While all plastic packaging manufacturers are aware of the same legislation and brand owner definitions when it comes to tethered closures, how they are interpreting this brief varies. From design capabilities to prototypes and customer feedback, all tethered closures have not been created equal. So what are the possible variations when everyone has the same information? Admittedly, these variations are very small, particularly from a technical perspective, yet this is where the magic happens.
Tiny differences are exactly what matters when it comes to a plastic bottle that a consumer holds up to their mouth; is it comfortable to drink from? Is it easy to open? Perhaps most importantly for the brands, will the consumer buy it again?
Sustainability is of course crucial too, but thankfully this legislation essentially has sustainability built in as standard, with the very purpose of its creation being to support the sorting and recycling of single use plastic packaging. So again, it is the small details that make the difference, both in terms of the volume of raw materials used and the cost of transportation.
Plastic packaging manufacturer RETAL has long engaged its design team to focus on creating a tethered closure solution that ticks all the boxes, from ease of opening to recyclability, and everything in between. Thanks to close connections with its global beverage brand customers, the company is continually working on new iterations of its tethered closures in order to create a solution that meets all the legislative and desirable qualities.
Andzejus Buinovskis, design engineer at RETAL, explains how the widely-available information from the brands means that it is the smallest variations that have the biggest impact. “Clearly it is imperative that all the EU SUP Directive rules of tethered closures, such as all beverage containers of up to three litres must have closures that remain attached, is adhered to, as well as the definitions published by the brands themselves. All manufacturers are working to this same information, and we all have the goal of designing and producing a tethered closure that meets all the criteria and is pleasant to use. The evolving nature of the information makes for a design challenge as well as a design opportunity; I am working on the tiniest changes, but they are crucial. There is a great challenge in knowing that you can only work with certain aspects and that it is your imagination and skill that makes the difference.”
These potentially crucial tiny changes come from the small gaps in the legislation and brand brief; with so much clearly defined and needing to be adhered to, it is in these gaps where designers like Buinovskis must concentrate. He continues, “The precision of the geometry is where we will find success. I work with the 3DExperience CAD programme CATIA from Dassault Systèmes so that I can change minute details and model the variations. The speed between variations can depend greatly; it's easy to get stuck inventing something, but also it's the idea that triggers the variation. It's easy to draw the model when you know what you want, so the most important element is coming up with the invention that meets all the criteria yet is different enough to warrant going through the process of creating a prototype.”