Digimarc Corp., Beaverton, Oregon, and AIM – European Brands Association, Brussels, announced that the Digital Watermarks initiative HolyGrail 2.0 has completed a semi-industrial trial demonstrating an average detection rate of 99%, while ejection and purity were 95%. , on average. The organizations say the results demonstrate that Digimarc’s technology performs well in all categories of plastic packaging tested under conditions representing routine industrial operations, even at higher belt speeds and when the packaging exhibits soiling. and major crashes.
Digital watermarks are imperceptible codes the size of a postage stamp and carry a wide range of attributes on the packaging of the consumer goods on which they are placed. The goal is that once the packaging enters a material recovery facility, the digital watermark can be detected and decoded using a high-resolution camera on the sorting line, which, depending on the attributes transferred which may include whether the packaging was used for food or not, sorts the packaging into the corresponding streams.
“These results provide clear evidence that Digimarc’s digital watermarks can transform recycling,” said Riley McCormack, CEO of Digimarc. “Furthermore, Digimarc Recycle, powered by Digimarc digital watermarks, provides the industry with additional business value on top of this critical and essential enabler of a circular economy. With the exceptional performance of Digimarc digital watermarks now validated, we are thrilled to partner with sustainability leaders to make a meaningful impact on the planet, as well as their businesses.
The results show that digital watermarking technology can achieve more granular sorting of end-of-life packaging at scale, such as the development of separate foods and other new post-consumer streams that do not exist, such as for cosmetic or detergent applications, effectively overcoming the limitations of near-infrared sorting technologies. The organizations say the technology can help create a true circular economy for packaging.
Developed by machine supplier Pellenc ST and digital watermark technology provider Digimarc, the sensor unit is now ready for industrial-scale pilots, which are expected to start later this year, according to a press release issued by the AIM. Details on industry partners and packaging scope will be released soon.
“We have achieved our goal of proving that digital watermarks can increase smart sorting of packaging waste at scale, enabling new recycling streams that currently do not exist. This would be a fantastic leap forward in realizing the EU recycling targets,” says Michelle Gibbons, AIM’s Chief Executive. “Innovation and digital are key drivers of the green transition, and this has been achieved through HolyGrail 2.0. The commitment across the value chain by dedicated experts and teams to get to this point has been remarkable; now market players can decide to be part of industrial scale pilots, to test this on an even larger scale in Europe.
Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which funded the project, said: “The HolyGrail project is a great example of how committed and committed businesses coming together around a very clear objective can accelerate the development of new solutions. As we enter the next stage of market demonstrations, we strongly encourage more companies and partners to join us in scaling up testing and adoption.
Semi-industrial testing of the Pellenc ST/Digimarc prototype began in October 2021 at the Amager Resource Center in Copenhagen. The objective was to evaluate the technology by replicating real industrial conditions. Full sets of tests were performed on approximately 125,000 packages from 260 storage units, or SKUs, at a belt speed of 3 meters per second, or nearly 10 feet, with fouling/crushing and throughput representing routine industrial operations. Additional testing was also performed at a higher belt speed of 4.5 meters per second, or nearly 15 feet per second, with heavy fouling and crushing, with no loss in performance.