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They want to explain to Poles where the idea for "tethered caps" came from. It evokes extreme emotions

Chcą wyjaśnić Polakom skąd pomysł na "zakrętki na uwięzi". Budzi skrajne emocje

The SUP Directive bans the sale of a number of single-use plastic products for which there are alternatives, such as straws, cutlery, plates, cotton buds and drink stirrers. It introduces the obligation of extended producer responsibility, specifies requirements for the design and labeling of packaging, levels of selective collection indicators as well as the level of recyclate in plastic packaging. However, it has become most famous recently thanks to the "tethered" caps.

What will "tethered caps" give us?

– The extreme emotions of consumers aroused by "tethered" caps are a good opportunity to explain broadly why producers of plastic packaging and beverage producers use such a solution and to put it in a broader perspective in relation to the entire "plastics" directive – says Dariusz Lizak , president of the National Chamber of Commerce, Bottling Industry. The SUP Directive and the PPWR Regulation of the European Parliament of April 24, 2024 propose a new approach to the entire life cycle management system of plastic packaging. This means that the solutions that are introduced must meet broader assumptions in the context of the circular economy and the resulting benefits for the environment and society, he adds.

From July 1, 2024, in accordance with the SUP Act, those who introduce drinks in plastic packaging must apply the so-called "tether" caps, permanently attached to the packaging. The entity introducing packaged beverages is obliged to achieve the levels of separate collection of packaging and packaging waste specified in the Act: from 2025, they must ensure the collection of bottles at a minimum level of 77%, and from 2029, the level of selective collection cannot be lower than 90%. From 2025, PET bottles will have to contain at least 25% recyclate, and in 2030 the level of recyclate cannot be lower than 30%. The challenge then becomes to create a system and design solutions that will help meet ambitious goals. At the moment, after legislative changes, this role will be played by the deposit system being introduced.

Caps properly processed

There are specific reasons behind attaching caps to plastic bottles. Firstly, reducing the number of caps that fall out of the closed loop and often do not end up being recycled. By attaching them to the bottle, there is an increased chance that they will be properly processed in the same collection and recycling stream, together with the PET bottle, increasing the efficiency of the recovered raw material for reprocessing. The current method of selective collection makes it impossible to separate such a small fraction, such as the cap, from the remaining waste contained in yellow bags.

– According to the assumptions of the SUP directive, producers of beverages in plastic packaging should meet one more requirement. Educate the public about changes, ways to effectively recycle and planned further implementations. In the near future, we can expect further solutions that will support societies in meeting EU standards and goals. The work mainly focuses on various types of alternatives that are, on the one hand, more environmentally beneficial and, on the other hand, convenient and user-friendly for consumers, says Dariusz Lizak. We will have to get used to some solutions a little longer, because they will directly affect our daily habits and the reality we have known so far. The most important thing, however, is to remember that they are not created to make consumers' lives miserable, but to work together to care for the environment around us, he sums up.

Obtaining high-quality raw materials for recycling (i.e. post-consumer PET bottles) directly affects the availability of high-quality recyclate from which plastic packaging manufacturers produce their products.

– Ambitious environmental goals set by the European Union affect every market participant, including our industry, which should meet specific requirements to provide our customers with packaging that complies with EU law. Permanently attaching bottle caps is intended to prevent their release into the environment. When recycling PET bottles, the caps are separated and then handed over to recyclers that recycle HDPE or PP. We understand that some changes may be inconvenient for consumers, but we are constantly working on packaging solutions that improve the comfort of using packaging, while minimizing their impact on the environment – sums up Mariusz Musiał, Managing Director of ALPLA in Poland.

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