From “maybe” to “definitely”

PET cap and closure manufacturing system

In 2022, when Jay Hanan, Senior Technical Director of R&D at Origin Materials, approached Ueli Kobel, Director of Packsys Global’s Slitting Division in Rüti, Switzerland, several companies had already rejected his idea of developing a cap made entirely from PET as impractical. From Ueli Kobel, he at least got a “maybe” in response. Now, the PET cap for CSD PET bottles is a reality, having successfully launched at NPE.

Photo top: F.l.t.r.: Bamidele Ali, VP, Corporate Development Origin Materials and Jay Hanan, Senior Technical Director, R&D Origin Materials presenting the PET cap at the Packsys Global booth.

Jay Hanan is well-versed in the caps and closures business, having worked for several years in the industry. However, after joining Origin Materials in 2021, his distance from the closures sector, combined with access to a wide range of materials at the California-based sustainable materials company, allowed him to fully appreciate the design freedom offered by different polymers. This prompted him to question why bottles and caps were only available as two-material solutions instead of making the bottle’s cap from PET as well as the bottle itself.

“We aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before – but we’re doing it differently,” says Hanan about the launch, acknowledging, “But first, we had to find visionary people to make an idea like this work.” He found these visionaries in Rüti, and thus, Origin and Packsys Global formed a strategic cooperation to produce the world’s first commercially scalable PET cap and closure manufacturing system. At the Swiss specialist for slitting and folding of beverage closures Packsys Global, significant energy has been invested into the project, developing tamper-evident solutions for the cap made of PET. The standard equipment used for slitting and folding HDPE caps required only slight modifications to adapt it to PET. Test series at the in-house Krea Lab technology centre were successful, paving the way for the launch of the PET cap at NPE.

The PET cap offers several advantages over other material solutions, not only for markets driven by recycling. “In addition to the simplified recycling that a mono-material solution provides, PET also offers performance advantages over traditional HDPE and PP caps,” explains Bamidele Ali, VP of Corporate Development at Origin. “Besides the lightweight aspect, the higher oxygen barrier of PET makes the material particularly interesting as it can extend the shelf life of the bottled products.”
Beyond the beverage segment for still drinks and CSD, the PET cap could also appeal to industries such as cosmetics.

Ueli Kobel, Business Director of the Packsys Global Slitting Division, highlights another advantage: “HDPE suffers from degradation when re-used multiple times. Changing a closure to the same grade of PET as the container avoids the need to separate the two materials and also solves the degradation issue.”

For the new development, both virgin PET and rPET can be used.

Origin’s high-throughput production system – having surpassed the 100,000 caps mark during trials – aims to produce the world’s first PET caps and closures at a commercial scale and will be adaptable to all common bottle neck finishes.

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