After semi-industrial testing last year of the prototype detection unit for digital watermarks showed that the digital watermark technology developed by digitisation product company Digimarc was indeed capable of effectively sorting waste into specific streams at scale, the Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0 is now advancing into the next project phase.
As part of the initiative's next phase, the HolyGrail 2.0 technology will be tested for detection, ejection and purity – among others – at industrial level in three testing facilities in France and Germany.
The trials conducted last year yielded consistently high results, achieving a 99% average detection rate across all tested categories of plastic packaging. The effectiveness of the Digimarc Recycle technology has since also been validated in Canada, with a 99% detection rate in a pilot with the Circular Plastics Taskforce (CPT), with CPT now aiming to implement Digimarc Recycle in Canadian facilities in 2023.
Furthermore, a pilot market to test the technology at scale in one national market has been selected, an approach that will yield real-life data on the value-creation potential of digital watermarks for optimal sorting of packaging waste.
Stakeholders across the packaging value chain have selected France as the European pilot market for Digimarc Recycle.
“As the semi-industrial trials clearly demonstrated last year, digital watermarking technology has the power to transform recycling,” said Digimarc CEO Riley McCormack. The more granular sorting enabled by the Digimarc Recycle technology, in which flexible packaging can be separated by attributes, would allow separate food and other new PCR streams - such as cosmetic or detergent applications - to be established.
“We could not be more thrilled to support our partners in France as they progress in their journey to achieving a more circular economy,” said McCormack.
France was chosen for a number of reasons. CITEO, the French EPR scheme for household packaging and paper has long supported the initiative; the country has ambitious legislative recycling goals, and key French players have been involved in HolyGrail 2.0 since the start of the project.
All operators in France have now been invited to participate, marking an expansion in activities that were previously limited to HolyGrail 2.0 members.
“Momentum is building globally,” noted McCormack. “Stakeholders – particularly consumers and governments – are no longer willing to accept inaction. With regulations like the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation in the EU on the horizon, Digimarc can support companies with the innovation they need to comply, demonstrate leadership, and foster a more sustainable future.”