Siegwerk has joined the HolyGrail 2.0 initiative, which under the auspices of AIM, the European Brands Association, investigates the use of pioneering digital watermark technology to achieve a truly circular economy.
The new technology works like a digital passport for packaging. Digital watermarks are integrated multiple times into the surface of labels or paper-based packaging. They are imperceptible to the human eye, but can be read by cameras, and can carry a wide range of information, such as manufacturer, SKU, type of plastics used and composition for multilayer objects, food vs. non-food usage.
This information can be used along the entire packaging value chain – from a producer to the recycler. It can improve consumer engagement, supply chain visibility and retail operations. In the end, the digital watermark can be detected on the sorting line of a waste sorting facility. This will then result in high-quality recyclates, which can be re-used and support a circular economy model.
Siegwerk will contribute its expertise on packaging circularity as well as on sustainable inks and varnishes and the printing process.
‘We are very proud to be a member of this ambitious initiative, joining renowned companies such as The Coca-Cola Company, Kelloggs, Rewe Group and Tetra Pak. It perfectly fits with a key element of our circular economy objectives: targeting collection and recycling of all packaging. We are convinced that we need to transform the industry away from a linear economy towards a circular economy model. It’s critical to embrace digital and smart ways to achieve this,’ said Alina Marm, head of circular economy hub at Siegwerk.
HolyGrail 2.0 is the next phase of the HolyGrail initiative, which was started by the consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble and was completed under the Ellen MacArthur Foundation between 2016 and 2019. It will launch an industrial pilot in order to prove the viability of digital watermark technologies for more accurate sorting of packaging and high-quality recycling. In addition, it will establish specifications for embedding watermarking codes into plastic molds as well as specifications for sorting equipment.