineate its scope. The primary purpose of this summary is to present some concepts of the invention in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later.

[0008] One aspect of the invention relates to a trash receptacle adapted to use a plastic grocery bag as a liner. The trash receptacle has a back wall and two side walls, but a front that is open or at least partially open. The open front provides advantages including keeping a logo on a plastic bag within the trash receptacle visible to a user over an extended period of time, making the level of trash in the bag more visible, and facilitating storage and use of the trash receptacle in an under sink cabinet that may contain a disposal and/or waste trap.

[0009] Another aspect of the invention also relates to a trash receptacle adapted to use a plastic grocery bag as a liner. According to this aspect of the invention, the trash receptacle has a backboard. The backboard provides an excellent position to place advertising, as well as facilitating disposal of trash within the bag.

[0010] A further aspect of the invention relates to advertising by offering a trash receptacle adapted to use a plastic grocery bag as a liner as an advertising specialty. As an advertising specialty, the trash receptacles are generally given away and act as a mini-billboard, keeping the advertiser's name or message in front of the consumer over an extended period of time.

[0011] A still further aspect of the invention relates to a continuity promotion based on a series of trash receptacles adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners. In the continuity promotion, a series of trash receptacles are offered, generally following a theme. Traffic and/or profits are increased by encouraging customers to return to a store each time a new design in the series is released.

[0012] Other advantages and novel features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention and the accompanying drawings. The detailed description of the invention and drawings provide exemplary embodiments of the invention. These exemplary embodiments are indicative of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the invention can be employed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 is an illustration of trash receptacle according to one embodiment of the present invention using a plastic grocery bag as a liner.

[0014] FIG. 2 is an illustration of the trash receptacle of FIG. 1 with its back tipped toward the user.

[0015] FIG. 3 is an illustration of the trash receptacle of FIG. 1 stored with its back to the front in an under sink cabinet.

[0016] FIG. 4 is a layout for a cardboard trash receptacle according to another embodiment of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 5 illustrates a cardboard trash receptacle according to the layout of FIG. 4 folded into a compact shape for shipping.

[0018] FIG. 6 illustrates a cardboard trash receptacle according to a further embodiment of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 7 is a layout for the cardboard trash receptacle of FIG. 6.

[0020] FIG. 8 illustrates a cardboard trash receptacle according to a further embodiment of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 9 is a layout for the cardboard trash receptacle of FIG. 8.

[0022] FIG. 10 illustrates a cardboard trash receptacle according to a further embodiment of the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 11 is a layout for the cardboard trash receptacle of FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0024] FIG. 1 is an illustration of a trash receptacle 100 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The trash receptacle 100 includes handle slots 101, sides 103 and 105, a back 107, and a reservoir panel 109. The back 103 includes a backboard 111. The front of the trash receptacle 100 is open. The trash receptacle 100 is shown with a plastic grocery bag 120 with its handles inserted in handle slots 101.

[0025] Handle slots 101 are adapted to receive the handles of a standard plastic grocery bag. The handle slots 101 are preferably from about 5 to about 8 inches apart, more preferably from about 6 to about 7 inches apart. The handle slots 101 preferably descend to within about 12 to about 20 inches of the reservoir panel 109, more preferably to within about 13 to about 15 inches, still more preferably to within about 14 inches.

[0026] Handle slots are easy to use and easy to form, however, the trash receptacle 100 can be provided with alternate means for holding the plastic grocery bag 120 in an up and open position. Suitable alternate means include, without limitation, hooks, clamps, and pegs. The mounting means can be formed in or on the sides 103 and 105. They can protrude in or out of the trash receptacle 100. For example, in one design the mounting means also serve as handles protruding from the sides of the trash receptacle 100 and the plastic grocery bag 120 is mounted by wrapping the grocery bag handles over the tops of the sides 103 and 105 and looping the grocery bag handles around the trash receptacle handles.

[0027] Handle slots 101 are formed in sides 103 and 105. The handle slots 101 that are opposite one another on sides 103 and 105 respectively are preferably from about 8 to about 14 inches apart, more preferably from about 10 to about 12 inches apart, still more preferably about 11 inches apart. The trash receptacle 100 is shown in a rectangular design, where sides 103 and 105 are easily identified separate from the back and front of the trash receptacle 100. However, the trash receptacle 100 can be round, in which case sides 103 and 105 would be identified by the location of the handle slots 101 or other mounting means.

[0028] Two of the handle slots 101 are formed near the back 107 to make small or eliminate the space between the opening of the bag 120 and the back 107. When this space is small or absent, trash deflected from backboard 111 has little chance of falling between the bag 120 and the backboard 111.

[0029] The backboard 111 is part of the back 107. In general, in the context of the present invention, a backboard is defined as a wall portion, or extension to a wall portion, that extends substantially above the opening of a plastic grocery bag when the bag is mounted in the trash receptacle. A wall portion that rises only slightly above the upper edge of the plastic grocery bag, one or two inches for example, due to the position of mounting mean for the grocery bag, would not be considered a backboard. If the wall portion rises six or more inches above the upper edge of the grocery bag, however, it can be considered a backboard. Generally, the average height of a back having a backboard is greater than the average height of other wall portions of the trash receptacle.

[0030] The back 107 including the backboard 111 is an example of an extended back panel. The sides 103 and 105 are angled in part to provide support for the backboard 111. The angled portions of sides 103 and 105 also function to provide additional advertising space on the trash receptacle 100.

[0031] The backboard 111 facilitates directing trash into the grocery bag 120. This is a practical feature, but can also add entertainment to using a trash receptacle according to the present invention.

[0032] Another use of a backboard is illustrated in FIG. 2. In this use, the backboard 111 is grasped and pulled toward the user, tipping the trash receptacle 100 and making the opening of the trash bag 120 more accessible. The backboard 111 is optionally provided with a flap 113 or other protrusion to facilitate grasping and tipping. Other protrusions that can be grasped to facilitate tipping include a handle or knob. With the trash receptacle 100 tipped, trash is thrown into the bag 120 and then the trash receptacle 100 is released or tipped back to its starting position. In this context, the term backboard is something of a misnomer in that the trash receptacle 100 will typically be placed so that the back 107 faces the user.

[0033] The backboard 111 provides a convenient or useful place for advertising. An advertisement, such as a logo, can be placed on the inward facing side of the backboard 111, as illustrated in FIG. 1, or on the outward facing side, as illustrated in FIG. 2.

[0034] Another feature of the trash receptacle 100 is its open front. An open front provides the following advantages: keeping a logo 121 on the bag 120 visible to a user over an extended period of time; making the level of trash in the bag 120 more visible to the user; facilitating storage and use of the trash receptacle 100 in under sink cabinets that may contain a disposal and/or waste trap; and facilitating easy removal of the bag 120 from the trash receptacle 100 while the trash receptacle 100 is under a sink. An open front can also function to facilitate display of advertising on the back 107, the sides 103 and 105, and/or on the reservoir panel 109.

[0035] FIG. 3 illustrates the trash receptacle 100 stored in an under sink cabinet 130 with a disposal 131 that descends below the level of the back 107 and the sides 103 and 105. The trash receptacle 100 is shown placed under the sink cabinet 130 with the back 107 facing forward. In this position, the disposal 131, or other obstruction, pushes past the open front and may abut the trash bag 120. Preferably, the open front can be pushed past an obstruction coming to within about 12 inches of the floor of the sink cabinet, more preferably past an obstruction coming to within about 8 inches of the floor, still more preferably past an obstruction coming to within about 4 inches of the floor. While in the sink cabinet 130, the trash receptacle 100 is conveniently used by tipping it forward as illustrated in FIG. 2.

[0036] The open front also facilitates storage and use of the trash receptacle 100 under a sink cabinet with the trash receptacle 100's front facing forward. Because of the open front, the trash bag 120 can be removed from the trash receptacle 100 without awkwardly maneuvering the trash receptacle 100 around any under sink obstructions or squeezing the trash bag 120 through a narrow space. In this position, the open front also facilitated disposing of trash in the bag 120.

[0037] Many of the benefits of the open front can be realized by a partially open front. For purposes of this disclosure, a partially open front is defined as a front with an average height over a majority of the front's breadth that is at least about 4 inches less than the average height of the sides, more preferably at least about 6 inches less, and still more preferably at least about 8 inches less.

[0038] An additional feature of the trash receptacle 100 is the reservoir panel 109. The reservoir panel 109 encloses the bottom of the trash receptacle 100 and catches waste spilled from the trash bag 120. Preferably, the reservoir depth is from about ½ to about 4 inches, more preferably from about 1 to about 2 inches. An open front facilitates cleaning of the reservoir panel 109. The reservoir panel 109 reinforcing the base and extends the life of the trash receptacle 100. In one embodiment, the reservoir panel 109 is made thicker than the other panels to facilitate this function.

[0039] The trash receptacle 100 can be formed of any suitable material. Depending on the material, the trash receptacle 100 can either be a disposable type or a durable good type. Preferably, a disposable type trash receptacle is biodegradable. In one embodiment, the trash receptacle 100 is disposable and made of corrugated cardboard, which is biodegradable. In another embodiment, the trash receptacle 100 is durable and made of plastic. A plastic trash receptacle is preferably formed by injection molding and provides the advantage of easy cleaning.

[0040] FIG. 4 illustrates the layout for a cardboard trash receptacle 200 according to another embodiment of the invention. Fold lines 201, 203, and 205 separate back panel 207 from side panels 209 and 211 and reservoir panel 213. The back panel 207 optionally include punch-out handle 215. Handle slots 217 are formed in side panels 209 and 211. A logo 219 can be formed on the upper portion of the back panel 207, which serves as a backboard.

[0041] The cardboard trash receptacle 200 can be folded into the compact shape shown in FIG. 5 for shipping. Fold lines 201 and 203 can diverge as they extend from fold line 205, making the top of the trash receptacle 200 wider than the bottom to allow stacking of trash receptacles 200 after assembly. Stackability eases transportation and conserves storage and display space. Stackability is preferred in all embodiments of the present invention, particularly those made of rigid materials such as plastic. Optionally, glue can be applied to the receptacle 200 prior to shipping. The glue can be cover by strips that are removed to expose the glue at the time the receptacle 200 is assembled.

[0042] FIG. 6 illustrates a cardboard trash receptacle 300 according to a further embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 7 is a layout for the trash receptacle 300. The trash receptacle 300 has a partial front 301 that provides structural strength, decorative possibilities, and additional advertising space while also leaving the trash receptacle 300 with a partially open front and the concomitant benefits.

[0043] FIG. 8 illustrates a cardboard trash receptacle 400 according to a still further embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 9 is a layout for the trash receptacle 400. The trash receptacle 400 has a base 401 that is reinforced by several panels, including panels 403, 405, 407, and 409.

[0044] FIG. 10 illustrates a cardboard trash receptacle 500 according to a still further embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 11 is a layout for the trash receptacle 500. The trash receptacle 500 has a double layer partial front 501 that can be attached to sides 503 and 505 to provide improve structural strength.

[0045] Preferably, trash receptacles of the present invention include an advertisement. An advertisement can be a message or a company logo. Advertising can be placed in any suitable location on the trash receptacle. The backboard of the trash receptacle, where provided, is the preferred location for advertising. Advertisements can be formed on the trash receptacles by any suitable means. Printing is preferred for cardboard trash receptacles and pressure sensitive labels are preferred for plastic trash receptacles.

[0046] Another aspect of the present invention relates to marketing. According to the present invention, a trash receptacle adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners is offered as either an advertising specialty or as a marketing premium. The present invention recognizes that the popularity of grocery bag-holding trash receptacles is likely to depend on having retailers use them as advertising media and methods of building good will, as opposed to treating them like other goods with any advertising function being merely incidental.

[0047] An advertising specialty, as defined for purposes of this application, is an item bearing the advertiser's message and given to a group of people without any cost or specific purchase obligation. For example, patronizing a store is not considered a specific purchase obligation and the plastic grocery bags given to customers are an advertising specialty. According to the present invention, trash receptacles bearing a logo or other advertisement are given to select groups of people, such as store customers, free of charge.

[0048] Used as an advertising specialty, trash receptacles of the present invention offer a variety of benefits. They act as mini-billboards, keeping the advertiser's name or message in front of the consumer over an extended period of time. This function is further enhanced by offering the trash receptacles in decorative or eye catching designs that encourage users to keep the trash receptacles in public locations. They also build goodwill by associating the advertiser with conservation, efficiency, and utility.

[0049] A marketing premium, as defined for purposes of this application, is an item that is sold to people or given on the satisfaction of some specific purchase obligation. When the trash receptacles are used as a marketing premium that bears the advertiser's message, they provide many of the same benefits as an advertising specialty.

[0050] In one embodiment of the present invention, trash receptacles are used as a marketing premium in a continuity promotion. A continuity promotion involves a series of items that can be collected as a set. In the present invention, customers are offered a series of collectible trash receptacles that are adapted to use plastic grocery bags as liners.

[0051] A series of collectible trash receptacles generally follow a theme. Examples of themes include holiday patterns, e.g., Saint Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Christmas, seasonal patterns, e.g., Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and manufacturer oriented patterns, e.g., featuring Proctor & Gamble products such as toothpaste, soap, and cereals.

[0052] A continuity promotion, using trash receptacles of the present invention as the marketing premium, can be either a profit-building type or a traffic-building type. As a profit-building type, sales of the trash receptacles themselves generate a significant profit. As a traffic-building type, the trash receptacles are sold at a low or subsidized price to encourage consumers to continue patronizing certain retailers.

[0053] Although the invention has been shown and described with respect to certain embodiments, alterations and modifications providing equivalent structures and acts are likely to occur to those of ordinary skill in the art upon the reading and understanding this specification and the associated drawings. Such alterations and modifications are intended to fall within the scope of the present invention, unless expressly stated to the contrary. Components described in functional terms have structure and involve acts, unless otherwise indicated, corresponding to any of the devices and methods known to those of ordinary skill in the art to perform those functions, even though not equivalent to any of the structures and acts that perform those function in the exemplary embodiments of the invention. In addition, while a particular feature of the invention may have been disclosed with respect to only one of several embodiments, such feature may be combined with one or more other features of the other embodiments as may be desired or advantageous for a given or particular application.