Plastic Recycling Digital Watermark Initiative Ramps Up

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Intelligent sorting of plastic packaging waste for recycling is poised to move forward. AIM the European Brands Association and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste announced this week a partnership to drive the next stage of development under the Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0. They will work with the city of Copenhagen to conduct the semi-industrial test phase of the pilot. This milestone will be one step closer to precision identification and sorting of plastic packaging waste through digital watermarks, with the potential to revolutionize the sorting and recycling process of packaging. Digital watermarks are discrete codes, each the size of a postage stamp. They cover the entire surface of a consumer goods packaging and carry a wide range of attributes such as packaging type, material, and usage. Used packaging is collected and scanned on the sorting line with a high-resolution camera which detects and decodes the digital watermark. The packaging is then sorted into corresponding streams, based on specified attributes including food, nonfood, or polymer types. This leads to more accurate sorting streams and higher quality recyclates to be diverted back into the plastic packaging value chain.

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