Consumers have recently noticed a strange trend in plastic beverage bottles: the cap of some bottles can no longer be completely unscrewed as it used to be, but instead remains attached. That's not always practical. If you want to drink straight from the bottle, you have to maneuver around the cap. Many customers are therefore asking themselves: Why this new closure?
The background is an EU directive for more environmental protection. This stipulates that PET bottles up to 3 liters may in future only be sold with such closures. This is to ensure that the lids are not lost and end up as garbage, but are also recycled. The EU member states must therefore ensure that the plastic bottles, whose closures and lids are also made of plastic, "are only placed on the market if these closures and lids remain attached to the containers during the intended use of the product," it says in Article 6 of the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.
The rule will not take effect until July 3, 2024, but some companies are already changing their caps. Industry heavyweight Coca-Cola has already introduced some of the new lids in Germany. "In order to be ready on time and not to interrupt production at all locations at the same time, we have drawn up a plan for our plants," explains Coca-Cola manager Christine Bergmann on the company's website. The first production plant in Dorsten was converted in autumn 2021, followed by the plants in Mannheim and Mönchengladbach in the spring of this year. A total of almost two dozen production facilities at eleven locations would be converted by March 2024.
Coca-Cola reassures customers who are unfamiliar with the new lids that it is a matter of getting used to. After all, the changeover in beverage cans from tear-off tabs to fixed closures at the beginning of the 1990s was also survived. "I can still remember very well how big the discussion was - and today nobody talks about it anymore," says Coca-Cola sustainability manager Axel Bachmann.
Incidentally, the loose-lid ban is part of a larger package of EU measures to avoid plastic waste. The single-use plastics directive also stipulates that the industry uses less plastic and more recycled plastic for new packaging. From 2025, disposable beverage bottles must consist of at least 25 percent recycled material. Other disposable products such as plastic drinking straws or certain plastic bags are already completely banned.
Sources: EU Directive / Federal Environment Agency / Coca-Cola