The green transition means a better society, yet it also means regulatory obligations. This is the challenge facing converters and bottlers throughout Europe, as they seek to comply with EU Directive 2019/904. The latter requires, among other things, they adopt caps that meet the tethered standard (i.e. caps must remain attached to the bottle after opening). This move is designed to reduce the risk of dispersal into the environment and favor the establishment of proper recycling chains.
The world’s leading provider of cap manufacturing technology, SACMI has developed effective responses to these regulatory changes several years ahead of the deadline: this puts it in a position to offer customers complete solutions and offer close support during the transition.
Profitability and standardization are the two key concepts here. The former concerns the competitiveness of the solutions. The second regards the ease with which producers can make the technological switch to more environmentally-friendly production while still maximizing the consumer experience, containing investment costs and streamlining integration of new solutions on the standard machine range.
This far-reaching, complex topic focuses on effective management of raw materials to reduce the consumption of virgin resins and promote proper cap-container recycling for food-grade use. Without, of course, forgetting the artificial vision systems and advanced controls that significantly boost efficiency, reduce waste and, above all, improve and simplify process adjustments.
Alongside these innovations, SACMI will also be showcasing the progress stemming from its R&D into new biocompatible materials.
All the latest soon to be showcased at the Drinktec fair in Munich (Messe München, Messegelände, 12-16 September 2022)
Learn more on the SACMI website ➤ SACMI@drinktec
Re-duce. This is the first pillar of the 3Rs approach (re-duce, re-use, re-cycle). At SACMI, reduced consumption of virgin resins is being achieved by developing integrated cap-preform solutions that have, over the last 15 years, reduced weight, performance remaining equal, by 50% or more.
With over 1,000 neck-cap designs delivered to customers worldwide, the SACMI Laboratory has more than 20 years’ experience in the sector and has the skills to drive every aspect of innovation (design, lightweighting, new standards). More specifically, SACMI has honed lightweight standards to offer customers certified, high-performance solutions. Additionally, cap and preform design services go hand-in-hand with a complete range of stretch-blow technologies (SmartBlo by SACMI Beverage) that efficiently form lightweight preforms while ensuring top-notch quality and performance.
Yet that’s not all. EU Directive 2019/904, already implemented by most European countries, lays out a strict roadmap for an industry-wide transition to the new tethered standard.
As a leading international provider of cap production lines, SACMI’s initial response was to come up with the most efficient, affordable way to help its customers ‘go tethered’. The first driver concerns the process (i.e. the ability to create the tethered tamper-evident band, not inside the mold but in post-processing, using a cutting machine; this solution can be seamlessly combined with SACMI compression technology, yet is also an interesting prospect for customers who make caps with other molding technologies.
By combining its comprehensive range of TE band slitting-folding machines (SFM) with innovative control devices such as the PFMC (pull force machine), which checks for proper cut performance (this unit can also be used in conjunction with the new CVS Cut vision system), SACMI helps customers adapt to the new standard immediately, and do so with limited investment outlay while ensuring quality and a perfect consumer experience.
On the cap development front, customers can make full use of the SACMI Lab’s advanced consultancy services to identify the most suitable response to their production needs.
On the tethered side, instead, three slitting configurations have been developed: Delta upside down, Delta Hinged 2 and This cap hold open®, all available for the widest variety of necks on the market. Note also that all the new ready-to-market, high-performance, low-weight solutions - such as the new 26 mm caps for CSD and water - are already available in the new tethered standard.
In short: whatever the neck type, SACMI already has just the right lightweight + tethered solution to suit it.
Re-use. The Rigid Packaging Laboratory and the SACMI Beverage Packaging Center provide customers with close support from design to the finished product... and provide the best technology to make it. Customers can also count on ‘pellet to pallet’ solutions: certified and approved by the industry’s key global players, these cover everything from raw material processing to the full, labeled container.
Developing a returnable PET supply chain necessarily focuses on good control of the filling and labeling stages. It involves the development of specific applications that aid recovery and cleaning of the container, which must be separated from the label at the end of its life-cycle.
The SACMI Beverage range of labeling machines features a specially developed spot-gluing system that applies the adhesive on the label and not the container: this minimizes glue use and aids label-container separation during recycling. With the REFPET project, SACMI also proposes special ‘washable glues’ that are, in practice, soda-soluble at low temperatures. This solution is particularly suitable for returnable PET as high washing temperatures can damage the containers.
Already marketed by SACMI - which can, on request, also supply the relative glues - this solution involves installation of the special Speed Coat kit on the labelling machine. Starting with an analysis of container geometry, the kit limits glue application to a few well-defined points, ensuring perfect adhesion yet also easy detachment for recycling-reuse purposes.
Furthermore, with wrap-around labels the glue can be applied exclusively to their overlapping edges; when recycled, they’re separated by a cutting tool (also supplied by SACMI), thus eliminating all related container-cleaning problems.
Re-cycle. Alongside efforts to make products ‘returnable’, resin recycling for food-grade use is becoming an increasingly important part of the green transition. First applied to PET - the recyclable resin par excellence - such recycling now involves the entire cap-container system. SACMI has responded to this challenge by developing a set of solutions that, on the standard machine range, help customers go down the recycle path.
For several years now, SACMI has been adapting its IPS preform press range to process up to 100% rPET and up to 50% PET in flake form. One of the most recent developments, which SACMI is to present at the Munich fair, concerns the possibility of raising this latter percentage to 70-75% by making the entire process more linear (i.e. optimal management of flake and granule mixes without having to resort to two distinct processing hoppers).
SACMI also offers the opportunity - facilitated by the trend towards the new tethered standard - to establish a ‘re-use’ supply chain for caps too. This stems from the outstanding characteristics of SACMI compression technology, which functions at lower temperatures and ‘intrinsically’ makes it easier to use recycled HDPE to produce good quality caps for food use.
Advanced controls & Computer Vision. Saving on raw materials and aiding their recycling-reuse is not the only approach SACMI takes to ensure its customers can count on profitable green packaging. Advanced controls, installed directly on the machines, and in-line vision systems ensure proactive control of any deviations from set process parameters, which can generate waste and cause both economic and reputational damage. Merging these advanced inspection and control systems significantly increases the quality and effectiveness of the line; this goes hand in hand with better process control and can, therefore, drastically reduce potentially faulty cap and preform batches.
Biopolymers. Already available on all latest-generation SACMI machines - with exciting opportunities for existing lines too - the above systems run in parallel with constant research into and development of new biocompatible materials, in particular cellulose-based materials: a field in which SACMI leads the way with advanced prototypes, setting the stage for a new revolution in the industry.
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