Abor, T-Cask and Duo: in luxury packaging, where sustainability is more than ever at the heart of brands’ strategies, Italian closures leader Tapi is expanding its range of eco-designed products. We spoke with marketing manager Paolo Boratto on the latest solutions.
Last year, you grouped your sustainability initiatives under the banner LEI, or Low Environment Impact. Is this your new CSR signature?
In a way, yes. In Italian, “lei” means “she”, and for us this evokes Mother Earth and reminds us of the need to protect our planet and our resources. This acronym springs from our desire to clearly identify every initiative implemented at Tapi, year after year, and our contribution to worldwide efforts towards sustainability by reducing our global environmental impact.
Is this acronym designed to be a point of reference for your customers?
In terms of sustainability we’re currently focusing on our products, but ultimately on all of our sustainable initiatives, whether it’s substituting fossil fuels with sustainable energy, or reducing water consumption, they will all be “labeled” LEI. As with all markets, and for the past several years, the beverage sector has been undergoing radical change. The health crisis has further accelerated this process: no company or brand can operate without a sustainability policy. At Tapi we’re seeing this on a daily basis as our customers are all looking for more sustainable closure solutions. So it’s in order to meet this demand that we’ve been focusing on eco-design. Today it’s at the heart of our strategy and our R&D budget.
In the context of eco-design, have you been focusing on a specific approach?
We’ve chosen to combine approaches by focusing on sourcing increasingly natural materials, while managing our products’ end of life from a re-use/recycling perspective. For example, our Mekano closures, a Tapi exclusive, are clearly designed to be infinitely reusable for refilling purposes. At the same time, our Abor concept, which has resulted in a range of bio-sourced closures, allows brands to be more eco-friendly, while reconnecting with their origins and their terroir as the closures are made from the residues of their distillation processes. This means that the by-products of their spirits avoid ending up in landfill, and allow brands to tell their very own story. This collection, which works with all types of form and/or finishes for custom premiumization, incorporates at least 50% by-products, combined with polymers and biopolymers, which produces an inert material that’s perfectly suited to contact with alcoholic beverages. Bear in mind that our solutions have to conform with this particular food contact constraint, which is an additional challenge.
Abor isn’t your only collection that reuses byproducts: is your T-Cask line a variation on this concept?
The idea is the same, but in this case we use wood sourced from barrels used for aging spirits, when they’ve come to the end of their life. The wooden stoppers are combined with a natural or synthetic cork base, depending on the option chosen by the customer.
And in an environment where brands like to mix materials on the same closure, we’ve also launched our Duo collection, which focuses on the separability of the product at the end of its life: by simply pressing down, the body of the closure separates from its head, so as to facilitate recycling for the end consumer. Of course all these ranges, like our conventional ranges, are customizable, and notably with 100% sustainable techniques. These include Punching, a new decoration solution for wood that allows us to produce logos and type without additives, via debossing in a press, as well as our Varnishless solution, which produces a varnish-free varnished appearance, by heat-treating the wood.
Your Devin collection is a solution for wine closures: what materials are you using?
Devin is made from plant-based polymers and grape residues, so the carbon footprint is drastically reduced. Visually, their appearance reflects this eco-positioning, with a distinctive dye-free guaranteed color that gives a natural and authentic look.
All of the ranges I’ve mentioned are based on our in-house technologies, NEOS and Pure, and offer the same technical and aesthetic performances as conventional technologies using petro-sourced raw materials.
How are these ranges being received in the current market?
Frankly, our bestseller is still T-Wood, our wood-head, totally customizable closure. But T-Cask is currently enjoying a lot of success: a good many projects are in the pipeline, and some major brands have already adopted it, notably for cognac and Armagnac.
More generally, I think these solutions need a bit more time to gain ground: they require a shift in mentalities towards aesthetics that are perhaps slightly more refined and more minimalist, along with a certain financial investment as compared to conventional solutions (the cost premium is around 20 to 50%). But one thing is for certain: the global drive for improved sustainability isn’t about to stop, and we’ll be right here to support it.