Title:
Dispensing and disposal container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disposable, non-refillable container for holding, dispensing and disposing of articles is disclosed. The container has an interior space that includes dispensing space, from which articles may be dispensed, and a waste receptacle space, into which articles may be disposed. The container is non-permanently affixed to a surface with a mount. A method for using such a container is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Mitchell, Joseph (Alpharetta, GA, US)
Welchel, Debra N. (Woodstock, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/213243
Publication Date:
03/01/2007
Filing Date:
08/26/2005
Assignee:
Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20090114668Device For Storing And Dispensing Sheet MaterialsMay, 2009Fiola
20080110920System for Packaging Rolls of Wet Wipes in a Soft Sided ContainerMay, 2008Hlista et al.
20070170202Emergency medical pill dispenserJuly, 2007Chen et al.
20090277922DISPENSER FOR DISPOSABLE ITEMSNovember, 2009Lifschitz
20060273107Folded product dispenserDecember, 2006Keberlein
20050161464Holder for flaccid flat articles such as napkinsJuly, 2005Fiola
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Primary Examiner:
KUMAR, RAKESH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC. (Neenah, WI, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A disposable, non-refillable container for dispensing and disposing of articles, comprising: a plurality of panels that cooperate to enclose an interior space, where the interior space has a dispensing space which may contain a stack of articles and a waste receptacle space; a dispensing opening in at least one panel through which articles may be dispensed from the dispensing space; a waste receptacle opening in at least one panel through which the articles may be disposed of in the waste receptacle space; and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface.

2. The container of claim 1, where the dispensing space has a dispensing volume and the waste receptacle space has a waste receptacle volume, and where the waste receptacle volume is greater than the dispensing volume.

3. The container of claim 2, where the waste receptacle volume is about 1.5 to about 3 times greater than the dispensing volume.

4. The container of claim 1, further comprising a partition within the interior space that separates the dispensing space from the waste receptacle space.

5. The container of claim 4, where the partition is an interior panel.

6. The container of claim 5, where the partition is affixed to an interior surface of at least one panel of the container.

7. The container of claim 5, where the partition may freely move within the interior space of the container.

8. The container of claim 4, where the partition is a flexible material.

9. The container of claim 8, where the partition is a flexible package encasing the stack of articles and having a package opening that is proximate to, and cooperates with, the dispensing opening to dispense the articles.

10. The container of claim 1, where the waste receptacle opening comprises a moveable waste chute within at least a portion of one panel.

11. The container of claim 10, where the waste chute further comprises a closing tab which can engage the container when the waste chute and container are in a closed configuration.

12. The container of claim 1, further comprising a removable portion defined by a line of weakness in at least one panel, where the receptacle opening is formed by the removal of the removable portion.

13. The container of claim 1, further comprising a removable portion defined by a line of weakness in at least one panel, where the dispensing opening is formed by the removal of the removable portion.

14. The container of claim 1, where the waste receptacle opening comprises at least a portion of two adjoining panels.

15. The container of claim 1, where the dispensing opening comprises at least a portion of two adjoining panels.

16. The container of claim 1, further comprising an outer shell and an inner shell, where the outer and inner shells are telescopically engaged such that the inner shell may slide within the outer shell.

17. The container of claim 16, where the inner shell contains the dispensing space.

18. The container of claim 16, further comprising a stop which prevents the inner shell from being removed from the outer shell when the inner shell is telescopically extended from the outer shell.

19. The container of claim 1, where the plurality of panels that enclose the waste receptacle space have a moisture-resistant or moisture-impermeable treatment.

20. The container of claim 1, further comprising instruction indicia providing instruction as to use of the container.

21. A system for holding, dispensing and disposing of articles comprising: a stack of articles; a container having a plurality of panels which cooperate to enclose an interior space in which the stack of articles is held, and where the container has a dispensing opening through which the articles are dispensed from the interior space and a waste receptacle opening into which the used articles may be disposed of in the interior space of the container; a partition in the interior space which separates the undispensed stack of articles from the disposed, used articles; and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface.

22. The system of claim 21, where the partition is affixed to an interior surface of at least one panel of the container.

23. The system of claim 21, where the partition is a flexible material.

24. The system of claim 21, where the waste receptacle opening comprises a moveable waste chute within at least a portion of one panel of the container.

25. The system of claim 21, further comprising instruction indicia indicating how to dispense and dispose of the articles.

26. The system of claim 21, further comprising instruction indicia indicating how to dispose of the container.

27. A method of providing a disposable, non-refillable container for dispensing and disposal of articles, comprising the steps: a) providing a disposable, non-refillable container having a plurality of panels that cooperate to enclose an interior space, where the interior space has a dispensing space containing a stack of articles and a waste receptacle space; a dispensing opening in at least one panel through which articles may be dispensed from the dispensing space; a waste receptacle opening in at least one panel through which the articles may be disposed of in the waste receptacle space; and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface; b) affixing the container to a support surface; c) dispensing the articles; d) removing the container from the support surface after the articles have been dispensed from the container; and e) disposing of the container.

28. The method of claim 27, where the container further comprises a waste chute comprising a portion of at least one panel and pivotally associated with said panel; where the waste chute has a closed configuration relative to the container where said portion is within the same plane as said panel and has an open configuration relative to the container where the portion pivotally extends out of the plane of said panel to a substantially cantilevered position; and where the open configuration of the waste chute forms the waste receptacle opening; and where the method further comprises the steps of pulling the waste chute to the open configuration prior to dispensing the articles, and returning the waste chute to the closed configuration after the articles have been dispensed.

29. The method of claim 27, where the container further comprises an outer shell and an inner shell, where the outer and inner shells are telescopically engaged such that the inner shell may slide within the outer shell, and where the outer shell contains the dispensing space; and where the method further comprises the steps of telescopically extending the inner shell from the outer shell prior to dispensing the articles, and telescopically compacting the inner shell into the outer shell after the dispensing the articles.

30. A method of providing a system for holding, dispensing and disposing of articles to a consumer, comprising the steps: providing a disposable, non-refillable container having a plurality of panels that cooperate to enclose an interior space, where the interior space has a dispensing space containing a stack of articles and a waste receptacle space; a dispensing opening in at least one panel through which articles may be dispensed from the dispensing space; a waste receptacle opening in at least one panel through which the articles may be disposed of in the waste receptacle space; and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface; and providing the consumer with instructions regarding the use of the container.

31. The method of claim 30, where the container further comprises a waste chute comprising a portion of at least one panel and pivotally associated with said panel; where the waste chute has a closed configuration relative to the container where said portion is within the same plane as said panel and has an open configuration relative to the container where the portion pivotally extends out of the plane of said panel to a substantially cantilevered position; and where the open configuration of the waste chute forms the waste receptacle opening; and where the method further comprises the step of providing instructions regarding pulling the waste chute into an open configuration prior to dispensing the articles and returning the waste chute to a closed configuration after the articles are dispensed and prior to disposal of the container.

32. The method of claim 30, where the container further comprises an outer shell and an inner shell, where the outer and inner shells are telescopically engaged such that the inner shell may slide within the outer shell, and where the outer shell contains the dispensing space; and where the method further comprises the step of providing instructions regarding telescopically extending the inner shell from the outer shell prior to dispensing the articles and telescopically compacting the inner shell into the outer shell after the dispensing the articles.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Various types of dispensers and dispensing containers have been developed to provide ready availability of articles to users. Such dispensers are common for dispensing paper products such as facial tissues, napkins, paper towels and the like. Such dispensers are often provided in public places such as restaurants or rest rooms where customers remove from the dispenser a desired amount of paper products for personal use.

One drawback of such dispensers is that they require maintenance and refilling on a regular basis. The attendant usually must open up the dispenser and refill the dispenser and perform any routine maintenance that is required. The dispenser itself must be cleaned and the waste receptacles must be emptied by the attendant. In emptying the waste receptacles, the attendant is exposed to the contaminated and often unpleasant waste products.

Another issue with dispensers of all types is that they are usually found in fixed locations. For example, the towel dispensers in a public restroom are generally fixed to the wall. A person who is looking to provide such paper products has to generally install a dispenser, but is then stuck with the location of that dispenser. It is difficult for those who want to provide products in a temporary location, or who wish to frequently change the dispenser location, to do so with traditional mounted dispensers. Additionally, where there is a fixed dispenser there is often a fixed waste receptacle. Such a fixed waste receptacle presents the same type of fixed location concerns as with the fixed dispenser.

One particular problem based on the fixed location of dispensers and waste receptacles concerns the use of paper hand towels or tissues to open a restroom door. Doors and door handles are of particular concern because they are frequently used by many different people and can unintentionally become a depository and exchange point for germs, bacteria and viruses. Many people have commonly used a paper hand towel to open the door when exiting a restroom for these very reasons.

Such facilities often do not have a dispenser or waste receptacle in close proximity to such doors. Generally a person will either have to remember to take a towel with them to the door or will fail to remember to take a towel and will open the door with their naked hand. The person that uses a towel to open the door will then often find that there is no waste receptacle in proximity to the door they have just opened and will have to carry the towel with them until they can reach a place where the towel can be properly disposed. Often, rather than properly disposing such towels used to open the door, people will leave the paper towel on the floor behind the door, in the corner near the door, or will have missed the receptacle as they have tossed the towel toward the receptacle through the closing door. Such trash on the floor is unsanitary, unsightly, and unsafe.

Additionally, there are generally no such towel/tissue dispensers for sanitary door handling in proximity to other doors within a facility (e.g., entrance and exit doors, interior hallway doors, office doorways, and the like).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In light of the problems and issues discussed above, it is desired to have a dispensing container that is disposable and non-refillable and that can be located in any location that the one providing such a container and/or the user of such a container finds appropriate.

The present invention is directed to a disposable, non-refillable container for dispensing and disposing of articles. The container includes a plurality of panels that cooperate to enclose an interior space. The interior space has a dispensing space which may contain a stack of folded articles and a waste receptacle space. The container has a dispensing opening in at least one panel through which articles may be dispensed from the dispensing space and a waste receptacle opening in at least one panel through which the articles may be disposed of in the waste receptacle space. Finally, the container has a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface.

In particular embodiments of the invention, the volume of the waste receptacle space is greater than the volume of the dispensing space of the container. In more particular embodiments, the volume of the waste receptacle space is about 1.5 to about 3 times greater than the volume of the dispensing space.

In some embodiments, the container has a partition within the interior space that separates the dispensing space from the waste receptacle space. Such a partition may be an interior panel. In some embodiments, the interior panel is affixed to an interior surface of at least one panel of the container. Alternatively, the partition may freely move within the interior space of the container. In other embodiments, the partition is a flexible material. Such a flexible material may be a flexible package encasing the stack of articles and having a package opening that is proximate to, and cooperates with, the dispensing opening to dispense the articles.

In some embodiments, the waste receptacle opening may be formed from a moveable waste chute within at least a portion of one panel of the container. In a further embodiment the waste chute may have a closing tab which can engage the container when the waste chute and container are in a closed configuration.

In various embodiments, the waste receptacle opening may be formed by the removal of the removable portion defined by a line of weakness in at least one panel. Likewise, in various embodiments, the dispensing opening may be formed by the removal of the removable portion defined by a line of weakness in at least one panel.

In some embodiments, the waste receptacle opening may include a portion of two adjoining panels. Likewise, in some embodiments, the dispensing opening may include a portion of two adjoining panels.

In one embodiment, the container has an outer shell and an inner shell, where the outer and inner shells are telescopically engaged such that the inner shell may slide within the outer shell. In a further embodiment, the outer shell contains the dispensing space. The container may also have a stop which prevents the inner shell from being removed from the outer shell when the inner shell is telescopically extended from the outer shell.

In some embodiments the panels that enclose the waste receptacle space may have a moisture-resistant or moisture-impermeable treatment. In other embodiments, the container may have instruction indicia providing instruction as to the proper use of the container.

The present invention is also directed to a system for holding, dispensing and disposing of articles. The system is made up of a stack of articles; a container having a plurality of panels which cooperate to enclose an interior space in which the stack of articles is held, and a dispensing opening through which the articles are dispensed from the interior space and a waste receptacle opening into which the used articles may be disposed; a partition in the interior space which separates the undispensed stack of articles from the disposed, used articles; and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface.

In further embodiments, the system may include instruction indicia indicating how to dispense and dispose of the articles. In other embodiments the system may include instruction indicia indicating how to dispose of the container.

The invention is also directed to a method of providing a disposable, non-refillable container for dispensing and disposal of articles. The method includes the steps of providing a disposable, non-refillable container; affixing the container to a support surface; dispensing the articles; removing the container from the support surface after the articles have been dispensed from the container; and disposing of the container. The container of the method has a plurality of panels that cooperate to enclose an interior space, where the interior space has a dispensing space containing a stack of articles and a waste receptacle space; a dispensing opening in at least one panel through which articles may be dispensed from the dispensing space; a waste receptacle opening in at least one panel through which the articles may be disposed of in the waste receptacle space; and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface.

In some embodiments, the container may further have a waste chute made from a portion of at least one panel and pivotally associated with said panel and the method may have the further steps of pulling the waste chute to the open configuration prior to dispensing the articles, and returning the waste chute to the closed configuration after the articles have been dispensed.

In other embodiments, the container may further have an outer shell and an inner shell, such that the inner shell may slide within the outer shell and the method may have the further steps of telescopically extending the inner shell from the outer shell prior to dispensing the articles, and telescopically compacting the inner shell into the outer shell after the dispensing the articles.

The invention is also directed to a method of providing a system for holding, dispensing and disposing of articles to a consumer. The method having the steps of providing a disposable, non-refillable container having a plurality of panels that cooperate to enclose an interior space, where the interior space has a dispensing space containing a stack of articles and a waste receptacle space; a dispensing opening in at least one panel through which articles may be dispensed from the dispensing space; a waste receptacle opening in at least one panel through which the articles may be disposed; and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface; and providing instructions regarding the operation of the container.

In some embodiments, the container may have a waste chute made of a portion of at least one panel, where the method further includes the step of providing instructions regarding pulling the waste chute into an open configuration prior to dispensing the articles and returning the waste chute to a closed configuration after the articles are dispensed and prior to disposal of the container.

In other embodiments, the container may have an outer shell and an inner shell, telescopically engaged such that the inner shell may slide within the outer shell, where the method further comprises the step of providing instructions regarding telescopically extending the inner shell from the outer shell prior to dispensing the articles and telescopically compacting the inner shell into the outer shell after the dispensing the articles.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the container of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a side cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a side cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8A is a back view of an embodiment of the container of the present invention with a mounting means.

FIG. 8B is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 8A attached to a substantially vertical support surface.

FIG. 9A is a back view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention with a mounting means.

FIG. 9B is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 9A attached to a substantially vertical support surface.

FIG. 10A is a back view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention with a mounting means.

FIG. 10B is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 10A attached to a substantially vertical support surface.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is a disposable, non-refillable container capable of both dispensing and disposing of articles. The articles dispensed by the container of the invention are any articles capable of being dispensed. Such articles may include, but are not limited to, facial tissue, toilet tissue, napkins, wipers, towels, and the like. Such articles may be simply piled into a stack, individually folded and stacked on top of each other, or may be interfolded such that the folds of each individual folded article partially overlaps the folds of the folded article that is adjacent in the stack.

The container of the present invention is intended to be a disposable, non-refillable dispenser of articles. The articles are loaded into the container during manufacture and delivered to the consumer as a single dispensing system. As used herein “disposable” refers to the characteristic of the container that it is used up (i.e., not reusable) once the articles contained therein are dispensed from the container and subsequently disposed of therein. Similarly, as used herein, “non-refillable” refers to the characteristic of the container that it is not designed for receiving additional articles after the original articles of the container have been dispensed. Additionally, as used herein, “consumer” generally refers to those persons responsible for providing such articles and containers to end users; this may include facilities management, custodial staff, or the like. Finally, as used herein, “end user” or “user” generally refers to those persons that self-dispense the articles from the container of the present invention.

The consumer may use the dispenser on any support surface they desire and dispose of the entire container when the articles have been dispensed; consumers need only replace the fully-dispensed container with a new container rather than refill the empty container. This reduces the amount of costly attention and maintenance the consumer has to give the container and prevents problems with container overstuffing. The inclusion of a waste receptacle in the container ensures that a receptacle is available for any article dispensed from the container and may eliminate the need for a separate waste receptacle. This type of container would also reduce the amount of clean-up that is required by custodial staff, thereby further reducing costs. Additionally, the custodial staff that disposes of a depleted container and replaces it with a new container does not have to handle a separate waste receptacle; the custodial staff can avoid contact with soiled articles by not having to empty a traditionally installed waste receptacle.

The disposable nature of the container also decreases the need for, and the associated costs with, regular cleaning and/or sanitizing of the container, as is necessary for installed dispensers. Such a disposable container also would eliminate the issue of dispenser malfunction or failure, along with removing the need for regular maintenance and repair, as generally required for traditionally installed dispensers.

The disposable container of the present invention is intended for use wherever the consumer wishes to dispense the articles of the container; the user is not limited to dispensing locations where traditional dispensers have been installed (e.g., in or on a wall in a public restroom). As such, the container of the present invention can be used to dispense articles in areas that such articles have not been able to be dispensed conveniently. The container of the present invention allows the consumer to easily place such containers in locations that may be temporary (i.e., only for a short or limited time) or may be seasonal. For example, such a container could be located on or near any frequently used door during the cold and influenza season (i.e., generally the months of November through March); such a container could dispense tissues to use while handling such a door and thus help reduce the person-to-person transmission of viruses and germs.

The container may be made of any material that can contain and dispense the articles of the present invention. Preferably, the container may be made of heavy paper, cardboard or plastic, but it may be made of any other suitable material within the scope of the invention.

The containers of the present invention are made up of a plurality of panels that cooperate to enclose an interior space in which the articles are contained, from which the articles are dispensed, and in which used articles may be disposed. An embodiment of the container of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The container 10 is illustrated as generally polygonally-shaped and having six distinct panels, however, it is contemplated that the containers of the present invention may be more complex in shape and design, or may have a greater number of panels than illustrated. Regardless of the number of panels that comprise the container, the panels work together toward the common result of enclosing, or surrounding, an interior space 29 from which articles may be dispensed from and into which articles may be disposed.

The container 10 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 has a front panel 15, an upper panel 16, a lower panel 14 opposite the upper panel 16, side panels 17, and a back panel 18 opposite the front panel 15. It should be understood that the terms “front”, “back”, “upper”, “lower”, and “side” are used only to describe the relative positions of each panel. All the panels 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 cooperate to provide the generally polygonally-shaped container 10 with an interior space 29 configured to hold a stack of articles and contain the disposed articles 19. Additionally, each panel has an exterior surface which faces outward and is exposed to the external environment in which the container 10 is placed. The panels also have an interior surface which faces and bounds the interior space 29 of the container 10.

The interior space 29 of the container 10 is divided, in part, into a dispensing space 22 and a waste receptacle space 24. The dispensing space 22 of the container 10 is the portion of the interior space 29 in which the undispensed articles are contained and from which the articles are dispensed. As shown in FIG. 2, a stack of articles 13 is held in the dispensing space 22. The articles 12 are then dispensed from the dispensing space 22 through a dispensing opening 21.

The dispensing opening 21 is an opening in at least one of the panels of the container 10 and provides the user access to the articles 12 stored within the dispensing space 22. The dispensing opening 21 is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 as present in the lower panel 14 of the container and is illustrated as substantially rectangular in shape. Alternatively, the dispensing opening 21 may be present on other panels of the container 10 depending on the placement of the dispensing space 22 within the interior space 29 of the container 10 and preference as to the overall design of the container 10. For example, the dispensing space 22 may be in the lower portions of the interior space 29 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, but the dispensing opening 21 may be present on the front panel 15, may be on one of the side panels 17, or multiple dispensing openings 21 may be present, one on each of the side panels 17 and/or the front panel 15.

The dispensing opening 21 may be present solely in one panel, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, or may extend across two or more adjoining panels. For example, the dispensing opening 21 may encompass portions of the front panel 15 and the lower panel 14 by extending across the corner formed where the lower edge of the front panel 15 meets the front edge of the lower panel 14. Alternatively, the dispensing opening 21 may extend across more than two panels. For example, the dispensing opening 21 may contain portions of two opposite facing side panels 17, the front panel 15 and the lower panel 14 by extending across the entire edge formed where the lower edge of the front panel 15 meets the front edge of the lower panel 14 and the corners formed where the side panel 17 meets both the front panel 15 and lower panel 14.

The shape of the dispensing opening 21 may be any shape and size as to regularly dispense the articles 12 of the container. Although the dispensing opening 21 is shown in FIG. 1 to be generally rectangular in shape, it may be any closed-loop shape that allows for regular dispensing of the articles 12. Additionally, as shown in FIG. 6, the dispensing opening 21 may be formed by the removal of a removable portion 64 of a panel defined by a line of weakness 65, or it may be present on the container 10 as it is delivered to the consumer. The line of weakness 65 may be perforations, scoring or other similar method of providing weakness in the material of the panel. Generally speaking, removable portion 64 may either be removed or simply not formed in the container panels during manufacture of the container 10. If the removable portion 64 is to be removed (or simply not formed) as part of the manufacturing process, the container 10 may be shipped to the consumer wrapped, for example in a polyethylene bag, to prevent contamination and/or to preserve the sterility of the articles in the container 10.

Additionally, the dispensing opening 21 may include a finger slot 25, as shown in FIG. 1, or may include a thumb slot 31 (see FIG. 3) to provide the user with increased ease of access to the stack of articles 13 within the dispensing space 22. Such a finger slot 25 or thumb slot 31 may be within the same panel as the majority of the dispensing opening 21 (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) or may be a part of a panel adjoining the panel which contains the majority of the dispensing opening 21 (see FIG. 5).

The waste receptacle space 24 of the container 10 is the portion of the interior space 29 in which the used, dispensed articles may be disposed and collected. As shown in FIG. 2, the disposed, used articles 19, or any other waste or debris, is deposited and held in the waste receptacle space 24 and is disposed along with the container 10 after all of the articles 12 have been dispensed from the dispensing space 22.

The waste receptacle opening 23 is an opening in at least one of the panels of the container 10 and provides the user access to the waste receptacle space 24 to deposit a used article or other waste they wish to dispose. The waste receptacle opening 23 is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 as present in a portion of both the front panel 15 and the upper panel 16 of the container and is illustrated as substantially rectangular in shape. Alternatively, the waste receptacle opening 23 may be present on other panels of the container 10 depending on the placement of the waste receptacle space 24 within the interior space 29 of the container 10 and preference as to the overall design of the container 10.

The waste receptacle opening 23 may be present in only one panel or may extend across two or more adjoining panels, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Instead of extending across two adjoining panels, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the waste receptacle opening 23 may be an opening in the front panel 15 that allows access to the waste receptacle space 24. Alternatively, the waste receptacle opening 23 may extend across more than two panels. For example, the waste receptacle opening 23 may contain portions of two opposite facing side panels 17, the front panel 15 and the upper panel 16 by extending across the entire edge formed where the upper edge of the front panel 15 meets the front edge of the upper panel 16 and the corners formed by where the side panel 17 meets both the front panel 15 and upper panel 16.

Although the waste receptacle opening 23 is shown in FIG. 1 to be generally rectangular in shape, it may be any shape (regular or irregular; symmetrical or asymmetrical) and size that allows for regular disposing of the used articles 19. Generally, the waste receptacle opening 23 will need to be larger than the dispensing opening 21 to accommodate the size of the used articles 19 and allow the user to dispose of the used articles 19 with minimal contact with the container 10.

Additionally, as shown in FIG. 6, the waste receptacle opening 23 may be formed by the removal of a removable portion 66 of a panel defined by a line of weakness 67, or it may be present on the container 10 as it is delivered to the user. The line of weakness 67 may be perforations, scoring or other similar method of providing weakness in the material of the panel. Generally speaking, the removable portion 66 may either be removed or simply not formed in the container panels during manufacture of the container 10.

As some of the disposed, used articles 19 or other waste may be wet, have an odor, and/or may be harboring transmittable germs, bacteria and/or viruses, it may be desired to provide the interior surfaces of the waste receptacle space 24 with additional functionality. The interior surfaces of the waste receptacle space 24 may be coated with a moisture-resistant or moisture-impermeable treatment. This treatment may include the use of a moisture-impermeable film lining, a plastic bag, a wax coating, or the like. The waste receptacle space 24 may include odor-neutralizing or odor-masking agents. Finally, the waste receptacle space 24 may include treatments that neutralizes or destroys germs, viruses and/or bacteria that the space is exposed to and with which it comes in contact.

The dispensing space 22 and the waste receptacle space 24 are separated from each other by a partition 27. The partition 27 sets the spaces apart to keep them substantially distinct from each other. The partition 27 may be an internal panel that is affixed to the interior surface of one or more panels of the container 10. For example, the partition 27 may be made of the same material as the panels of the container 10 and attached to the interior surfaces of the panels of the container 10 to form an interior wall that separates the dispensing space 22 from the waste receptacle space 24.

Alternatively, the partition 27 may be an internal panel that is slightly smaller in area than the inside perimeter of the container 10 such that the partition 27 would be moveable within the interior space 29. Such and interior panel may be made of the same material as the panels of the container 10 or may be made of a different material than can substantially separate the undispensed articles 13 from the used articles 19. If used in the embodiment of FIG. 2, such a partition 27 would thus be able to descend as the stack of articles 13 is depleted and waste receptacle space 24 is filled; as the articles 12 are depleted the dispensing space 22 would decrease while the waste receptacle space 24 would increase.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, the partition is a flexible partition 47. Such a flexible partition 47 may be made of a flexible film, bag, or any other flexible material that is affixed to one or more interior surfaces of the container 10 to separate the dispensing space 22 from the waste receptacle space 24. The flexible partition 47 would insulate a stack of undispensed articles 13 from water, germs, debris and other such things that may be contained within the disposed articles 19 that occupy the waste receptacle space 24. The flexible partition 47 would be moveable in that it would collapse with the dispensing of the articles 12. Again, as the articles 12 are depleted the dispensing space 22 would decrease while the waste receptacle space 24 would increase.

In a similar embodiment, the flexible partition may be the flexible packaging 77 encasing a stack of articles 13 (see FIG. 7). Such flexible packaging 77 is often used to completely enclose a stack of folded articles such as tissues, paper towels or wipers. The opening of such flexible packaging 77 would be placed proximate to, and aligned with, the dispensing opening 21 such that the flexible packaging 77 and dispensing opening 21 cooperate so that the articles 12 within the dispensing space 22 of the interior of the flexible packaging 77 may be accessed and removed through the dispensing opening 21. The flexible packaging 77 may further cooperate with the dispensing opening 21 by attaching to the interior surfaces of the container 10 around the periphery of the dispensing opening 21.

The embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 4 all illustrate containers 10 with configurations where the dispensing space 22 is below the waste receptacle space 24 and the corresponding waste receptacle opening 23 is above the dispensing opening 21. This is the preferred configuration for those containers 10 using a moveable or flexible partition. In such embodiments, the partition can then descend, under gravity and the weight of the used articles 19 with each article 12 that is dispensed. However, it is also contemplated that the container 10 may be configured such that the waste receptacle opening and space 21, 23 are located below the dispensing opening and space 22, 24, as shown in FIG. 5. It is also contemplated that the container 10 may be configured to have multiple waste receptacle spaces 24 and multiple dispensing spaces 22 arranged to the preference and needs of the consumers and users.

The articles 12 that are dispensed by the container 10 of the present invention are generally efficiently sized when part of a stack of such articles 13. In a flat or folded configuration when dispensed, the articles 12 take up a minimal amount of space. However, after such articles are dispensed and used, they take up more space when disposed. Typically, after an article 12 such as a paper towel is used, the user will crumple the used article 19 into a shape that will not pack into a space as efficiently as when that same article 12 was a part of its original stack of articles 13. Thus, the space needed for the disposal of used articles 19, will be greater than the space that was required to dispense such articles 12. In the embodiments of the present invention, it is desired that the waste receptacle space 24 be larger than the dispensing space 22, prior to dispensing any articles 12.

The interior space 29 of the container 10 will have an interior volume that is defined by the plurality of panels that make up the container 10. As discussed, the interior space 29 has a dispensing space 22 and a waste receptacle space 24 that are separated by a partition 27, 47, 77. The dispensing space 22 will have a dispensing volume that is defined as the volume of the portion of the interior space 29 in which the stack of undispensed articles 13 are held and dispensed from. The waste receptacle space 24 will have a waste receptacle volume that is defined as the volume of the portion of the interior space 29 in which the used articles 19 may be disposed. The relative volumes of both the dispensing volume and the waste receptacle volume are defined by the plurality of panels that make up the container and the partition 27, 47, 77 that separate the dispensing space 22 and the waste receptacle space 24.

To accommodate the increased volume that a used article 19 has compared to that same article prior to it being dispensed. It is desired that the waste receptacle volume be greater than the dispensing volume. The waste receptacle volume may be up to five times greater than the dispensing volume, prior to any of the articles being dispensed from the container. It is preferred that the waste receptacle volume be 1.5 to 3 times larger than the dispensing volume, prior to any articles being dispensed from the container.

To provide a container 10, such as in FIG. 1, with a waste receptacle volume greater than dispensing volume, the container 10 must be constructed with more empty space than space that is taken up by a stack of articles 13. While a larger waste receptacle space 24 accommodates a greater volume of waste that may be contained, it also results in a container 10 that has to be shipped and stored having a large portion of its volume comprised mostly of air. Thus, a balance needs to be met in providing a container 10 with effective and efficient volumes of waste receptacle and dispensing space.

One embodiment that works at striking a balance for efficient use of container space incorporates a waste chute 33, as shown in FIG. 3. The waste chute 33 is integrated part of the container 10 that is “moveable” in that its position, or location, is capable of being changed in a way that increases the waste receptacle volume. As shown in FIG. 3, the waste chute 33 may incorporate a portion of the front panel 15 that may be pulled out of the plane of the front panel 15 to form a waste receptacle opening 23 with access to the waste receptacle space 24. The waste chute 33 illustrated in FIG. 3 is shown to tilt out of the plane of the front panel 15, but the waste chute 33 could alternatively be more like a drawer that is pulled out of the plane of the front panel 15 or other configurations in which a portion of the container may be moved in such a way to increase the waste receptacle volume.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, the waste chute 33 is an integral part of the front panel 15. The waste chute 33 is pivotally associated with the container 10 along a pivot fold 39 such that the chute 33 may be pivotally extended out from the container 10 into an open configuration, relative to the container 10, and returned to its original closed configuration, relative to the container 10. The “closed configuration” of the container 10 is the relative arrangement of the waste chute 33 and container 10 where the waste chute 33 is in such position to substantially prevent access to the waste receptacle space 24. The waste chute 33 in a closed configuration will substantially close off access to the waste receptacle opening 23. The front face of the waste chute 33 will be substantially in the same plane as the front panel 15 when in the closed configuration.

The chute 33 of FIG. 3 is shown as part of front panel 15 and having chute side panels 35. The chute side panels 35 help ensure that the used articles 19 are contained within the waste receptacle space 24 of the container 10. The chute side panels 35 may be formed from portions of the side panels 17 that are separable from the rest of the side panel 17 or they may be separate portions of material that have been attached to the front face of the chute 33. In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 5, the chute side panels 35 may be an accordion-folded panel 55 that compresses when the chute 33 is in a closed configuration and extends when the chute 33 is in an open configuration, rather than a panel that slides out from the container 10, as in FIG. 3.

Additionally, the chute side panels 35 may include chute stops 45 which prevent the chute 33 from pulling out of the container 10 by arresting the pivotal extension of the chute by coming to rest against the inner surface of the front panel 15 when the chute 33 is pivotally pulled into an open configuration.

The container 10 is prepared to receive used articles 19, by pulling the waste chute 33 into the open configuration. By pulling out the top edge 34 of the chute 33, the chute 33 will pivot along the pivot fold 39 to extend the chute out from the body of the container 10. In the open configuration the waste chute 33 is in a substantially cantilevered position in that the chute 33 is supported at the pivot fold 39 while the top edge 34 of the chute is extended out from the body of the container 10. With the chute 33 in the open configuration the waste receptacle opening 23 is opened and the waste receptacle space 24 becomes accessible.

Alternatively to the waste chute 33 being an integral part of the container, the waste chute 33 may be a separate member that is attached with a hinge along where the pivot fold 39 is present in FIG. 3. Such a chute 33 would operate in the same manner as described above.

The addition of a chute 33 to the container 10 effectively increases the waste receptacle space 24. When in an open configuration, the waste receptacle space 24 is increased by the additional volume supplied by the opened chute 33. This allows for the container 10 to be delivered to the consumer in a closed configuration with a waste receptacle volume that is the same or possibly smaller than the dispensing volume. When the consumer places the container in its desired location and pulls open the waste chute 33 into an open configuration, prior to dispensing the articles, an adequate waste receptacle volume can be achieved.

An additional benefit that may be realized with the use of a waste chute 33 is the capability of compressing the waste materials within the waste receptacle space 24 prior to disposal of the container 10. As discussed earlier, a plurality of used articles 19 will take up a greater amount of volume than the same articles 12 had when stacked together prior to being dispensed. However, such used articles 19 can be compressed together into a smaller volume by closing the waste chute 33 into a closed configuration and thus reducing the waste receptacle volume.

The closing of the waste chute 33 also encloses the used articles 19, keeping them away from the consumer or custodial staff that is disposing the used container 10. The used container 10 can be assisted in maintaining a closed configuration by including a closing tab 37 on the waste chute 33 that can engage a closing slot 38 on the container 10 to keep the waste chute 33 in a closed configuration. The closing tab 37 may instead be located on body of the container with the closing slot 38 on the waste chute 33. Other similar methods could be used to engage the waste chute 33 with the container 10 to keep the container in a closed configuration 10. One skilled in the art would understand how adhesive, tape, buttons, snaps, hook and loop, and other closure means could be used to close the container 10.

Another embodiment that addresses the efficient use of the interior space 39 prior to dispensing the articles is shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. In this embodiment the container 10 is made up of a hollow outer shell 63 and a hollow inner shell 61 that is telescopically engaged with the outer shell 63. As used herein, the term “telescopically engaged” refers to the fact that the inner and outer shells 61, 63 slide past each other similar to a collapsible telescope. With such a design the container 10 can be shipped to the consumer in a telescopically compact configuration with the inner shell 61 fully inside the outer shell 63. When the consumer is ready to mount the container 10 where it is desired to dispense the articles 12, the inner shell 61 is pulled out from the outer shell 63 into a telescopically extended configuration. In the telescopically compact configuration the waste receptacle space 24 may be the same or smaller than the dispensing space 22, but then the waste receptacle space 24 is increased to an adequate volume by pulling the inner shell 61 into a telescopically extended configuration.

To keep the inner shell 61 from being completely removed from the outer shell 63, a pair of inner shell stops 71 and outer shell stops 73 can be located proximate the open ends of the inner and outer shells 61, 63. Such stops 71, 73 can be designed to work together to prevent the shells 61, 63 from being completely pulled apart from each other. One skilled in the art would see that there are other possible designs that could be used on one or both of the shells to prevent the shells from being pulled apart.

Additionally, as with the embodiments of the container 10 with a waste chute 33, the telescopically engaged inner and outer shells 61, 63 also allow for compacting of the used articles 19 within the waste receptacle space 24. Once all the articles 12 have been dispensed, the outer shell 63 may be pressed down on the inner shell 61, thus compressing the waste materials contained within the container 10. Again, this allows for a smaller container 10 to be disposed.

Other containers 10 with different configurations of relative positions of waste receptacle space 24 and dispensing space 22 are contemplated as within the scope of this invention and are a matter of design preference. Additionally, containers 10 having both telescopically engaged inner and outer shells 61, 63 and a waste chute 33 are also contemplated as within the scope of the invention.

The container 10 is additionally designed to non-permanently attach to a support surface. As used here, the term “non-permanently” refers to the characteristic that the container may be quickly attached to a substantially vertical support surface, easily detached, and quickly reattached to the same surface or a different surface, repeatedly, during the limited, single-use life of the container 10.

The non-permanent nature of the attachment of the present container 10 is in contrast to the permanent or semi-permanent nature of traditionally installed dispensers. Traditional dispensers are often bolted, or otherwise secured, to the wall in such a way that relocation of such a dispenser takes time, modification of the wall that one wishes to attach the dispenser, and repair to the wall from which such a dispenser has been removed. Such traditional dispenser are intended to remain where installed for a long period of time (i.e., until the dispenser is non-functional or otherwise needs to be replaced with another traditional dispenser). It is intended that with such permanent or semi-permanent installation a traditional dispenser cannot be removed from the wall without significant effort. The intention of the non-permanent nature of the attachment of the container 10 of the invention is that the container 10 be easily and quickly attached and removed from support surfaces with minimal, if any, damage or alteration to such a surface.

The support surface may be any surface that when a container 10 is affixed to it will allow the articles to be dispensed close to the site the user wishes to use the article. Such a support surface in most cases will be a door or a wall adjacent to a door. However, other non-limiting examples of such a support surface may be a post, a pole, a dispenser affixed to a wall or embedded into a wall, or the like.

The manner in which the container 10 is affixed to the vertical support surface must be non-permanent in nature. However, the means for attachment must also be strong enough and configured in such way that the container 10 is secured to the surface while articles are dispensed from the container 10.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 8A and 8B, the container 10 is non-permanently affixed to a surface 135 by multiple attachment strips 130 on the back panel 18 of the container 10. The attachment strip 130 may be any type of material that will affix the container 10 to the surface 135, but will allow the container 10 to be removed from the surface 135, repositioned, and reaffixed to the surface 135.

For example, the attachment strip 130 may be a pressure-sensitive adhesive or any other type of adhesive, as are well known, that would work for such purposes. Such an adhesive strip may be protected by a peel strip that covers the adhesive until the user wishes to affix the container 10 to a surface 135. Such an adhesive may be applied directly to the back panel 18 of the container 10 or may be in the form of two-sided adhesive tape. In another example, the attachment strip may be a hook or a loop material that affixes to corresponding loop/hook material on the surface 135 the container 10 is to be affixed.

The attachment strips 130 are illustrated in FIGS. 8A and 8B as two strips located on the back panel 18; one near the lower panel 14 and one near the upper panel 16. The attachment strips 130 may be of any shape, any dimension and in any position, relative to each other and to the back panel 18, that would securely affix the container 10 to the surface 135 during dispensing. For example, the attachment strips may be larger, smaller, vertically aligned, or otherwise configured on the back panel 18. Instead of two attachment strips 130 there may be more than two strips or there may be just one attachment strip.

FIGS. 9A and 9B illustrate a back tab 141 for affixing the container 10 to a surface 135. As shown, a portion of the back panel 18 may be adapted to be released from the back panel 18 along a line of weakness 143 in the back panel 18. Such a line of weakness 143 may be perforations, scoring or other similar method of providing weakness in the material. The back tab 141 may then be folded out of the plane of the back panel 18 and used to affix the container to the surface 135. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B, the back tab 141 has multiple receiving openings 145 which may be holes present in the back tab 141 or may be perforations in the back tab 141 where the back tab material may be removed. Such a receiving opening 145 may be attached to a mounting bracket 147 that is present on the surface 135. Instead of utilizing receiving openings 145, the back tab 145 may utilize an attachment strip. Such an attachment strip may be located on the interior of the container 10 until the back tab 145 is folded out of the plane of the back panel 18, to affix the container 10 to the surface 135. Alternatively, a combination of the back tabs 141, attachment strips 130, receiving openings 145, and mounting brackets 147 may be used.

The back tabs 141 in FIGS. 9A and 9B are shown to be portions of the back panel 18 that are folded out of the plane of the back panel 18 and support the container 10 from above. Alternatively, the back tabs 141 may be formed out of one or more portions side panels 17 that is folded back out of the plane of the side panel 17 and affixes the container 10 to the surface 135. The back tabs 141 may also be formed out of a combination one or more portions of the back panels 18 and the side panels 17.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 10A and 10B, the container 10 is affixed to the surface 135 by a mounting connector 157 that connects with a receptor 155 on the back panel 18 of the container 10. The receptor 155, may be holes in the back panel 18, holes that may be made in the back panel 18 by removing portions of the back panel 18 defined by perforations (as shown in FIG. 10A), or other means that will work in concert with the mounting connector 157 to affix the container 10 to the surface 135. For example, the back panel 18 may include a receptor 155 that will affix to mounting connector 157 that is recessed in the surface 135. In another example, the receptor 155 may be a magnetic material that will affix to a surface 135 made of metal or to a magnetic mounting connector 157.

Finally, the mounting connector 157 may be a bracket attached to the surface 135 designed such that the entire container 10 slips inside of or is otherwise wholly supported by the bracket.

As an added feature, the container may also include instruction indicia to instruct as to how the container should be used. The term “instruction indicia”, as used herein, means any word(s), numeral(s), line(s), symbol(s), picture(s), and/or combination(s) thereof, and so forth, which indicate the manner in which the container 10 is to be properly used. Such instruction indicia may be located at the appropriate locations on the container 10 itself or may be included along with the container 10. Non-limiting examples of such instruction indicia may include symbols printed on the front panel 15 of the container 10 or may be pictures and words printed on a card that is packaged and shipped with the container 10.

Instruction indicia could be used to instruct a consumer or custodial staff the proper manner to affix the container 10 to a support surface, to configure the container 10 prior to dispensing, to configure the container 10 for disposal, to properly dispose of the container 10, and/or to replace a used container 10 with a new container 10. Alternatively, or additionally, the instruction indicia could include instructions to users regarding the manner to dispense articles 12 from the container 10 and dispose of the used articles 19 back into the container 10.

Instruction indicia may also be included to encourage use of the dispenser. For example, in the case of a container 10 used to dispense tissue for use in opening door handles, instruction indicia could include instruction as to the proper use of the container and the tissues along with information regarding preventing contact transmission of germs and viruses. These examples are not intended to be limiting, other types of instruction as to the use of the container 10 may be indicated by the instruction indicia.

EXAMPLE

In one exemplary embodiment, the container may dispense folded tissues for use in opening of doors. The container would be of particular use in areas where it is undesirable to handle a door handle, door knob or door push plate with bare hands. The container 10 may be located on the door or on a wall next to the door. In either case the container 10 would be proximate to the part of the door that needs to be manipulated. The person wishing to pass through the door without handling the door with a bare hand can remove a tissue from the container 10 and use the tissue as a barrier between the door and their hand while manipulating the door open. Once the door has been opened the user can dispense of the tissue through the waste receptacle opening 23 of the container 10.

Such a container for door handling could be as shown in FIG. 1. The container 10, as shown, may have a back panel 18 that is approximately 5.5 inches (140 mm) wide and approximately 15 inches (381 mm) tall. A front panel 15 may be approximately 5.5 inches (140 mm) wide and approximately 13.5 inches (343 mm) tall. The container 10 may be approximately 5.5 inches (140 mm) deep. The tissues enclosed in such a container 10 could be 4.5 inches (114 mm) by 4.5 inches (114 mm) and stacked into a stack approximately 4 inches (102 mm) tall. The remainder of the interior of the space of the container 10 would comprise the waste receptacle space 24 of the container 10.

The dispensing opening 21 may be located and centered on the lower panel 14, as shown in FIG. 1, and be approximately 3.5 inches (89 mm) by approximately 1 inch (25 mm) in size. The waste receptacle opening 23 may include a portion of both the upper panel 16 and the front panel 15. Such a waste receptacle opening 23 may occupy approximately 3 inches (76 mm) by 3 inches (76 mm) of space on the upper panel 16 and approximately 4 inches (102 mm) by 3 inches (76 mm) of space on the front panel 15.