Sun Chemical has signed up to the Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0, facilitated by AIM, the European Brands Association. In doing so, Sun Chemical is joining forces with over 85 companies and organisations to participate in a pilot project with the goal of proving the viability of digital watermarking technologies to enable better sorting and higher quality recycling rates for packaging in the EU, in order to drive a truly circular economy.
The initiative follows on from HolyGrail 1.0, a project conducted as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy programme, which brought together different stakeholders from the packaging value chain between 2016 and 2019. Having investigated different innovations to improve post-consumer recycling, digital watermarks were found to be the most promising technology.
Digital Watermarks are imperceptible codes that typically cover the surface of a consumer goods packaging and display the properties of packaging. They can carry a wide range of attributes, such as manufacturer, SKU, type of plastics used and composition for multilayer objects, food vs. non-food usage, etc. The idea is that, once the packaging has entered into a waste sorting facility, the digital watermark can be detected and decoded by a camera on a sorting line.
Based on the attributes identified, the packaging can then be easily sorted into appropriate streams. This would result in better and more accurate sorting streams and therefore in higher quality recyclates, benefiting the overall packaging value chain. Sun Chemical, along with the other brands in the initiative, will fully investigate the effectiveness of such measures.
Nicolas Betin, Director of Product Strategy EMEA & Global Sustainability Business Leader, Packaging Inks & Materials, Sun Chemical comments: “Sun Chemical is proud to support this sustainability initiative, working with leading brands right across the packaging value chain. Digital watermarks for smart packaging offer an innovative measure for changing the way packaging waste is sorted, so we are excited to explore the full potential of such solutions. We are delighted to be a part of such a ground-breaking project that could make a significant difference towards achieving better recycling and, ultimately, a more circular economy, in line with Sun Chemical’s own sustainability goals.”