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Title:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DISPENSING A MIXTURE OF LIQUID AND ACTIVE LIQUID AND CARTRIDGE FOR USE THEREIN
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/091550
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A liquid dispensing system (1) comprising at least one container (2) for storing the liquid to be dispensed and a liquid dispensing device (4) releasably connectable to the at least one container (2), wherein a cartridge (3) for a active liquid to be mixed with the stored liquid is accommodated in a neck (10) of the container (2), said cartridge (3) comprising a sealed active liquid reservoir (6), opening means (16) for forming the outflow opening in at least one reservoir wall; and further comprising aerating means (23) for forming at least one aerating opening in at least one of a top wall (7) and a side wall (8) of the reservoir (6).

Inventors:
MAAS, Wilhelmus Johannes Joseph (Grebbe 24, 5711 KV SOMEREN, 5711 KV, NL)
NERVO, Paulo (Heuvelseweg 10, 5528 AE HOOGELOON, 5528 AE, NL)
Application Number:
EP2017/078516
Publication Date:
May 16, 2019
Filing Date:
November 07, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
DISPENSING TECHNOLOGIES B.V. (Grasbeemd 1, 5705 DE HELMOND, 5705 DE, NL)
International Classes:
B05B11/00; B65D81/32; B65D51/28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARTELDS, Erik (Arnold + Siedsma, Bezuidenhoutseweg 57, 2594 AC Den Haag, 2594 AC, NL)
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Claims:
Claims

1. Liquid dispensing system comprising at least one container for storing the liquid to be dispensed and a liquid dispensing device releasably connectable to the at least one container, wherein the at least one container has a neck defining an fill opening for the liquid and wherein a cartridge for a active liquid to be mixed with the stored liquid is accommodated in the neck;

wherein the cartridge comprises:

a sealed active liquid reservoir defined by a top wall, a bottom wall and a side wall, wherein an outflow opening can be formed in at least one of the top wall, the bottom wall and the side wall of the reservoir to allow the active liquid to flow into the container; and

opening means for forming the outflow opening in the at least one reservoir wall; characterized by aerating means for forming at least one aerating opening in at least one of the top wall and the side wall of the reservoir. 2. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 1, characterized in that the aerating means are arranged to act in conjunction with the opening means.

3. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the top wall is frangible and the aerating means comprise at least one piercing element arranged to pierce the frangible top wall.

4. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 3, characterized in that the at least one piercing element is arranged on the liquid dispensing device, such that the top wall is pierced when the liquid dispensing device is connected to the container.

5. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 2 and 4, characterized in that the opening means are activated when the liquid dispensing device is connected to the container.

6. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the aerating means comprise a valve selectively closing off a preformed aerating opening.

7. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 6, characterized in that the valve is movable from a storage and transport position in which it closes off the aerating opening to an active position in which it allows fluid flow through the aerating opening.

8. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 6 or 7, characterized in that the aerating opening is preformed in the side wall of the reservoir, the reservoir is slideably arranged in a sleeve, and the valve includes a part of a side wall of the sleeve overlapping the aerating opening. 9. Liquid dispensing system according to any one of claims 6-8, characterized by a liquid dispensing opening formed in the top wall and closable by a valve.

10. Liquid dispensing system according to any one of claims 6-9, characterized by a cap releasably connected to the cartridge.

11. Liquid dispensing system according to any one of the preceding claims or the preamble of claim 1 , characterized in that the liquid dispensing device is connected to the container through the cartridge. 12. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 11, characterized in that the cartridge is fixedly connected to the neck of the container and the liquid dispensing device is releasably connected to the cartridge.

13. Liquid dispensing system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the reservoir is slideably arranged in a sleeve, the frangible wall is the bottom wall of the reservoir and the opening means include a sharp protrusion arranged on a permeable bottom of the sleeve.

14. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 13, characterized in that the sleeve is fixedly connected to the neck of the container and includes frangible release means.

15. Liquid dispensing system according to any one of the preceding claims or the preamble of claim 1 , characterized in that the reservoir has a cross-sectional area which substantially corresponds with a cross-sectional area of the neck of the container.

16. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 15, characterized in that the side wall is substantially cylindrical and the reservoir has a substantially circular cross-section.

17. Liquid dispensing system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the container is a composite container comprising a relatively stiff outer container and a relatively flexible inner container for storing the liquid, wherein a space between the inner and outer containers is connectable to a source of displacing medium.

18. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 17, characterized by at least one opening in the outer layer connected to the source of displacing medium through a valve.

19. Liquid dispensing system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized by a plurality of cartridges which are each arranged to be successively

accommodated in the neck of the liquid dispensing device.

20. Liquid dispensing system according to any one of the preceding claims or the preamble of claim 1 , characterized in that the liquid dispensing device and/or the at least one container is at least partially made of recycled plastic material, in particular recycled consumer plastic waste.

21. Liquid dispensing system according to claim 20, characterized in that the liquid dispensing device includes a spring biased actuator which is made of virgin plastic material.

22. Liquid dispensing system according to claims 17 and 20, characterized in that the inner container is made of recycled plastic material.

23. Method of dispensing a liquid, comprising the steps of:

filling at least one container with the liquid to be dispensed;

providing at least one cartridge filled with a active liquid, the cartridge comprising a sealed reservoir defined by a top wall, a bottom wall and a side wall, and wherein an outflow opening can be formed in at least one of the top wall, the bottom wall and the side wall of the reservoir;

arranging the cartridge in a neck of the container;

opening the cartridge by forming the outflow opening in the at least one wall of the reservoir to allow the active liquid to flow into the container and mix with the liquid; and

dispensing the stored liquid mixed with the active liquid;

characterized in that opening the cartridge further includes forming at least one aerating hole in the top wall and/or the side wall of the reservoir.

24. Method according to claim 23, characterized in that the at least one aerating opening is formed by piercing the top wall of the reservoir.

25. Method according to claim 24, characterized in that the top wall is pierced when a liquid dispensing device is connected to the container. 26. Method according to any one of claims 23-25, characterized in that the outflow opening is formed in the at least one reservoir wall when a liquid dispensing device is connected to the container.

27. Method according claim 23, characterized in that the at least one aerating opening is formed by opening a valve selectively closing off a preformed aerating opening.

28. Method according to claim 27, characterized in that the valve is opened by sliding the reservoir including the preformed aerating opening into a sleeve including a part overlapping the aerating opening.

29. Method according to any one of claims 23-28, characterized in that the stored liquid mixed with the active liquid is dispensed through an opening formed in the top wall of the reservoir and closable by a valve. 30. Method according to any one of claims 23-29, characterized in that the cartridge is provided with a cap which is removed when a liquid dispensing device is connected to the container.

31. Method according to any one of claims 23-30 or the preamble of claim 23, characterized in that a liquid dispensing device is connected to the container through a cartridge.

32. Method according to claim 31 , characterized in that the cartridge is fixedly connected to the neck of the container and the liquid dispensing device is releasably connected to the cartridge.

33. Method according to any one of claims 23-32, characterized in that after the stored liquid mixed with the active liquid has been dispensed from the container, the cartridge is removed from the neck of the container and a new cartridge filled with active liquid is arranged in the neck.

34. Method according to any one of claims 23-33 or the preamble of claim 23, characterized in that the mixture of stored liquid and active liquid is dispensed without venting the container.

35. Method according to any one of claims 23-34 or the preamble of claim 23, characterized in that the at least one container, the cartridge and/or the liquid dispensing device is at least partially made of recycled plastic material, in particular recycled consumer plastic waste.

36. Cartridge for a active liquid for use in a liquid dispensing system according to any one of claims 1-22 or in the method according to any one of claims 23-35.

37. Liquid dispensing device for use in the liquid dispensing system according to any one of claims 1-22 or in the method according to any one of claims 23-35.

38. Container for use in the liquid dispensing system according to any one of claims 1-22 or in the method according to any one of claims 23-35.

Description:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DISPENSING A MIXTURE OF LIQUID AND ACTIVE LIQUID AND CARTRIDGE FOR USE THEREIN

The present invention relates to a liquid dispensing system for use in combination with exchangeable cartridges containing an active liquid to be mixed with a liquid to be dispensed. In particular, the invention relates to such a system in which non-refillable cartridges can be replaced after use. More specifically, the invention relates to a liquid dispensing system comprising at least one container for storing the liquid to be dispensed and a liquid dispensing device releasably connectable to the at least one container, wherein the at least one container has a neck defining an fill opening for the liquid and wherein a cartridge for a active liquid to be mixed with the liquid is accommodated in the neck; wherein the cartridge comprises: a sealed active liquid reservoir defined by a top wall, a bottom wall and a side wall, wherein an outflow opening can be formed in at least one of the top wall, the bottom wall and the side wall of the reservoir to allow the active liquid to flow into the container; and opening means for forming the outflow opening in the at least one reservoir wall. Such a liquid dispensing system is known, e.g. from US 6,182,865 Bl or from US 6,290,100 Bl.

Nowadays consumer goods are increasingly bought on the internet. This applies not just to clothing, shoes and electronics, but also to day-to-day shopping. This development has implications for the design of products, which must lend themselves to being shipped in small quantities or even individually, possibly in combination with other types of goods. Moreover, since physical inspection of goods before purchase is not possible, and since no retailer is involved as link between the consumer and the manufacturer involved, it is increasingly important to ensure that products cannot be tampered with, so that the consumer gets the exact product that he has ordered.

Another challenge in product design nowadays is sustainability.

The invention has for its object to provide a liquid dispensing system that meets the demands of both e-commerce and sustainability. In accordance with a first aspect of the invention, this is achieved by providing the liquid dispensing system of the type defined above with aerating means for forming at least one aerating opening in at least one of the top wall and the side wall of the reservoir.

Providing a cartridge filled with active liquid allows an end user to obtain the liquid desired, e.g. a detergent, by simply filling the container with water and then mixing in the active liquid, e.g. a concentrate. In this way the volume of liquid to be shipped from producer to end user can be reduced dramatically. The cartridge is small enough to fit in a letterbox, which simplifies distribution since the cartridge can be sent by regular mail. And even if a courier service is engaged, the courier does not have to wait for someone to deliver the package to, but can simply put it in the letterbox.

And by forming an aerating opening in the side wall or even the top wall, the bottom of the cartridge may be submerged in the liquid that is stored in the container. In this way the liquid level in the container may be higher and the internal volume of the container may be used more efficiently, thus allowing a smaller or different container to be used for dispensing a given volume of liquid.

In one embodiment of the liquid dispensing system, the aerating means are arranged to act in conjunction with the opening means. In this way the outflow of the active liquid from the cartridge is accelerated by the simultaneous inflow of air.

A structurally simple system is obtained when the top wall is frangible and the aerating means comprise at least one piercing element arranged to pierce the frangible top wall.

In that case the at least one piercing element may be arranged on the liquid dispensing device, such that the top wall will be automatically pierced when the liquid dispensing device is connected to the container.

In another embodiment of the liquid dispensing system, the opening means are activated when the liquid dispensing device is connected to the container. In this way the cartridge is automatically opened at two positions to let in air and let out the active liquid. When the wall of the reservoir to be opened is frangible, the opening means may be embodied as rupturing means.

In yet another embodiment of the liquid dispensing system, the aerating means comprise a valve selectively closing off a preformed aerating opening. This allows for a more controlled aeration than piercing a wall.

The valve may be movable from a storage and transport position in which it closes off the aerating opening to an active position in which it allows fluid flow through the aerating opening.

In one embodiment of the liquid dispensing system, the aerating opening is preformed in the side wall of the reservoir, the reservoir is slideably arranged in a sleeve, and the valve includes a part of a side wall of the sleeve overlapping the aerating opening. This allows the valve to open when the reservoir is slid into the sleeve, e.g. when the dispensing device is mounted on the container.

In one embodiment, the liquid dispensing system may include a liquid dispensing opening formed in the top wall of the reservoir and closable by a valve. In this way the mixture of stored liquid and active liquid may be dispensed from the container through the reservoir. The valve prevents leakage in case the dispensing device is disconnected from the container. And when the system is an airless system including a "bag-in-bottle" container, like the Flair® container marketed by the applicant, the valve prevents the remaining liquid from collecting at the bottom of the container.

When a cap is connected to the cartridge, the risk of leakage of active liquid during transport and/or storage is further reduced. For added security the cap may be fixedly connected to the cartridge. In that case the cap may be frangible or closed by lugs, so that it can be permanently removed before use of the cartridge.

In one aspect, the invention provides a liquid dispensing system in which the liquid dispensing device is connected to the container through the cartridge. In this way the dispensing device and the container can only be used in combination with the cartridge. This allows a proprietary dispensing system to be designed, which accepts only cartridges from a certain manufacturer.

In that case the cartridge may be fixedly connected to the neck of the container and the liquid dispensing device may be releasably connected to the cartridge. The fixed connection of the cartridge ensures that it cannot be removed, or at least not without tampering being evident.

In an embodiment of the liquid dispensing system, the reservoir is slideably arranged in a sleeve, the wall to be opened is the bottom wall of the reservoir and the opening means include a sharp protrusion arranged on a permeable bottom of the sleeve. In this way the reservoir may be opened by simply pushing it towards the bottom of the sleeve. The active liquid may then flow out of the reservoir by gravity and/or by shaking the system, and may flow through the permeable bottom of the sleeve into the container so as to be mixed with the stored liquid.

In order to allow the sleeve to withstand the loads to which it is subjected when the reservoir is opened, and to prevent tampering with the container after the cartridge has been arranged in the neck, the sleeve may be fixedly connected to the neck of the container and may include frangible release means, e.g. a tear strip. In this way the cartridge can only be removed by breaking the connection between the sleeve and the neck.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a liquid dispensing system is provided in which the reservoir has a cross-sectional area which substantially corresponds with a cross-sectional area of the neck of the container. By using the entire cross-section of the neck for accommodating the cartridge, the length of the cartridge may be reduced for a given amount of active liquid. This in turn allows the container to be filled even further, thus enabling a relatively smaller container for a given amount of liquid to be dispensed. Using the entire cross-section is possible when there is no need to accommodate a dip tube as used in the prior art.

In that case, when the side wall is substantially cylindrical, the reservoir may have a substantially circular cross-section. Contrary to the prior art devices, which require a central opening to be provided for accommodating a dip tube extending to the bottom of the container, thus resulting in an annular reservoir, the device of the present invention allows the full cross- section of the neck to be filled with active liquid.

In an embodiment of the liquid dispensing system, the container may be a composite container comprising a relatively stiff outer container and a relatively flexible inner container for storing the liquid, wherein a space between the inner and outer containers is connectable to a source of displacing medium. Such a composite container, known as "bag-in- bottle" offers various advantages. It avoids contact between the stored liquid and active liquid on one hand and ambient air on the other. Moreover, it does not require a long dip tube extending to the bottom of the container and it allows a dispensing device to be used in any position, even upside down.

In order to prevent the outer container from contracting when liquid is dispensed from the inner container, the liquid dispensing system may include at least one opening in the outer layer connected to the source of displacing medium through a valve.

In an embodiment the liquid dispensing system comprises a plurality of cartridges which are each arranged to be successively accommodated in and removed from the neck of the liquid dispensing device. In this way the container and the dispensing device can be used more than once, which reduces both the cost and the carbon footprint of the system.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, a liquid dispensing system is provided in which the liquid dispensing device and/or the at least one container is at least partially made of recycled plastic material, in particular recycled consumer plastic waste. In this way the cost and the carbon footprint are even further reduced.

In one embodiment, the liquid dispensing device may include a spring biased actuator which is made of virgin plastic material. In this way the material of the various parts may be adapted to the function of the parts and the expected loads. Alternatively, when none of the parts are heavily loaded, like e.g. in the case of a soap dispenser, the entire liquid dispensing device could be made of recycled plastic.

As a result of similar considerations the inner container, which may be hidden from sight, may be made of recycled plastic material.

The invention also relates to a method of dispensing a liquid, comprising the steps of: filling at least one container with the liquid to be dispensed; providing at least one cartridge filled with a active liquid, the cartridge comprising a sealed active liquid reservoir defined by a top wall, a bottom wall and a side wall, and at least one of the top wall, the bottom wall and the side wall of the reservoir being frangible; arranging the cartridge in a neck of the container; opening the cartridge by rupturing the at least one frangible wall to allow the active liquid to flow into the container and mix with the liquid; and dispensing the liquid mixed with the active liquid. Such a method is also disclosed, at least implicitly, in prior art documents US 6,182,865 Bl and US 6,290,100 Bl.

The method of the present invention is distinguished from these prior art methods in that opening the cartridge includes forming at least one aerating hole in the top wall and/or the side wall of the reservoir.

Preferred ways of carrying out this method form the subject matter of dependent claims 22-30.

And finally, the invention relates to a cartridge, a dispensing device and a container for use in the liquid dispensing system and the method as described above.

The invention will now be illustrated by means of a number of exemplary embodiments thereof, wherein reference is made to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a first embodiment of a liquid dispensing system in accordance with the invention, including a container, a sleeve, a reservoir and a dispensing device;

Fig. 2 is an enlarged scale perspective sectional view of a neck of the container accommodating the sleeve into which the reservoir is introduced;

Fig. 3 is a view corresponding with Fig. 2 and showing how the dispensing device is mounted on the neck of the container;

Fig. 4 is a perspective bottom view of the cartridge and the dispensing device before assembly;

Fig. 5 is a view corresponding with Fig. 4 of the cartridge and the dispensing device in their assembled state;

Fig. 6 is a perspective bottom view of an alternative embodiment of the dispensing device having a central piercing element, rather than a plurality of peripheral piercing elements;

Fig. 7 is a side view of a second embodiment of the cartridge for use in an alternative embodiment of the liquid dispensing system;

Fig. 8 is a perspective sectional view of the cartridge of Fig. 7 before use, when it is still sealed and filled with active liquid;

Fig. 9 is a longitudinal sectional view of the cartridge of Figs. 7 and 8 before use; Fig. 10 is a view corresponding with Fig. 9 and showing the cartridge after it has been opened by rupturing the bottom wall; and

Figs. 11-14 are perspective views showing the various steps of preparing a container and cartridge for use to dispense a mixture of a liquid and a active liquid.

A liquid dispensing system 1 in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention comprises a container 2, a cartridge 3 and a dispensing device 4 (Fig. 1). The container may be a so-called "bag-in-bottle" container like the Flair® type containers marketed by the applicant.

In this embodiment the cartridge 3 comprises a sleeve 4 and a reservoir 5. The reservoir has a top wall 6, side wall 7 and a bottom wall 8 and is filled with a active liquid. The container 2 may be filled with a liquid to be dispensed, e.g. water, to which the active liquid may be admixed before dispensing. The cartridge 3 is arranged to be accommodated in a neck 10 of the container 2. In this embodiment the sleeve 5 is arranged to be fixedly connected to the neck 10, while the reservoir 6 is arranged to be slidably accommodated in the sleeve 5.

The sleeve 5 comprises a collar 11 having a plurality of primary lugs 12 which are arranged for forming a snap connection with an annular rim 13 protruding from the neck 10. The sleeve 5 further includes an annular part 14 extending from the collar 11 and including bayonet connection means 15. These bayonet connecting means 15 cooperate with secondary lugs 29 (Fig. 4) of the dispensing device 4. The snap connection between the sleeve 5 and the neck 10 cannot be released without breaking or at least plastically deforming the primary lugs 12, thus ensuring that the sleeve 5 cannot be replaced. The dispensing device 4 is connected to the bottle 2 through the cartridge 3, as the dispensing device 4 is connected to sleeve 5, which in turn is connected to the container 2. Consequently, the dispensing device 4 and the container 2 cannot be used without the cartridge 3. In this way a proprietary liquid dispensing system 1 is obtained, which can only function with cartridges 3 provided by one manufacturer. This allows the manufacturer to provide a high quality container 2 and high quality liquid dispensing device 4 at relatively low cost, since the cost of the system may be recouped through sales of the cartridges 4.

The active liquid may be released from the reservoir 6 by forming an opening in one of the walls 7-9 using opening means 16. In this embodiment, the bottom wall 9 is frangible and the sleeve 5 comprises opening means 16 in the form of rupturing means which are arranged for rupturing the frangible bottom wall 9. In this embodiment the rupturing means 16 include a protrusion 17 having a sharp edge 18 and extending inwards from a bottom 19 of the sleeve 5 (Fig. 2). The sharp edge 18 is inclined to improve its cutting action. The bottom 19 of the sleeve 5 is permeable, and is provided with a central hole 20. In this embodiment the entire sleeve 5 is permeable, since its sidewall is made up of a plurality of spaced apart strips 21 defining openings 22 there between.

In order to improve the flow of active liquid out of the reservoir 6, the liquid dispensing device of the invention comprises aerating means 23 for forming an aerating opening in the sidewall 8 or top wall 7 of the reservoir 6. In this embodiment the aerating means 23 include a plurality of piercing elements 24 which are arranged for piercing the top wall 7. The piercing elements 24 protrude from an inner wall 25 of the dispensing device 4, which is surrounded by a collar 26. The piercing elements 24 engage the top wall 7 of the reservoir 6 when the dispensing device 4 is connected to the container 2 through the cartridge 3 (Fig. 3). The dispensing device 4 further includes a plurality of downwardly protruding teeth 27 which are arranged to engage with a plurality of ribs 28 on the sidewall 8 of the reservoir 6. This engagement causes the reservoir 6 to be rotated with the dispensing device 4, when that is connected to the sleeve 5 by means of the bayonet connectors 15, 29. In this way the reservoir 6 is rotated with respect to the sleeve 5 when the dispensing device 4 is mounted on the container 2, thus further increasing the cutting action of the rupturing means 16.

In this embodiment the dispensing device 4 includes a valve 30 which is biased by a spring 31 to a position engaging a valve seat 32. This valve seat 32 surrounds a dispensing opening 33. The valve 30 may be moved to an open position against the biasing force of the spring 31 by an external actuator (not shown).

Since the reservoir 6 is opened at both ends, its bottom wall 9 being ruptured by the sharp protrusion 17 and its top wall 7 being pierced by the piercing elements 24, the active liquid will flow out of the reservoir 6 very quickly. While the active liquid flows out through the ruptured bottom wall 9 and the permeable bottom 19 of the sleeve 5, air from the head space of the container 2 enters the reservoir 6 through the pierced top wall 7. As a result of the aerating openings formed in the top wall 7, the cartridge 3 may be submerged below the liquid level L, and still be emptied into the container 2. This allows the liquid level L to be relatively high, and the head space H to be correspondingly small.

In an alternative embodiment of the liquid dispensing device 4, the four peripheral piercing elements 24 are replaced by a single central piercing element 24' (Fig. 6). In this way a single, relatively larger aerating opening may be formed in the top wall 7 of the reservoir 6.

Since the reservoir 6 is opened at both ends by plastic deformation, i.e. by rupturing the frangible bottom wall 9 and piercing the frangible top wall 7, it cannot be refilled. Consequently, after the reservoir 6 has been emptied and the liquid from the container 2 has all been spent, the empty reservoir 6 has to be replaced by a new reservoir filled with the active liquid.

In another embodiment of the invention, which is presently the preferred embodiment, not just the opening means but also the aerating means are integrated in the cartridge 3. In this embodiment the reservoir 6 is locked in the sleeve 5 by means of a cap 34 which is connected to the sleeve 5. The cap 34 in this embodiment consists of three parts 34a, 34b, 34c, which are connected by hinges 35. A cool ring 36 is attached to one of the cap parts 34a. The cap 34 includes lugs 36 extending inwardly through openings 37 formed in a top part of the sleeve 5.

The cartridge 3 is further surrounded by a tear strip 38 which has an actuating handle 39. The tear strip 38 defines a lower edge 40 of the external structure of the cartridge 3, which serves to abut an edge 41 surrounding the neck 6 of the container 2 (Fig. 14) when the liquid dispensing system is operational. In this embodiment the aerating means 23 include a valve 42 which selectively closes off a preformed aerating opening 43 in the reservoir 6. In this embodiment, the aerating opening 43 is preformed in the sidewall 8 of the reservoir 6 and the valve 42 includes a part of the side wall of the sleeve 5 which overlaps the aerating opening 43. When the reservoir 6 is moved downward in the sleeve 5, the aerating opening 43 moves below the valve part 42 and into fluid communication with an opening 44 in the sidewall of the sleeve 5. During this downward movement of the reservoir 6 in the sleeve 5, the opening or rupturing means 16 in the bottom part 19 of the sleeve 5 pierce the frangible bottom wall 9 of the reservoir 6, thus allowing the active liquid to be released into the container 2.

In this embodiment of the cartridge 3 the top wall 7 is not pierced to allow the reservoir 6 to be aerated. Instead, the top wall includes a liquid dispensing opening 45 which is closed by a valve 46. The valve 46 may include a flexible diaphragm or a more rigid valve that is biased into a close position by flexible peripheral arms. During storage or transport of the cartridge 3 the valve 46 is maintained in its closed position by a pusher 47 protruding inwardly from the cap 34.

It should be noted that in this embodiment the cartridge 3 includes a short dip tube 48 extending from the dispensing opening 45 into the reservoir 6. This short dip tube 48 serves to ensure that liquid is always dispensed, rather than air from the headspace.

In this embodiment the liquid dispensing device is a sprayer head, which includes a pump (not shown) actuated by a trigger 49 against the biasing force of a spring (not shown). The sprayer head includes a nozzle 50. The sprayer head may be a precompression sprayer including a precompression valve between the pump and the nozzle, but may also be a conventional sprayer. Alternatively, the dispensing device 4 might even be a buffer type dispensing device like the Flairosol® that is marketed by the applicant.

Starting with a container 2 that is filled with a first liquid, and a cartridge 3 arranged in the neck 6 of the container (Fig. 11), the cap 34 is first removed by pulling the ring 36. This separates the three parts 34a, 34b and 34c along respective separation lines 51 , allowing the parts to pivot around their hinges 35, thus releasing the cap from the sleeve 5 of the cartridge 3 (Fig. 12). Then the spray head or dispensing device 4, which includes inwardly protruding lugs arranged in a shroud 52 is connected with the bayonet connecting means 15, which in this case are formed on a top part of the reservoir 6 of the cartridge 3.

Once the spray head or dispensing device 4 is connected to the cartridge 3 by means of a bayonet connection, this assembly is then pushed downward into the neck of the container 2 until the lower edge 40 of the tear strip 48 abuts the edge 41 surrounding the neck 6 (Fig. 14). As seen in Figs. 9 and 10, this downward movement is resisted by the sleeve 5, which has a peripheral edge 52 resting on an edge of the neck 6, so that the reservoir 6 is pushed downward into the sleeve 5, thus opening the bottom wall 7 and releasing the aerating opening 43. The liquid dispensing system 1 is now ready for use to dispense the mixture of the liquid stored in the container 2 and the active liquid stored in the reservoir 6.

When all liquid has been dispensed from the container 2, the dispensing device 4 may be disconnected from the cartridge 3. Subsequently, the cartridge 3 may be disconnected from the container 2 by pulling the grip 39 and tearing loose the tear strip 38. In this way the cartridge 3 is now loosely accommodated in the neck 10, and no longer seals on the neck. The cartridge 3 cannot be used anymore and has to be replaced by a fresh cartridge 3.

In this way the invention provides a liquid dispensing system and method which allows a container and in particular a liquid dispensing device, which are the most expensive parts of the system, to be used more than once. The container and device may be used to dispense a liquid that is a mixture of a liquid stored in the container 2 and an active liquid stored in the cartridge 3. The active liquid may be a concentrate which is merely diluted by water present in the container, or it may be one component of a two-component liquid system, of which the other component is the liquid in the container. Since the cartridges are relatively small, they can be easily transported and sent around the world. Therefore, this liquid dispensing system is very well suited for an e-commerce. Moreover, because of the fact that the main parts of the system are re-used, whereas the cartridges are relatively small and may be recycled, the carbon footprint of the system is small.

Although the invention has been described by way of some exemplary

embodiments, it will be clear that many variations are conceivable in the scope of the appended claims.