Henkel is one of more than 85 companies and organisations of the new cross-value chain initiative “HolyGrail 2.0”, launched by AIM, the European Brands Association. The goal of the initiative is to assess whether a pioneering digital technology can enable better sorting and higher-quality recycling rates for packaging in the EU, to drive a truly circular economy. As a pilot project, Henkel is exploring this innovative digital watermark technology for a new product range of its fabric softener brand Vernel starting in October 2020 to gain further insights for the implementation and development of the digital watermark technology and its benefits for the recycling of packaging.
- One of the most pressing challenges in achieving a circular economy for packaging is to better sort post-consumer waste by accurately identifying packaging, resulting in more efficient and higher-quality recycling.
- Another challenge is that when it comes to the recycling of packaging, we currently still rely on the consumer to separate the two types of plastic materials as many sorting lines are not able to identify the bottle material correctly.
Digital watermarking presents a possibility to address these challenges:
- Digital watermarks perform like a barcode invisible to the human eye on the packaging. They may have the potential to revolutionise the way packaging is sorted in the waste management system, as it opens new possibilities that are currently not feasible with existing technologies.
- The bottle material could be easily detected and efficiently sorted in the correct material fraction. Based on the initial HolyGrail project under the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the “HolyGrail 2.0” initiative will take place on a much greater scale and scope. This will include the launch of an industrial pilot in order to prove the viability of digital watermarks technologies for more accurate sorting of packaging and higher-quality recycling, as well as the business case at large scale.
- To address the twin challenge of the green and digital transitions, it is crucial that emerging technologies are considered when further rolling out the new Circular Economy Action Plan, promoting their sustainability benefits and providing financial support for their further development and use at scale across sectors.
More than 85 companies and organizations of the new cross-value chain initiative “HolyGrail 2.0”, launched by AIM, the European Brands Association.
Peter Boris Schmitt - Corporate Director and Head of EU Office
+32 (0) 2 206 30 60