The Honey Smacks of the packaging industry

Tuesday, 17th September 2019

Did you ever eat Honey Smacks as a kid? My parents probably thought vitamins, no artificial colouring and honey for sweetness made for a healthy breakfast. It took no work to prepare, and I loved it. They didn’t realize its “5 simply ingredients” meant mostly sugar – 55% of it by weight. No wonder I loved it! The same was true for Cap'n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, and any other of our favourites.

We didn’t have Coke at home because my parents knew it was unhealthy. Yet somehow, breakfast cereals containing five times more sugar than Coke had made it onto our breakfast table. That is the blinding efficiency of marketing. And kids make easy targets. 

Every industry uses marketing to play on our biases and shape our purchasing habits. In the beverage packaging industry, Tetra Pak is the Honey Smacks of packaging. They have done a phenomenal job of convincing the public that their packaging is green, sustainable, and 100% recyclable. That is no small feat for composite packaging. Tetra Pak contains different layers of carton, polyethylene and aluminium. But what we see, and feel is environmentally friendly carton. Tetra Pak carton is not recycled, it is downcycled – it can’t be used to make another Tetra Pak carton. Every cycle leads to a loss of quality until it ends up in a landfill or an incinerator. As for the polyethylene and aluminium, these materials can no longer be separated and remain combined. Tetra Pak claims it can be "recycled into panel boards, roof sheets and so on", but this is not a cycle. It is a linear system. The packaging industry generates trillions of packaging units per year. Downcycling is not a sustainable long-term strategy. 

Packaging with high recycling rates should logically have a high percentage of recycled content. Otherwise, it is likely downcycled. Tetra Pak claims they reached 25% recycling rate in 2017, and yet Tetra Pak packaging contains no recycled content. Aluminium cans reached a global recycling rate of 72% in 2017 and contain 70% recycled content. Aluminium scrap is worth around $1,200 per ton and can easily be separated. It also takes 95% less energy to make a can from recycled content than to make one from scratch. It is straightforward, profitable business. Aluminium cans are not waste; they are a resource. Recycling Tetra Pak requires the right systems and technology in place. Access to recycling facilities varies drastically from region to region. Countries such as Vietnam have seen an enormous increase in Tetra Pak consumption, but have no way to recycle it. While Tetra Pak claims about 20% of their packaging in the region was being recycled, local recycling facilities reported to The Guardian that the real figure was closer to 1%. There is also little demand for roof tiles made from recycled Tetra Pak in the region since they cost twice as much as standard roof tiles. The result is billions of discarded Tetra Pak covering Vietnam’s beaches. 

If it were up to the food and beverage industry, we wouldn’t have nutritional labels. The transparency forced by FDA regulations was a necessary response to the devastating health consequences of excessive sugar. Interest in packaging pollution is at an all-time high. Consumers are taking steps to reduce plastic waste, but without transparent information, these steps will go in the wrong direction. Packaging labelling should indicate recycling rates, recycled content present, and whether the materials are infinitely recyclable or downcyclable. Regulations enforcing transparency are necessary to deal with the increasingly devastating effect packaging has on the environment. Smacks v3.edited.pdf


Aluminium cans: the sustainable option for drinks packaging?

Tuesday, 25th June 2019

With canned wine and cold brews increasingly hitting supermarket shelves, is switching to aluminium cans the next step for sustainability? In this Q+A Marcel Arsand, chairman of trade body the Can Makers, explains why cans are enjoying a boost.

Packaging has become a hot topic in recent years as drinks companies look for the best way to promote their products while meeting sustainability goals.  Aluminium beverage cans, in particular, have been seen as a superior choice to other packaging formats – not just because of the extent to which  theyare recycled, but the durability and reusability of the material.Last year, a report from Alupro, a non-profit representing aluminium recycling in the UK, showed that the recycling rate for aluminium drink cans was 72% in 2017, and could be as high as 85% in 2020. Also in 2018, the International Aluminium Institute stated that 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in productive use.

To find out if aluminium cans should be the sustainability material of choice moving forward, we spoke to Marcel Arsand, chairman of the Can Makers, a trade body representing can manufacturers in the UK.

Joe Baker: What sustainability benefits do cans offer over other packaging formats?

Marcel Arsand: Aluminium beverage cans are the most recycled beverage containers in the world, and therefore have numerous  benefits when compared to other packaging.From the consumer’s perspective, they are lightweight, shatterproof, quicker to chill and provide a total light barrier so the taste of their drink isn’t affected. Due to the size, they also provide great portion control, especially for the younger and more health conscious shopper of today.For brand owners and retailers: cans are easily stackable with great cube efficiency, meaning less vehicles on the road and more cans on shelves. They also represent less fees in terms of producer responsibility. For waste managers and re-processors, cans are easy and cheap to be sorted (all you need is an eddy current) and have a high intrinsic value. In fact, in the UK they subsidise the collection and recycling of the other packaging materials.

JB: Can Makers’ mission is to show how metal packaging ‘contributes to the circular economy’ – can you explain what this means exactly?

MA: The old paradigm was about resource efficiency, focusing on light weighting and carbon, but now we are moving towards a true circular model and aluminium cans are very well suited for it. Cans are made from a permanent material and can be recycled forever, meaning they don’t lose quality – there is no ‘downcycling’. Also, it is estimated that 80% of all aluminium ever produced is still in circulation today. Cans contribute to the economy as they have a high intrinsic value: one tonne of baled used aluminium beverage cans is worth around £1,000, and they are easy and cheap to be sorted too.

JB: Can Makers recently merged with the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association – can you explain exactly how this merger will help when it comes to promoting cans as a sustainable option?

MA: By working more closely with the wider metal packaging industry we can provide an even stronger voice for our members and demonstrate why cans are a viable sustainable option for drinks makers, retailers and consumers alike more effectively. We will also be able to better coordinate and share our resources to promote metal as the most sustainable pack format.

JB: Have there been any major changes in the way cans are manufactured/the supply chain to make cans more sustainable? What further changes do you think could be made in the future?

MA: When you produce a pack format that is fit for purpose like an aluminium can it is always a challenge to take it to the next level. But that didn’t stop can makers and the supply chain pushing for more. There are several initiatives looking at reducing water, gas and energy consumption as well as improving the recycling rates across Europe, which are currently 74%, with the aim to hit 90% in a few years. Some companies are also involved in the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative for responsibly produced and sourced aluminium.

JB: With products like ‘canned wine’ trending, do you think that more drinks companies could move towards using cans for their products in the future? What might persuade them to do this?

MA: Absolutely! Wine in a can is just one of the great examples of new categories that are adopting cans as their packaging of choice. Water, flavoured water, juices, iced teas, iced coffees, flavoured alcoholic beverage (like mojitos) are all benefiting from the great credentials offered by the can. Why open a whole bottle of wine or even a large fizzy drink when you only want to drink one glass? Cans are perfect for individual servings and portion control. And it is all about giving customers alternatives.

  by Joe Baker  7 MARCH 2019

Updating the Fasting Cube

Friday, 22nd March 2019

My 10-year old daughter currently believes that aluminium is the worst material for packaging on the planet. Why? Because her teacher is unknowingly spreading this misinformation - and it is up to us to make sure that this misconception is obliterated once and for all.

My 10-year-old daughter Anna is currently a fourth-grade student in a primary school in a small Catholic German village. As we are in the fasting period before Easter, her religion teacher decided to let the pupils craft a so called “fasting cube” (Fastenwürfel). The writing on each side of the cube represents something they should abstain from. Every morning the pupils roll the cube to see what particular form of fasting they will attempt on that day. 

I was quite surprised to see a drawing of plastic packaging and a metal tin crossed out on one side of the cube. The label read: Plastic and Aluminium. When I asked my daughter why aluminium was placed alongside plastic, she explained her teacher had told her that “aluminium is the worst material in existence for packaging food and beverages”.

I don’t want to accuse the teacher of deliberately spreading misinformation, I just think she doesn’t know better.

She clearly still believes that aluminium is not sustainable, a misconception which dates back to the 90s before Europe inaugurated the most sophisticated recycling system in the world. 

As a consequence, she is not able to teach her pupils the simple facts about aluminium:

  • Aluminium is a permanent material which can be re-used indefinitely without loss of quality – this is crucial to a circular economy.
  • 75% of all Aluminium ever produced worldwide is still in use, while only 9% of all plastics ever made have been recycled.
  • Plastics are never truly recyclable as their quality degrades with every cycle, requiring virgin plastic to be added, or for the polymer to be downcycled until it can no longer be processed.
  • The average beverage can contains 70% of recycled aluminium, whereas glass bottles only contain 23% on average and PET bottles less than 3%.
  • A ton of scrap aluminium has a value of around 1.186 USD, while a ton of PET is worth around 226 USD. This translates to an extremely good recycling rate for aluminium cans, even in countries which do not have an institutionalized recycling systems as we have in Europe (up to 97% recycling rate in countries like Brazil).
  • Unlike glass and plastic, aluminium provides a complete light and air barrier, preventing UV light from degrading the quality and nutritional value of the product
  • Simply put, aluminium is the most sustainable material currently in use for food and beverage packaging

But as a teacher, her pupils will trust her. 

“The world is drowning in plastic - and the UN just watches” was a title of a feature in the German news magazine “Der Spiegel” of March 15th, 2019. I don’t think we can lay the blame entirely on political institutions as long as the can-making industry fails to do everything possible to inform the public - Starting with those in our own neighbourhood, like the teachers who educate our children.

The best way to save the planet for future generations might be to make sure, that our children are not being taught outdated information, but are armed with the knowledge required to make better decisions than our generation did. 

I wrote a letter to the teacher and she promised to update her knowledge. Perhaps social media can help spread the discussion on this topic right now and help update the knowledge of neighbours, teachers and children worldwide.

Mr. Jungbeck as keynote speaker at 4th UNWTO congress in Berchtesgaden

Wednesday, 6th March 2019

On March 4th, 2019, Mr. Karlheinz Jungbeck was invited to be one of the keynote speakers at the 4th UNWTO Euro-Asian Mountain Tourism Congress.

Berchtesgaden, Bayern. As the CEO of TopCap Holding LLC and chairman of ADAC, Mr. Jungbeck held a presentation on mountain tourism and sustainability mobility. The presentation was concluded with a panel discussion with several renowned personalities in the fields of tourism and politics.

The forum mainly focused on the topics of sustainable tourism and future mobility. The panel consisted of Mr Jungbeck, Dr. Schuster from the BMW-Group, Mr Veit Bodenschatz, CEO of Bayrisches Oberland LCC and Mr. Manfred Pletzer, CEO of the Pletzer Group.

Mr. Jungbeck sees a lot of potential for all market operators in the sustainable approach to mobility.

„Perhaps certain modes of transportation, such as trains, will experience a rennaisance […] but one thing is highly probable: the car will maintain its place in the mix of transportation means. Cars might come with a different kind of engine and will serve as autonomous, self-operating transportation. A car will in most cases not be a possession, it'll be treated as a temporary tool“, according to Mr. Jungbeck's vision of future mobility.

The entire performance, including the panel discussion, was filmed by artdirection4u ADVERTISING LLC. After the conference, interviews were conducted with all panelists for closing remarks.

We would like to express our thanks to the UNWTO-Committee as well as Mr. Karlheinz Jungbeck for the very successful and professional cooperation.

Racing and politics at the Streif

Friday, 1st February 2019

“Après-Race“: after the famous downhill race in Kitzbühel, Karlheinz Jungbeck, CEO of Top Cap Holding GmbH, Dr. Margarete Schramböck, Austrian Minister of Economy and Digitalisation, and Günther Platter, Governor of Tyrol, get together at the social Hahnenkamm-Highlight.

 The international Hahnenkamm race is one of the toughest, most thrilling and legendary downhill ski races worldwide. At the 79th edition of the challenging downhill event, numerous prominent figures from politics and sports, enjoy a relaxed get-together.

Saturday night after the race signals the beginning of just another social highlight in Kitzbühel: the famous Hahnenkamm-Gala, where the red carpet is rolled out yearly for the high-society of the skiing world.

 Karlheinz Jungbeck, CEO of Top Cap Holding GmbH, Dr. Margarete Schramböck, Austrian Minister of Economy and Digitalisation, and Günther Platter, Governor of Tyrol, amongst others, joined the celebrations.

Kufsteiner „click cap“ to conquer the world

Tuesday, 8th January 2019

The "Kronen Zeitung" releases and article which establishes Top Cap Holding's important positioning on the global market, in the presence of WKO vice president Martha Schultz and WKO Tyrol resident Christoph Walser.

The „Kronen Zeitung“ releases an article, focusing on the continuous success of „the click cap“, which Gregor Piech and Karl-Heinz Jungbeck are celebrating on international levels. With a short outlook to future plans.

Attached is the full article in PDF. Only available in German.

Topcap in the magazine

Tuesday, 11th December 2018

TopCap is celebrating its brilliant international success on all levels: in the current issue of the local magazine "The Kufsteinerin", you can find an insightful article about the previously received "Canmaker Award of the Year". Find the full article attached as a PDF.

Our advent calendar

Thursday, 6th December 2018

A chance to win daily prices all the way up until Christmas: Tirol Kliniken initiated an advent calendar to benefit the project "Licht ins Dunkle". Find out more here:

The graphic and online department of the Tirol Kliniken created an online version of the popular and christmasy
advent calendar.

Starting December 1st, 2018, you can find the calendar online via .

If you would like to use this unique opportunity to support a project created for a good cause, using online communication (homepage, social media), please refer to the details below: 

Online Advent Calendar (Daily Prices).

o Starts 01.12. 2018

§ With each click you can open a picture with a title, sponsor and link to the sponsor:


Can Maker Summit, Venice 2018

Wednesday, 5th December 2018

Venice may not seem a likely candidate city for a metal packaging convention. Packaging, like air, is so ubiquitous, that it is easy to forget it is there. But the recent plastic crisis, enhanced by China‘s plastic ban, has made it a critical discussion topic for governments and the industry alike.

High-Tech resealable can lids produced in Kufstein, Tirol

Monday, 26th November 2018

Anyone who is of the opinion that a resealable can lid that is being produced in millions in the very near future is not a high-tech product, needs to rethink.

The youngest son of Ferdinand Piech, Gregor A. Piech, has chosen a different professional route, outside of the automotive industry. With the resealable can lid - the click cap - he represents the living incarnation of innovative engineering bred through his ancestors. CEO of Top Cap Holding GmbH, Karlheinz Jungbeck speaks to the Tirolean "Krone" newspaper.ßbarer_dosendeckel.pdf

“the click cap” takes Gold

Wednesday, 24th October 2018

The first place at "The Can of the Year Awards" goes to Top Cap Holding GmbH for the innovative concept "the click cap".

At the Canmaker Summit 2018 in Venice, Gregor A. Piech’s company Top Cap Holding was awarded the first prize in the Prototype category of The Can of the Year Awards for their innovative click cap.

The Gold Award was handed over to owner and CEO Gregor A. Piech at the Gala dinner in the Excelsior Hotel at the Lido, where every year the Golden Lions of the Venice Film Festival are awarded.

"This was the first award competition that Top Cap participated in and we are very moved by such a high level of recognition for our product. Over the last years I have seen our lid evolve from a mere concept to a working reality. Mr. Piech took a high risk investing in it, and the risk is now paying off. The whole Top Cap team, myself included, is very proud and happy that our efforts were recognized by an independent jury of industry experts."

The Prototype category is especially challenging as it includes all forms of innovation in metal packaging. Having talked to all global market leaders in the canmaking industry at the summit, and having started negotiations with several of them, it looks like the commercial future of the click cap is very exciting as well.

Karlheinz Jungbeck cap takes gold ENG_DE_ESP-compressed.pdf

Top Cap captured on the front page of the German magazine - Die Wirtschaftswoche

Thursday, 19th July 2018

Gregor Piech and his company Top Cap Holding get the front page of the German magazine - Die Wirtschaftswoche.

To read the full article, access the following link (article in German)



Monday, 23rd April 2018

The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and Top Cap Holding GmbH sign the contract for the funding of the "resealable can lid"

After intensive examination and evaluation of the technical feasibility as well as the commercial chances of success, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) has approved the application for funding from Top Cap Holding.

for the further development of a resealable beverage can lid. The corresponding subsidy agreement has now been signed by both FFG and Top Cap Holding. "When I acquired the patents underlying the resealable can lid in December 2015,

I immediately saw the market potential," recalls Gregor A. Piech, Managing Partner of Top Cap Holding GmbH. "Unfortunately, it took a little longer to finish the product to market maturity. But now we are about to launch.

That is why I am particularly pleased and grateful for the support of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency. It is a great honor for the company to receive this support from the Republic of Austria. For me personally,

it is the confirmation that I was not completely wrong with my assessment at the point of patent acquisition."