Sustainability Stretches to Closures

Sustainability Stretches to Closures

While the origins of sustainable packaging probably stem, at least in part, from efforts at recycling, the concept has expanded to reach across all phases of packaging today.  Recycling and the ability to re-use material is still a big part of creating a sustainable process, but machinery, packages and even closures now see sustainability as a way to connect with a customer or consumer.

A recent article in Beverage World noted that beverage closures existed initially for purely functional purposes, preventing spillage and spoilage.  While the functional purposes still apply, the caps and closures are now used to connect with the customer as well, using closures for protection or convenience.  Given that sustainability has been a major topic of interest in the packaging industry, it is no surprise that closure companies are looking for ways to make the caps a more green product.

The Beverage World article offers several examples of ongoing projects including closures with zero carbon footprints, completely biodegradable closures and the newest in lightweight closures to reduce material use and waste.  These new innovations in closures offer packagers another way to reduce their own carbon footprint and cut back on material, waste and unnecessary production and shipping costs as well.  

Of course, new and innovative caps may require new and innovative capping machines.  A closure that offers a zero carbon footprint means little if that same closure requires an inefficient or expenisive packaging machine to run production.  In addition, if the caps create problems for shipping companies, efficiency and sustainability can be compromised.  As new caps and closures enter the market, packaging machinery manufacturers need to find a sustainable way to match those closures up to already existing bottles and containers as well as the new bottles and containers that may at times accompany the closures.  As we have previously discussed, truly sustainable packaging will require a team effort, with the team comprised of the bottle manufacturer, packaging machine manufacturer, packager, shipper and a great many other players.  

However, the focus on sustainability for components such as the closure show that the industry and its suppliers are heading in the right direction.  The consumer trend toward greener packaging and the seemingly worldwide trend toward an awareness of the limits of our materials have forced the industry to find new solutions.  Sustainable packaging will not happen overnight, nor will it happen for all packagers at one time.  But starting the process with the packagers' suppliers means each project will begin on the right foot.

For the complete article on closures by Andrew Kaplan, please visit Beverage World.