Feature article

Open-and-shut case: Aluminum beverage can offers liquid-tight reclosability

SipNShut reclosability
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Managing Editor
A reclosable aluminum beverage can meets the practical needs of consumers, beverage brands and beverage can manufacturers.

Reclosable aluminum cans aren’t new. But they have failed to gain widespread adoption on a regional or national scale. SNSTech, LLC plans to change that. The Austin, Texas-based company has developed SipNShut, a reclosable aluminum beverage can that it says meets the practical needs of all stakeholders involved: The reclosable design caters to today’s on-the-go, conscientious consumers; helps beverage brands stand out on the retail shelf; and meshes with the existing production capabilities of beverage can manufacturers.

The patented design of SipNShut features a wide mouth aperture with a sliding function that allows the consumer to easily open and close the can. It uses a standard can shell with a rivet in the center. Attached to the rivet is a triangular metal shutter with a food-safe thermoplastic resin coating that seals the opening of the can. Between the shutter and end panel is a rotating finger lever. The consumer pushes the lever to the left to break the seal of the can. When the consumer pushes the lever back to the right, the lever catches on the shutter and pulls it along to open the mouth of the can. The lever can be moved back to the left, moving the shutter to reclose the can. The opening of the can features a patented air channel to vent into the headspace to ensure smooth liquid flow and drinkability without splattering.

“It’s liquid tight once you open it and reclose it,” says Chris Schorre, chief marketing officer for SNSTech. “So if you tip the can over, if you put it in your backpack or something like that, it’s designed not to leak.”

Competitive advantages

SNSTech says SipNShut accommodates busy, eco-friendly consumers who are looking for portability and sustainability from their beverage packaging. According to a market research study conducted by SNSTech, 60 percent of participants 18 years of age and older preferred reclosable cans, while 70 percent of participants between the ages of 18 and 29 years old indicated a preference for reclosable beverage cans. In addition, given the growing consumer backlash against single-use PET bottles, aluminum cans offer a more sustainable option. They contain about 70 percent recycled content — more than three times the amount in glass or plastic bottles — and are recycled at far higher rates than other beverage container types, according to The Aluminum Association.

SipNShut also helps brands achieve shelf differentiation, boosting brand sales, according to SNSTech: “A lot of convenience store sales are single-unit sales. So the top of the can is a very important piece of marketing real estate for grabbing attention,” Schorre says. “Brands look at this and say, ‘Hey it’s cool that it’s reclosable, but it’s also super cool because it’s attention getting.’ It’s new. It’s something different that is going to make one drink brand stand out from another drink brand. About 70 percent of all beverage decisions are made while someone is standing in the aisle looking at the beverages, so these types of quick impulse influences can have a big impact on brand sales.”

Beverage brands, co-packers and beverage can manufacturers will also appreciate SipNShut because it is based on a standard size 202 shell and nests as tightly as traditional stay-on-tab aluminum beverage cans. That means SipNShut can run on standard filling lines at high speeds. In contrast, many reclosable aluminum beverage cans have bulky plastic tabs. They not only wreak havoc on the recycling stream because the aluminum and plastic need to be separated, but they may require manufacturers to modify their lines or purchase new equipment.  

“We’re trying to bring this to market quickly, and the really good way to do that is to use materials and equipment that are already approved and in place,” says Brendan Coffey, CEO and chief technical officer for SNSTech.

SNSTech plans to bring 10 million units of SipNShut to market based on a pilot line in 2020. Then it will license SipNShut for high-volume production.

 

Learn more about the latest innovations in aluminum can packaging at PACK EXPO Las Vegas from Sept. 23-25 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Register by Aug. 30 to save 70 percent off the registration fee.

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