Made from bio-based materials, the cap’s design reduces the amount of plastic used in packaging by combining a body made of sustainably sourced FSC fiber material with a thin top-seal barrier layer, making it recyclable as paper and ocean biodegradable.
Absolut will develop the cap for use on current glass bottles, as an addition to existing cap solutions as well as a possibility for future packaging innovations. The partnership will see several iterations of the cap through prototyping and testing stages in 2022, with plans to share it commercially in 2023.
New R&D territory
While progress has been made across the industry in creating more sustainable alternative packaging formats for bottles, caps and labels are often excluded.
“When looking at new materials and technologies to reimagine our iconic bottle we consider each component in its own right,” Eric Naf, director of packaging development at Absolut, told us.
“Each component, whether it’s the bottle itself, or the cap, has a different impact on the product for both our customers and the production process so are developed at a different pace. Once we’re happy with the changes we’ve made, we then look at how those components work together to create the final product. The reason that caps can sometimes be a secondary focus after the glass or plastic used in a bottle, for example, may be due to consideration for where the most impact can be made.”
The company is already well advanced on its paper bottle project; and is now turning its attention to caps. This, however, is a different challenge: mainly because it is completely new territory, said Naf.
“This means we’re constantly trialling and adjusting our approach. While we use caps every day, changing the material is a significant undertaking that involves looking into everything we know about its features and how we work with our supply chain, as well as the bottling process.
“We are in the early stages of development and prototyping so are currently using our regular barrier liner which is made from EPE (Expanded Polyethylene) – this is separable and recyclable. In the long-term as we move along the prototyping timeline, our ambition is to develop an integrated, bio-based seal.”
Absolut bottles currently use a plastic and metal cap, and so the new cap represents a move to bio-based raw material and a fully circular solution. “This feeds into our wider ambition to create a fully circular business, working with suppliers and partners to ensure that 100% of our packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025,” said Naf.
“We are confident that the fiber cap can offer a scalable solution at a competitive price level once we put it into commercial circulation.”