The Coca-Cola Company has announced that it will use a new, lightweight “tethered cap” for its carbonated soft drinks in PET bottles for the Europe erea. In addition to benefits in recyclability and material savings, the new cap primarily meets the EU requirement on tethered caps, which comes into force in July 2024. It aims to ensure that bottles are recycled together with their caps and that loose caps no longer end up in the environment. The tethered caps regulation forces companies to make high investments. The question arises as to whether the requirement is actually purposeful. In the interest of the matter at hand, it would be better if the regulatory work were to rely more on exchanges with specialists and the expertise of experts.
More than 400 million of the closures, which are firmly attached to the bottle, have so far been successfully used on Coca-Cola bottling lines in Germany, Spain and the UK. Currently, the rollout is underway at the company’s other European plants.
(Eco) details on the new closure
- The closure is based on the patented CompactFlip hinge solution from U.S. plastics company Berry and was developed by the Cetie (The International Technical Centre for Bottling) Single-Use Plastics Group.
- According to the company, it is the first closure to be used in conjunction with the new lightweight 26-mm GME30.40 neck. The new neck saves more than 1 g of PET per closure compared to the current PCO-1881 neck.
- Combined with the 10% weight reduction from the closure, the new package is now about 20% lighter than the PCO-1881 version, according to Coca-Cola.
The EU regulation
The EU Directive 2019/2024 requires single-use plastic beverage bottles with a capacity of up to 3 liters to be fitted with caps that remain on the container throughout its service life from July 2024. The goal: closures should no longer end up in the environment or be lost for recycling.
A lot of effort, little return?
Coca-Cola wants to make 100 percent of its packaging recyclable worldwide by 2025. In this respect, the new closure is another step to be pleased about. The reduced material input also pays towards sustainability goals. However, when it comes to meeting the EU requirement for closures firmly attached to the bottle, big question marks remain.
This is because the changeover to tethered caps requires high investments from companies. Is this effort worthwhile? How high is the proportion of consumers who actually dispose of caps and bottles separately or only dispose of the bottle and throw the cap into the environment? Most people are likely to dispose of the bottle and cap together anyway (by whatever means).
More expertise needed for regulations
The question is whether there are not other, more effective levers to solve problems of this kind. It would be more purposeful and in the spirit of the matter if regulatory work were to rely more on exchanges with experts and the expertise of specialists – and to do so before decisions are enshrined in law and enforced. The desired effects would almost certainly be greater – and the costs lower.