Sidel is revealing the results of a survey conducted to understand consumer perceptions of tethered caps, which will become a requirement for EU Member States from July 2024 as part of the Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUPD).
Although the 3,200 European survey participants generally agreed tethered caps contribute to a greener perception of plastic bottles, they indicated caps should mainly guarantee product safety and user-friendliness.
The survey results showed 87 percent of participants agree that plastic pollution harms the environment and that caps are a part of the issue.
Meanwhile, 67 percent of consumers are convinced that changing their own waste sorting and reduction behavior can make a difference for a greener environment.
Interestingly, 45 percent realize tethered caps reduce the risk of cap loss because they remain attached to the bottle, keeping them from getting dirty or lost.
However, only a minority of respondents (26 percent) believe tethered caps will actually help reduce plastic littering.
“Consumers have a very practical attitude toward bottle closures,” says Simone Pisani, director for portfolio value creation at Sidel.
“As we can see, they are primarily concerned about product safety and user-friendliness, seeking evidence to tell whether the cap has been opened or not before they use the beverage or how easily they can close it.”
“Additionally, cap tightness is crucial to avoid unnecessary spills.”
Convenience is king
According to the results, the cap’s usability and how easily it can be opened and the liquid poured are key consumer concerns.
Behind usability came cap attractiveness, child safety and how easily the bottle and cap can be recycled.
“This perception may change in the future once consumers become more conscious of the environmental benefits tethered caps provide,” notes Pisani.
Cap type preferences
During the survey, consumers were also asked to compare existing screw caps with some tethered cap prototypes – snap-on and tethered screw caps, which will be introduced on the EU market – and also with existing sport caps.
The survey results demonstrated there is no solution satisfying all needs. Consumers’ first impression of snap-on caps is that the design is “quite disruptive.” However, they accepted they are easy to open with one hand.
Tethered screw caps were found to interfere with the lips and nose while drinking. Meanwhile, sport caps were found to be difficult to open while their design makes it difficult to pour the product.
“Nevertheless, tethered screw caps, snap-on caps and sport caps show higher purchase intention than existing screw caps, since their opening is as easy and smooth as for the current solutions,” explains Pisani.
“Snap-on caps are particularly appreciated because they can be opened with just one hand.”
“Also, they are perceived as an environmental improvement. But ultimately, consumers appreciate that the tethered caps remain connected to the bottle, as this keeps them cleaner and reduces the chances of loss.”
Impending EU SUPD
The EU passed a directive in 2019 on single-use plastic consumption, aiming to reduce the volume and impact of certain plastic products on the environment and promote the transition to a circular economy.
The SUPD sets clear targets to implement mandatory tethered caps for all beverage containers up to 3 L by 2024, a minimum of 25 percent recycled PET content in plastic containers, and a collection rate of 77 percent for all single-use plastic beverage containers by 2025.
Also hot on the tethered caps trail are Elopak, SIG and Tetra Pak, who have all recently introduced new solutions.
Edited by Joshua Poole
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