Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 25

packaging
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. "

The race is on

Andzejus Buinovskis

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

These different variations are at
the heart of the tethered closure
race among plastic packaging
manufacturers, which is eased
somewhat by the fact that the
household name global brands
that will be the customers for
the closures prefer to have more
than one supplier to avoid relying
on one manufacturer. Buinovskis
adds, " The well-defined requirements from the brand owners
are still evolving, so by staying
in close contact and carefully
listening to their feedback from
any prototypes, we can pick up
on the minute possibilities for
change. The brand owners often conduct testing panels with
both experts and regular consumers when a prototype has
passed all its existing criteria, so
the feedback that comes from
these panels is hugely valuable
and must be used as inspiration
for the next iteration. "
These brand requirements
sit on top of the EU SUP Directive legislation, and are primarily
concerned with how the tethered closure meets the desired
performance of convenience,
easy opening, and tactileness. In
terms of commercial practicality,
Buinovskis explains that RETAL's

goal is to create a solution that
meets the demands of the major
brands and can also be suitable
for smaller players in the beverage industry, in order to offer
the cost advantage of high-volume manufacture. He says, " It is
unlikely that a brand will ask for
a patent as everyone is working
to the same legal requirements,
but that is possible. Our goal is to
have one tethered closure that is
suitable for our whole portfolio of
preforms while avoiding any already patented solutions, that we
can offer to a range of customers
with their own unique variations
of colour. We can also offer laser
engraving on the inside of the
closure for further customisation. "

Why the hold up?
So if all the plastic packaging
manufacturers already know
the requirements of the global beverage brand owners that
will be buying the tethered closures, and the EU SUP Directive
legislation that states the legal
requirements of the packaging is publicly available, why is
there not already an approved
solution? As Buinovskis has
said, the test groups of experts
and consumers are still in process of analysing the comfort
and performance of the proposed solution from RETAL and
other manufacturers, so what
is clearly defined as a legal requirement, such as the closure
'remaining intact', is not offered
as a design solution. Plus, the
costs and time involved in each
iteration means that what could
be nearly perfect is as good as
useless. Buinovskis adds, " Our
current position is that we are
waiting for a metal part to be

expertly tooled so that we can
create prototypes of our latest
iteration; once that is received,
we will need to quickly find a
small gap in our production,
probably at a time when a machine is being adapted for a new
colour, so that we can install
the metal part in two cavities
and then produce a number of
samples to be analysed. At each
step, our experts are assessing
and adapting to make sure every element of the design and
production is optimised. "

No going back
What is clear is that tethered
closures are not going anywhere. While the marathonnot-a-sprint to design and produce tethered closures that suit
beverage brand requirements
and meet EU legalities is still
in full swing, plastic packaging
manufacturers are all working
to create their own personal
solution so that they stay in the
race. But not offering a tethered
closure is not going to be an option soon, it's better to be at the
front of the pack in order to gain
market share. Buinovskis concludes, " It's inspiring to work on
a packaging solution that is so
focused on sustainability and
has such clear rules; the creativity has to be in those minute
margins as this is where our advantage lies. I find it motivating
to think of my designs of going
from such a small scale, where
a fraction of a millimeter can
make a difference, then to mass
production, then to the very
personal interaction of a person
drinking from a bottle of water...
which is then recycled. It's an
interesting journey. "

When is a tether required?
In May 2019, the EU formally approved
legislation aimed at reducing the use of
single-use plastics as part of the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular
Economy. The Single-Use Plastics directive, or SUP as it is known, defines a
single-use plastic product as a product
made 'wholly or partly from plastic and
that is not conceived, designed or placed
on the market to accomplish, within its
life span, multiple trips or rotations by being returned to the producer for refill or

re-used for the same purpose for which
it was conceived'. It was adopted with the
aim of preventing and tackling marine litter by, among other things, phasing out
unnecessary single-use plastics, introducing economic incentives to reduce
consumption and transition to reusable
systems, and establishing high collection
rates and extended producer responsibility schemes (EPR).
Article 6 of the directive states that
Member States must ensure that sin-

gle-use plastic products listed in Part
C of the Annex that have caps and lids
made of plastic may be placed on the
market 'only if the caps and lids remain
attached to the containers during the
products' intended use stage'. Specifically, this refers to all beverage bottles and
composite packaging, i.e. cartons, with a
capacity of up to three litres. All EU member states are required to implement this
directive into their national legislation by
July 2024 at the latest.

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Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021

Contents
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - Cover1
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - Cover2
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - Contents
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 4
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 5
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 6
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 7
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 8
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 9
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 10
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 11
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 12
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 13
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 14
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 15
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 16
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 17
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 18
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 19
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 20
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 21
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 22
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 23
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 24
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 25
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 26
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 27
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 28
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 29
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 30
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 31
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 32
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 33
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - 34
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - Cover3
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2021 - Cover4
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