What the participants say

The project participants, including the core partners, retailers, brand owners and digital watermark companies, share their thoughts on the progress made so far:

Gian De Belder (Project leader, HolyGrail): “Low recycling rates in EU are mainly related to low collection numbers and low sorting efficiencies. Project HolyGrail looked into different technologies to improve the latter. Packaging can be made intelligent through the use of Digital Watermarks, without having an impact on established recycling streams (e.g. no battery, no metallic wires, etc are needed to make them smart). This intelligence can be used throughout the full value chain (packer/filler, Quality Assurance and inventory management, anti-counterfeiting, consumer engagement [including recycling instructions through your smartphone] and lately also End-of-Life [automatic sorting lines]).

“During this project, the concept of an add-on module onto an existing sorter has been successfully proven. This now opens a variety of possibilities today not feasible with standard sorting technologies. It has been a great three years of leading this true full-value chain project and wanted to thanks all members that contributed to the successful proof-of-concept of this industry-first new sorting technology”

Nico Van de Walle (Product & Circular Economy Manager, Verstraete In-Mould Labels Labels – a Multi-Color Company):IML packaging is 100 per cent recyclable and has a high value within a circular economy and therefore it would be a shame, both environmentally and economically, not to valorise these assets within a circular economy. IML labels, enhanced with a digital watermark, could easily and swiftly become the future standard as we do not need any special or additional inks to print these interactive IML labels. Therefore we’re proud and motivated that we, on behalf of our customers, can play an active role in this project, so that IML and any other plastic packaging worldwide is getting sorted and recycled into the most valuable recycling stream.”

Oliver Lambertz (Business Development Manager Segments, TOMRA Sorting GmbH): “TOMRA was delighted and honoured to be a member of the HolyGrail project. With a strong focus on circular economy TOMRA will continue to work on innovative solutions that will help to close the loop for plastic packaging.”

Sabine ZARIATTI (Plastic activity leader, Suez): Plastic recycling is complex. To reach ambitious targets, all the value chain has to work together. Holy grail is the first large scale innovative project to find new sorting routes and I believe this technology will be part of the future of plastics sorting and recycling)

An Vossen, (Executive Manager, Plarebel): “A new breakthrough in marker-based sorting technology holds the key to improving plastic recycling, providing high quality sorting and boosting recycling quality and yield. Aside from the technical progress made during the Hol Grail project, we have seen how the entire value chain has embraced marker-based sorting as a crucial next step, which is fundamental to deliver the circular economy for plastics.”

Larry Logan (Chief Evangelist, Digimarc): “Digimarc Barcode for the recycling of plastic objects and shrink labels further demonstrates the broad utility of our Intuitive Computing Platform, delivering a circular economy approach to packaging from birth in manufacturing, to rebirth as recycled products. We are excited to help brands, retailers, and the recycling ecosystem satisfy demanding regulatory requirements and public commitments for sustainability. And, we look forward to broadly licensing our technology to the industry upon commercialisation.”

Johan Kerver (CEO, Filigrade):Filigrade was the first to show in 2016 at Petcore that watermarks embossed in packages for sorting purposes would be the innovation for the future. We are delighted that now in 2019 the innovation proves, after development to industrial scale, that plastics can now be better sorted and serve as high-quality raw materials.”

Maurits Van Tol (Borealis Senior Vice President, Innovation, Technology & Circular Economy Solutions): “Borealis’ participation in the New Plastic Economy  initiative of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation helps us drive our EverMinds™ vision and mind-set. Advancements in sorting technology such as those investigated in the pioneering HolyGrail project are key to improving recovery rates and enabling higher quality plastic streams to broaden end markets for recycled plastics. Borealis is proud to have participated in this collaborative project to demonstrate the capabilities of the digital watermarking technology at industrial scale.”

Pascal Chapon (Sustainability Team Manager Packaging Materials Techno Center, Danone): “This new disruptive technology is an opportunity to help accelerate the transition towards a circular economy of packaging. It could boost both recycling quality and yield and contribute to improve circularity of our packaging in line with ambition of Danone Pack Policy. We are supporting the development of this technology and want to contribute to its development at industrial scale.”