Tethered Bottle Caps: A Greener and More Inclusive Choice

This article is written by a master student and reflects their individual perspectives and opinions. It does not constitute an official representation of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. The content provided here is for educational and informational purposes only, and readers should be aware that it does not necessarily align with the official position of the institute. Readers are encouraged to independently verify information and seek guidance from appropriate academic authorities when necessary. The authors bear full responsibility for the content presented in this blog and any potential consequences resulting from it.

This article was written by Yanyan Huang. Yanyan is currently a master student of the International Human Rights Law programme at Lund University. She graduated from Macau University of Science and Technology with a bachelor’s degree. Her fields of interest include disability law and women’s rights.

In Europe, an increasing number of beverage bottle caps are now designed to remain attached to the bottle, a change that has left many consumers dissatisfied. This shift is a result of the European Union’s Directive (EU) 2019/904, which was introduced in 2019. According to Article 6 paragraph 1, starting July 3, 2024, single-use plastic products that have caps and lids made of plastic may be placed on the market only if the caps and lids remain attached to the containers during the products’ intended use stage. These tethered bottle caps are not only crucial for reducing plastic pollution but also contribute to enhancing accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.

The Environmental Impact

Plastic pollution is one of the most critical environmental challenges of the 21st century, with substantial amounts of plastic waste entering the oceans annually, posing severe threats to marine ecosystems and biodiversity. According to a web report of European Environment Agency (EEA), in Europe, plastic waste constitutes up to 85% of marine litter, with half of it being single-use plastic items, including numerous loose bottle caps. Despite their small size, plastic bottle caps are a significant source of pollution due to their sheer volume and the difficulty in recycling them. For instance, a reporter found that 10,004 bottle caps were collected from the Dutch North Sea coastline during the 2016 Boskalis Beach Cleanup Tour and more than 80% of which came from consumer drinks and food packaging. Plastics have a profound environmental impact because they decompose very slowly. As they break down into microplastics, they can persist in the environment for hundreds of years, eventually being ingested by wildlife and entering our food chain. Additionally, discarded bottle caps can be ingested by animals, leading to fatal blockages in their digestive systems.

The introduction of integrated caps significantly reduces plastic waste by minimizing the loss of caps. This approach not only lessens environmental pollution but also enhances the overall recyclability of bottles, contributing to the achievement of a circular economy. By adopting such measures, we can conserve natural resources and propel society towards a greener and more sustainable future.

Accessibility for People with Disabilities

International human rights law provides a legal framework that ensures the fundamental rights and freedoms of every individual, upholding the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) explicitly states that persons with disabilities should enjoy equal rights and freedoms as others, urging countries to take measures to eliminate barriers that hinder their participation in society.

For blind individuals and others with disabilities, numerous obstacles can impede access to and use of everyday items. For instance, independently opening a bottle cap can be a significant challenge. Traditional bottle caps are easy to misplace, creating inconvenience for people with disabilities and increasing their daily living costs and burdens. For blind individuals and those with hand impairments, an integrated bottle cap is more convenient and user-friendly. It eliminates the need to worry about losing the cap or spending extra time and effort locating or replacing it. Molly Burke, a YouTuber with 1.97 million subscribers, has noted that the connected cap design simplifies the process of opening a bottle and reduces the likelihood of losing the cap, making it more accessible for blind users. This design not only enhances convenience but also alleviates unnecessary financial burdens. Moreover, integrated bottle caps reduce the risk of accidental swallowing, making them a safer and more reliable option.


In summary, tethered bottle caps play a crucial role in both environmental protection by reducing plastic pollution and in promoting equal participation for people with disabilities in society. Supporting and advocating for such designs is essential to protecting the environment and upholding human rights. We anticipate more innovative designs and policies in the future that will further sustainable development and equitable progress, fostering a greener and more inclusive world.


European Union. (2019). Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. Official Journal of the European Union, L 155, 1–19.

European Environment Agency. (2024). From Source to Sea — The Untold Story of Marine Litter. Retrieved from https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/european-marine-litter-assessment/from-source-to-sea-the

European Commission, Joint Research Centre. (2016). Marine Beach Litter in Europe – Top Items. JRC Technical Report No.103929. Joint Research Centre.

Neil Seldman. (2017, July 14). North Sea Foundation Report on Bottle Caps. Institutite For Local Self-Reliance.

United Nations General Assembly. (2006). Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Molly Burke [@MollyBurkeOfficial]. (2023, August 3). Blind accessible water [Video]. YouTube. https://m.youtube.com/shorts/nSHhM1QpbRk

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

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