A Closure for the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive
6/17/2024 New Creations Machinery Change Innovative Processes Article

A Closure for the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive

Numerous liquids are offered in bag-in-box packaging. The bags containing the liquids are placed in rigid boxes or cartons and are dispensed via taps installed on the bags. With "Vitop Uno", Smurfit Kappa has now launched a closure with integrated tamper protection onto the market for the first time.

Bag-in-box pouch with sustainable tap. Smurfit Kappa and Vitop Italy have launched a new sustainable tap for bag-in-box pouches.
Wine, milk, fruit juices, edible oils, syrups and concentrates: the list of liquids stored in plastic bags is long. Dispensing taps are required for problem-free dispensing, which must comply with various rules and regulations. The European Union and the German health authorities have issued a package of regulations for direct contact with food, including preventing air from entering the containers during dispensing. The EU also has a directive on single-use plastics, a modified version of which will come into force this summer.
Sustainable tap for bag-in-box-packaging. The Vitop Uno tap has an anti-tampering device on the bag that does not need to be removed by the consumer.

Protection Against Tampering

To meet these requirements, Smurfit Kappa has added the Vitop Uno closure to its range of taps. The new polypropylene solution, patented in the USA and Europe, incorporates an anti-tampering feature. To comply with the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive, consumers are not required to remove it. According to the provisions of the directive, which will apply from July 2024, containers with a capacity of up to three liters will only be approved if the caps and lids remain on the container during the intended period of use. As a result of the new directive, the company intends to replace the majority of the original Vitop Original and other closures that do not have the new solution. There is a transitional period for products already in production.

The Closure Remains Integrated

As no minimum plastic content is required to be classified as single-use plastic and there is no exemption for bio-based and biodegradable plastics, Smurfit Kappa had to develop an integrated solution for the existing containers. The Vitop Uno now has two side flaps that are not removed from the container even after it has been opened. The closure is deactivated on first use, but remains integrated and does not affect the use of the bag-in-box packaging, according to the Irish company.

The fixed connection eliminates the risk of environmentally harmful disposal, as is the case with removable closures. The fixed box and the bag can be separated from each other and fed into the respective recycling processes. With the new closure, it is possible to switch completely to monomaterial. This means it can be recycled in the flexible polyethylene cycle, explains Didier Pontcharraud, CEO of Vitop.

High Demand for Recycling Solution

"The recycling of bag-in-boxes is one of the most sought-after solutions by our customers today," says Thierry Minaud, CEO of Smurfit Kappa Bag-in-Box. The aim is to offer customers a sustainable solution that enables recycling in large quantities in various countries. Following an initial test phase with the new solution last year in France, Spain and Sweden, Smurfit Kappa launched sales throughout Europe and also in Germany in the spring. According to the company, some of the largest wine bottlers are among its customers in Germany. Demand is already noticeable, as customers increasingly want more sustainability.