The EU Single Use Plastic Directive is catalysing change in the European beverage packaging landscape, from targeting recycling and recycled content minimums, to requiring plastic closures to stay attached, tethered, to plastic containers. This, in order to capture closures, for recycling and re-use, for circularity. Tethered caps by 2024 calls for cross-value chain collaboration. R&D efforts, to advance on technical standards, consumer comfort and sustainability pillars, are well underway.
For bottles, there are timelines for recycling and use of recycled content. For plastic caps, these must stay attached ‘tethered’ to the pack, so they are collected and recycled in far greater number. Regulatory pressure here joins with consumer sentiment The EU Single-Use Plastic Directive places special focus on plastic beverage packaging and closures because of their high volumes in circulation and presence as waste.and brand/packager commitment to plastic sustainability in their business practices.
Article 6 of the directive requires tethered closures across beverage applications by July 2024 asks for a substantial change to brands’ filling/capping operations with R&D implications for brands, for closure producers, rigid plastic packaging (led by PET bottles), liquid carton and pouch manufacturers, in the transition to tethered caps.
There is need for agreed technical specifications on strength and consumer experience criteria. The closures supply chain seeks early compliance to allow time for testing and production line adjustments, to minimise disruption. This is an opportunity to innovate for sustainability gain, to reduce plastic use and increase recycled content, latter a fast-growing trend for PET bottles. Communication with consumers on reasons for tethered can bring broader improvements to packaging handling post-use, for re-use.
The use of plastic continues to evolve along circular economy principles. Brands’ actions and national laws signpost a potential for tethered caps beyond the EU. In the US, California’s AB793 bill, passed in 2020 mandates for recycled bottle content which, requires better collection, could tethered caps be an input? Deposit schemes are also discussed as an alternative solution. Given the recent rise in net-zero pledges to address climate impact, tethered caps may see wider reach.
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