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Interview: Take first mover advantage of tethered closures opportunity, hints Husky
Source:Adsale Plastics Network     Editor:VC    Date:19.Oct.2021

Adsale Plastics Network interviewed an industry expert on production of tethered closures not long ago. To further explore the trends and technologies, we also talked to Michael White, Director, Business Development, Closures at Husky Injection Molding Systems.


When commenting on progress of the switch to tethered closures in the EU, where requires all single-use plastic beverage container closures must be attached to the containers from July 2024, Michael White described the situation as “proceeding as expected”.


“As you can imagine, there are a lot of decisions and efforts that need to be made when implementing such an evolutionary change. The progress of the switch is proceeding as expected,” he told Adsale Plastics Network. “That is, the big wave of conversion is yet to occur.”


“Implementing the wrong (inferior/poorly performing) tethering solution can have significant negative impact on the brand’s performance in terms of lower sales. Brand owners realize that they must get it right the first time,” he continued. 


Brand owners need to consider many factors, and the decisions take time to evaluate as the stakes are high. Therefore, he expects this wave to be fully underway by mid-2022 and to sustain through 2023.


South Australia has recently passed the legislation of its historic ban on single-use plastic products, with drinking straws, stirrers and cutlery to be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution across the state. Other countries like Canada will soon pass similar legislation.


“We believe that the EU is the first domino to fall. We expect similar mandates on tethering in other geographies as the European legislation deadline nears,” said Michael White. 


According to his observation, global brands will look to incorporate tethering solution beyond Europe, so as to simplify SKU management and supply chains as well as to minimize fragmentation.


Indeed, Husky has already received orders from Southeast Asia and inquiries from other continents as brand owners watch how the legislation plays out.

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Brand owners need to consider many factors when adopting tethering technology for closures.

Talking points and differentiation from competitors


While it is well known that tethered closures are superior to conventional closures in sustainability as the risk of having the cap littered into the natural environment is significantly reduced, Michael White also mentioned about the opportunities of higher product differentiation and better consumer experience.


“In addition to the positive sustainability message tethering offers, as this closure feature is in its infancy, brand owners that adopt this technology early have a first mover advantage to capture share due to its novelty,” he remarked. “This is especially true in geographies where tethering has not yet been mandated.”


Tethering solution provides additional talking points on sustainability and can be leveraged to further differentiate from competitive offerings.


Depending upon the tethering technology chosen, the consumer experience can also be enhanced. Using technology that can secure the shell in position, a better drinking experience is assured by preventing the cap from swinging around and interfering with the consumer face.


“By securing the closure to the bottle, the consumer is also ensured that the closure will not go missing during the life of the product. This provides peace of mind both from a sustainability and hygienic perspective,” said Michael White. 


Michael White, Director, Business Development, Closures at Husky Injection Molding Systems.

Critical factors affecting requirements of design


Each beverage type has a variety of industry standard neck finishes. Michael White reminded that each neck finish presents its own set of challenges in terms of the required tethered solution.


In particular, several factors need to be considered when developing a new tethered closure for a specific neck finish. As he said, some considerations must be given to neck height, neck diameter, support ledge diameter, industry standard/custom neck finish, carbonated/non-carbonated beverage type (venting and retention requirements), among others.


“The basic principle of having a hook preloaded against a tab on the tamper evident band to secure the shell in place remains the same regardless of neck finish. However, there will be minor tweaks required depending upon the specific neck finish design,” he explained.


In addition, the consumer experience (including intuitiveness) needs to be paramount. “If the consumer experience is poor, this can have a negative impact on your brand image. Any negativity surrounding the brand can result in reduced sales. Reduced sales equals reduced market share,” he emphasized. 


Advantages of molded-in bridge approach via injection molding


Tethered closures can be molded either by injection molding or compression molding or injection molding.


Injection molding involves the injection of melted resin into a mold at higher pressure using an injection molding machine. Compression involves the compression of a glob of melted resin by a core on a rotary wheel.


A critical feature that indicates whether a closure has been tampered with when capped on the bottle is the tamper evident band. It can be formed in a single step during the injection stage (injection molding) or as a secondary step after molding (compression molding).


Michael White believes that the molded-in bridge approach via injection molding offers the most design freedom, thereby allowing more sophisticated tethering options for brand owners.


It is because more complicated geometry can be incorporated into the closure design as the features are easily molded by the slides (an injection mold feature) and can easily be de-molded.


When adopting the molded in bridge approach, the closure is ejected from the mold and ready for the capping line. “Since no post mold operations are required, there are additional benefits, including smaller production cell footprint and reduced capital investment as no post mold downstream equipment is required,” he added.

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Molded-in bridge approach. 

Dedicated system and solutions


For tethered closures production, Husky’s offering span both the technology and the application. The company’s HyCAP system is an injection molding platform for closures with high performance and low energy consumption.


One of the special features of HyCAP is the front mounted cavities. Debris within the source material can block gates and cause hot runner imbalance. The front mounted cavities allow quick access to any cavity position without requiring a full latch-over, ensuring part quality and uptime.


Besides, a simple graphical operator interface is incorporated into the system, and operator can quickly access all critical parameters directly from the home screen. With the Advantage+Elite service, real time monitoring and predictive performance deterioration can be achieved via remote connectivity.


Husky has also developed a portfolio of tethered solutions that are new and compatible with industry standard neck finishes. When a custom neck finish is required, the company can copy and paste many of its tethering features to comply with the closure design.


In addition to beverage packaging, Husky is also expanding tethered closure systems into adjacent markets such as pouch and carton packaging.

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HyCAP system from Husky is a high performance injection molding platform for closures.

Read more: 

Interview: SACMI’s top tips for smooth transition to tethered cap production



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