Keep a lid on it

30 July 2019

Innovations in closures and caps give brand-owners an opportunity to differentiate through convenience and style – and helps packaging manufacturers stay ahead of the game. With lightweighting and clever design playing key roles in the more visible role of closures and caps, Packaging Today speaks to players across the value chain to learn more.

Brand-owners often say that they were not prepared for how much time their packaging was going to take up; the dream is always about the product, the social media following, the customers – probably even the design of the packaging is part of the initial storytelling. But the lid? That isn’t really something that people dream about.

But where would we be without it? And what added value can innovative closures offer to consumers and the circular economy?

The trend for convenience has been growing across FMCG categories for many years and shows no sign of slowing down. While consumers are increasingly focused on being responsible, they largely want the brands they choose to be responsible as opposed to themselves going without convenience. For the latest launch from hugely successful Swedish fruit cider brand Kopperberg, both the convenience trend and a beverage category-specific trend have been ticked.

Kopparberg has launched new brand drink concept Balans, with the headline product Balans Aqua Spritz. Rob Salvesen, head of marketing at Kopparberg, says, “We know that people see social occasions where they might want to have a drink as an important part of their lives, but often drinks choices can be limiting. Balans Aqua Spritz is for people who want to enjoy the pleasures of life without compromise. Move aside vodka, lime and soda... Balans is refreshing, light in taste, and is currently the lowest calorie 4% ABV drink of its kind available in its current 250ml serve.”

The Balans brand was developed by Kopparberg in partnership with UK brand agency Elmwood and it “signals the UK arrival of a growing US trend towards alcoholic sparkling seltzers”, says Salvesen. An ‘alcohol-infused sparkling water with a hint of natural fruit taste’, Balans is low calorie and low sugar, and ‘inspired by the growing trend for health, fitness and well-being’. Elmwood designer Tim Wood, who developed the Balans brand design, says, “Elmwood worked on the brand world, packaging and tone of voice for the Balans brand, with the brief to appeal to a balance-seeing audience who do their best to not let the demand of life get in the way of having fun. There’s so much social pressure for people to look good and feel good; Balans in a drink that means our audience can literally balance pleasure and sociability with their personal wellness goals.”

Available in single serve 250ml cans with ring pulls, Balans Aqua Spritz has two flavours currently – Mandarin and Lime and is available in ASDA and The practicality of the ring pull can is ideally suited to the convenience element of the product, especially as it is targeted to sociable drinking with friends and can be easily recycled in standard recycling collections. Wood continues, “The Balans logo represents two things coming together – be that alcohol and sparkling water or a busy lifestyle and time to relax. The point where the two shapes overlap is the perfect moment of equilibrium. This sits against a backdrop of variant coloured sky. The brand pairs an elegant, yet friendly script with a sans serif type to add a personal feel, whilst an endorsement of quality ‘From the makers of Kopparberg’ sits at the base.”


Light yet strong
For global packaging manufacturer RETAL, the closures issue is a chance to add an extra level of responsibility to its offering, with its multinational household-name customers increasingly demanding solutions that support their CSR targets. The company showcased its new high-grip closure design at BrauBeviale last year, which offers more options for plastic reduction in beverage packaging. RETAL’s high-grip closure is 19.85mm, the same height as a standard closure, but just 2.45g, saving around 1.3g of weight per bottle compared with standard bottles, thanks to the unique manufacture of the closures that allows for deeper grooves to distribute the weight across a taller surface area.

The innovative design is more sustainable as it uses less plastic, is easy to grip and open, and retains rigidity due to the height. Dalia Petrauskaite, RETAL’s closures director, says, “We worked closely with the market-leading bottle-filling company to create a functional solution that delivers high market acceptance thanks to its consumer-friendly attributes such as being easy to open and grip. Our High Grip closures offer many unique advantages; light yet strong, it also allows co-packers to reuse their existing stacking trays that are for standard 1810 specifications, making the High Grip even more eco-friendly.”

For the wine industry, where closures have typically been corks with a thin foil wrapper for decades, the industry shake-up of the screw-top wine bottle has not always been perceived with the right value proposition, even though it is far more practical for consumers and is more easily recyclable. For disruptive wine brand Garcon Wines, the 100% rPET flat wine bottle of which has been shaking up a storm across the wine, packaging and gifting sectors, its choice of plastic screw cap is another choice that’s got people talking.

Freelance packaging consultant Sarah Greenwood worked with the Garcon Wines team to develop the multi-award-winning flat wine bottles. Speaking about how its closures were agreed on, she says, “I act as a materials and packaging advisor to Garcon Wines. When looking at options for the closures, my recommendation was to go for a plastic screw-cap instead of the traditional aluminium capsule. This is because the aluminium cap and collar remaining on the bottle after opening has to be removed before recycling otherwise the recyclate can become contaminated. The PP/PE used to make the plastic cap are easily separated from the PET during the recycling process using flotation without having to be separated first.”

Greenwood adds how her latest project is also seeing progressive discussion regarding the role of packaging in the circular economy, saying, “I’m excited to be working on the UKRI-funded Plastics:Redefining Single-Use run by the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield. There is so much energy going into solving the plastics waste problem at the moment. It’s great to be a part of it.”

So try telling the recycling industry that closures are invisible, or a group of friends on a picnic with a bottle of wine but no corkscrew that the wrong closure for the situation is not really, really annoying. While we all want to find a balance between eco-responsibility and convenience, it makes more sense for the manufacturing to be responsible in the first place rather than relying on the consumer doing the right thing. Imagine if you could only buy bottled water with closures that are connected to the bottle and so reduce contamination in recycling? The recycling revolution of aluminium cans since the wide-mouth ‘stay tab’ ring pull closure was widely adopted in the late 1990s is set to get a new lid on the block, which can only be good news.



 Global caps and closures market 2019 industry analysis

The primary function of caps and closures is to keep the container closed and the contents contained for the specified shelf life. In addition, it provides a barrier to dirt, moisture and oxygen, and keeps the product secure from undesired premature opening. Caps and closures are mainly used in the packaging industry to preserve products to extend their shelf life. The caps and closures industry uses different types of material to construct suitable product packaging, such as plastics, metals, rubber and paperboard, among others.

The global industry is expected to grow over the forecast period on account of high demand from food and beverages, and chemical industries. Caps and closures are used for preserving products and extending their life. Thus, the global caps and closures market is expected to grow significantly. Increasing caps and closures applications in home-care products and cosmetics industries is further expected to augment global market growth. Increasing applications in the pharmaceutical industry is expected to further fuel market growth. Increasing childcare products demand is also expected to have a positive impact on the market.

Plastics caps and closures are expected to grow at a faster rate than metal caps over the forecast period owing to superior properties and low cost. Within metal caps, tin and aluminium are expected to witness significant growth. Extensive R&D in markets such as paper and rubber are further expected to augment global market growth in the next six years. Increasing concerns regarding biodegradability and carcinogenicity of plastics is expected to hinder the market growth over the forecast period. Stringent regulatory policies by agencies such as the US EPA, REACH and European Commission regarding plastics usage are expected to further pose challenges to the market growth.

Source: ‘Caps and Closures Market 2019 Global Analysis, Growth and Opportunities Research Report Forecasting 2025’, Wiseguy Research Consultants

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