Digimarc Barcode: creating a ‘digital recycling passport’ in plastics for intelligent sorting
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy initiative, ‘HolyGrail’, set out to find a harmonized technological approach that would increase the amount of high-quality, post-consumer recycled content available for new packaging, while creating a means to drive consumer participation in the correct collection of their waste. The original HolyGrail participants, including 29 brands, retailers and industry suppliers, ultimately selected digital watermarking for industry adoption. This advancement is considered as perhaps the only means on the horizon to help brands, retailers and recyclers to meet their public pledges and create the volumes of recycled content to address regulatory mandates. A feature of digital watermarking for recycling, known as ‘Digimarc Barcode’, is that it can be included in any printed material on a package, such as a shrink label, in-mold label or paper label, and also remarkably in the physical substrate of the plastic itself. A successor, industry-led initiative, ‘HolyGrail 2.0’, is further developing the solution for commercial deployments and already includes more than 180 leading brands, retailers, industry trade associations, plastics converters and waste management companies. Here, Larry will explore the shift in the entire paradigm of the sorting of plastics to increase the quality and quantity of recyclates. He will also delve into the capability to ‘hyper-sort’ any plastic, based upon virtually any sorting parameters desired. Additionally, he will reveal the virtually unlimited information accessible on the object’s attributes, such as the manufacturer, the product SKU, the manufacturing facility or the previous use of the plastic (i.e. food versus non-food items), and the capability to detect any object such as carbon-black or opaque and difficult-to-recycle containers. Ultimately, he will explain how Digimarc Barcode may reduce manufacturers’ exposure to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fees and achieve higher rankings in design-for-recycling guidelines.