Tethered caps – closures that stay connected to the bottle when opened and used – will become an everyday part of life for consumers in the EU starting in July 2024.

Sidel recently carried out a survey with the aim of getting a better understanding of consumers’ environmental perceptions, their requirements for closures in general, and their opinions about these new tethered caps.

The survey found that although participants agree that tethered caps contribute to a greener perception of plastic bottles, a cap should mainly guarantee product safety and user-friendliness.

From June to September 2020, more than 3,200 adult Europeans participated in a survey on tethered caps performed by Ales Research on behalf of Sidel.

87% of participants said that plastic pollution harms the environment and that caps are a part of this. Meanwhile, 67% of consumers were convinced that changing their own behaviour in terms of waste sorting and reduction can make a difference for a greener environment.

Interestingly, 45% of panelists realised tethered caps reduce the risk of cap loss because they remain attached to the bottle, therefore keeping them from getting dirty or lost. However, only a minority of respondents (26%) believed that tethered caps will really help reduce plastic littering.

“Consumers have a very practical attitude towards bottle closures. We can see that they are primarily concerned about product safety and user-friendliness, seeking evidence to tell whether the cap has been opened or not before they use the beverage or how easily they can close it. Additionally, cap tightness is crucial to avoid unnecessary spills,” says Simone Pisani, director for portfolio value creation at Sidel.

According to the results, the usability of the cap itself, i.e. how easily the cap can be opened, how easy it is to pour from or drink from the bottle, comes immediately after in terms of importance. And the last preference criteria are cap attractiveness, child safety and how easily the bottle and cap can be recycled.  “This perception may change in the future once consumers become more conscious of the environmental benefits tethered caps provide,” comments Simone.

During the survey, consumers were also asked to compare existing screw caps with some tethered cap prototypes – snap-on and tethered screw caps, which are going to be introduced on the EU market – and also with existing sport caps.

The survey results claim to show that there is no solution that satisfies all needs: consumers’ first impression of snap-on caps was that the design is quite disruptive, and they were surprised about the initial experience. 

Once they got used to it, they appreciated that it was very easy to open with one hand. Tethered screw caps were found to interfere with the lips and nose while drinking. Sport caps, meanwhile, were perceived to be difficult to open, and their design was thought to make it naturally difficult to pour the product into a cup or glass.