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EU Single Use Plastics Directive & Tethered caps for spouted pouches: Sustainability on the rise

Updated: May 9

The EU Single-Use Plastics Directive is a legislative initiative aimed at reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. Adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2019, the directive targets single-use plastic items that are frequently found on European beaches and seas, as well as abandoned fishing gear.

Tethered caps & lids for EU single use plastics

What are tethered caps and lids?

By July 2024, it will be compulsory for SUP beverage containers to incorporate design features ensuring that their caps and lids remain securely tethered to the container during usage, thereby enhancing recyclability and preventing leakage into the environment. While the precise specifications for attached closures under the Single-Use Plastic directive are still being finalized, it is certain that all plastic caps must remain affixed to the bottle or pouch throughout their intended use, thus minimizing the risk of inadvertent environmental leakage.

Key provisions of the directive

Ban on certain single-use plastic products: The directive bans the sale of certain plastic items for which alternatives exist. This includes items like plastic straws, cutlery, plates, and cotton swabs.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Producers are required to cover the costs of waste management and cleanup efforts for certain single-use plastic products. This encourages producers to adopt more sustainable practices and materials.

Collection targets for plastic bottles: EU member states are required to collect 90% of single-use plastic beverage bottles by 2029. This aims to increase recycling rates and reduce plastic waste.

Labelling requirements: Certain single-use plastic products must be labeled to inform consumers of their environmental impact, as well as provide information on proper disposal methods.

Awareness campaigns: The directive mandates awareness-raising measures to educate consumers about the environmental impact of single-use plastics and promote sustainable alternatives.

Various solutions have been devised to create tethered caps that meet regulatory standards. In general, manufacturers of caps and closure systems have pursued two primary methods: the development of hinged tops and lasso closures. Each approach presents a range of different concepts, with factors such as existing machinery and associated modification costs influencing the decision-making process.

These additional costs are a crucial consideration for the entire supply chain involved in the single-use beverage market. Customer surveys and sales meetings consistently indicate that passing on costs to consumers is unlikely to be well-received. Therefore, tethered closures that ensure legal compliance without imposing significant additional costs are highly favoured.

Overall, the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive represents a significant step towards reducing plastic pollution and promoting a more circular economy within the European Union.

EU Single Use Plastics Directive

The European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy aims to revolutionise the entire life-cycle of plastic products within the EU, encompassing their design, usage, production, and recycling processes. Its primary objective is to mitigate the environmental impact of single-use plastic (SUP) items, which account for roughly half of all marine litter discovered along European coastlines.

Benefits of tethered caps for consumers include simplified recyclability, addressing growing concerns about sustainability by minimizing litter, and reducing the risk of accidental swallowing due to enhanced safety features.

What about the UK ?

While European Union member states are obligated to adhere to this directive, the United Kingdom, following Brexit, retains the authority to autonomously decide on implementing comparable regulations. This creates an intriguing situation for companies operating in both regions, as they may encounter varying packaging standards that require careful navigation.

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