In the EU it is no longer allowed to separate the tamper-evident band and cap on PET bottles. From 2024 on, tethered caps on beverage bottles under 3 liters will be mandatory in the EU. The cutting systems for tamper-evident bands must now also process the closure in such a way that a connection between the tamper-evident band and the closure remains.
PackSys Global, based in Rüti, Switzerland, presented its own machine solutions for these cap types at the K exhibition in Düsseldorf in October. The Swiss company supplies slitting and folding machines for plastic caps to manufacturers and suppliers in the beverage industry worldwide. PackSys Global’s CEO Beat Rupp explains the progress of introducing these new closure solutions to the market in a conversation with correspondent Susanne Blueml at K.
Susanne Blueml – What is the status of the tethered caps solutions in the European market now? Can we already expect standardization for these closures?
Beat Rupp – With the GME Standard 30.40 of the CETIE*, there is already a draft for a standard available that also includes the fixing of the cap to the bottle. The new standard will establish itself in the market. The beverage industry is very advanced in its readiness for standardization, compared to other sectors.
The filling processes are highly complex: the technology and the necessary process reliability force the industry very strongly towards standardization. In addition, large global players who are active in the beverage industry, in turn, need standardization for their own requirements for their worldwide locations.
SB – With regard to the comprehensive introduction of the tethered caps solution in the EU in 2024, does this mean that PackSys Global now has a full order book with its roller-cutting machines for plastic caps?
Beat Rupp – That is the case, we are very happy about that. However, we are currently facing a bottleneck in the supply chain situation, which is the strongest constraint on the whole industry at the moment. Raw materials are very difficult to get. At the moment, the supply chain is rather disruptive and we have to get a grip on that so that we can ultimately maintain the speed at which we process our orders.
SB – Can you promise today – at the end of 2022 – this ability to deliver until 2024?
Beat Rupp – We have to do our homework, but many customers have done their homework as well. Many renowned companies are super prepared and have priority projects that are progressing well. But there are also players who need a little more time and will have challenges just before the deadline.
SB – The tethered caps solution can be retrofitted to your slitter-cutters for cap production. From which year of manufacture does this make sense for the machines already in the field?
Beat Rupp – That depends entirely on the machine, and how it has been driven, cared for, and maintained. We have a lot of variants in the field. Not all variants are equally suitable – thus you can’t generalize. We really have to see what is possible on a case-by-case basis.
This applies not only to the machines but also to the desired solutions: Closure dimensions, closure concept, and then the numerous variants of tethering that have to be analyzed for such a retrofit.
SB – Do you expect standardization, that tethering will focus on some simple solutions?
Beat Rupp – At the moment we see a lot of creative solutions. Whether all of them will prevail, will possibly be decided by the consumer, because he has a choice among the different solutions. But I do expect that certain solutions will be more successful than others. Possibly those being more intuitive in terms of handling and also being more user-friendly for consumers.
SB – But with this closure solution, we spend more material again, even though we are trying to save plastic in all places.
Beat Rupp – At first glance, this is of course a discrepancy, but on the other hand it speaks precisely for a closure solution with a slit and folded tamper evidence band. We always try – where possible – to do without additional material. There is one approach of using the existing closure to realize the feature without additional material as far as possible, and the second approach of switching to the new neck dimension of 26 mm. Then the bottlers can even achieve lower closure weights.
SB – If we now look at markets in Asia, the tethered caps issue is not relevant at the moment. What prospects do you see for this closure solution in these regions?
Beat Rupp – It is clear that tethered caps will become the standard for the European markets in 2024. But I assume that other markets will follow soon. This is likely because many globally positioned companies do not want to work with different solutions and have largely standardized their supply chains. The USA and Brazil are also good examples, they are preparing themselves for the change before it even becomes mandatory. We already have clients asking for an update on our machines to be able to deliver tethered caps in their markets. Moreover, exports from these regions to Europe could also make a tethered caps solution necessary. And last but not least – in these regions, too, it is certainly desirable if the caps do not lie around in the environment.