In the beginning it was the tabs on cans: consumers had a propensity to throw them on the ground once opened, and so in 1989 a U.S. law, soon implemented worldwide (thanks in part to the globalization of the beverage market) introduced ‘retractable’ ones.
Then came the turn of the infamous six-packs: those plastic rings that held the cans together in six-packs and had turned into deadly traps for sea turtles, which would get caught in them and strangle themselves. In 1994 Congress ruled that they had to be made of biodegradable plastic, and for the past few years a Danish brewer has replaced them with glue dots.
In short: beverages in cans or bottles have always brought with them an environmental problem multiplied exponentially by the obscure and unpredictable fate of the closures, caps or liguettes that they were. Until now, the issue of plastic bottle caps seemed without solution, which, in a country like Italy where an inordinate amount of mineral water is consumed, borders on an emergency.
For some time now, plastic bottles with hooked caps, that is, caps that do not come off once unscrewed or lifted, have begun to circulate. The reason is simple: in 2024, the EU Directive (2019/904) will come into force, which stipulates that all PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles under 3 liters must mandatorily be equipped with so-called tethered caps, i.e., caps that are hooked onto the bottle.
It is one of the most revolutionary decisions for everyday life in the battle for environmental protection since the banning of plastic plates, cups and cutlery, cotton buds and straws. It may not be the turning point in the fight against microplastics, but still a small step forward.