ROSEMONT, ILL. — In our daily lives, we always want more from the products we use, and dispensing taps and fitments can be a key part of that equation.
That was a key them presented by Billi Curtin, global product manager with ITW Fastex Filtration, who addressed dispensing taps and fitments during a session at Plastics Caps & Closures 2014, held in Rosemont.
“We want our stuff to do more stuff,” Curtin told attendees at Plastics News' fourth annual event. “We want more functionality and less impact on the environment.”
Curtin said the industry today is focused on developing caps and fitments that are very functional. These closures must be resealable, control the oxygen transmission and flow rate of a product and feature dosing capability.
ITW Fastex Filtration's product line includes gravity-fed taps with high flow rates and push-button taps that are aseptic capable for low- and high-acid content products. The company also offers an aseptic dispensing valve used in institutional dispensing.
Curtin added that the closures segment is closely aligned to the flexible packaging sector and as such, faces many of the same market drivers.
“First and foremost, we want any of our closures to protect the contents of the package,” she said. “We want to control things like oxygen transmission, moisture transmission and light to eliminate product spoilage. We want expanded functionality. We want convenience for the customer. We want them to like our products and we want them to come back.”
Companies also are challenged with the task of being green.
“We want our dispensers and fitments to be sustainable to reduce our carbon footprint,” Curtin pointed out.
Challenges that the segment is facing today include customer acceptance, closureless packaging options, machinery limitations, increasing production costs and liability potential.
When it comes to liability potential, Curtin said a key concern is aseptic-capable fitments.
The aseptic packaging market in the United States has been driven by the cost associated with it, with companies hesitant to make the investment in the machinery required for the process. Curtin said that is a trend that could slowly change in this country.
The closure segment also faces a negative public perception of plastics, a challenge it must learn to overcome.
“We also face low participation rates in recycling,” Curtin noted. “Seventy-two percent of all rigid containers still end up in a landfill even though we have municipal recycling facilities.”
And one of the biggest challenges facing the closure segment today is product commoditization.
“Someone is always going to come along and make a part cheaper than you can,” Curtin noted.
Curtin also offered a glimpse of the U.S. caps and closures market, which she said is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2021, with dispensing taps and fitments comprising about 10 to 12 percent of that growth.
“Our estimated gain will come in at about $2 billion by 2021,” she said. “I see a market segment that is going to more than double its size.”
Going forward, Curtin said companies must improve performance, sustainability, labeling and reduced oxygen transmission rates.
As customers look for more of a “wow factor” in their closures and fitments, Curtin said she envisions more complex products.
“We need our caps and fitments to work correctly all of the time,” she said. “We also need to adopt recycling as a lifestyle choice.”