First Market Tests with Digital Watermarks

Consumer goods company Procter & Gamble is preparing more than 100 products with digital watermarks for the national test market in Germany. The announcement was made by Gian de Belder, technical director of packaging development at Procter & Gamble, at FACHPACK.

„Packaging with digital watermarks has enormous potential to improve the sorting of packaging waste and achieve more efficient recycling. Since the first hour of the pioneering project, we have been working towards the field test. Now this milestone has been reached, and we are excited to see what new insights emerge under everyday conditions in the recycling process,“ said Gian de Belder, technical director of packaging development at Procter & Gamble.

The industrial-scale trial with numerous branded products is scheduled to start in Denmark in October and will be extended to France and Germany from January 2022. He said this marks an important milestone for innovation in the recycling process in the cross-industry „HolyGrail 2.0“ initiative. The European Brands Association (AIM) and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste have announced a partnership to drive the next stage of development of the „HolyGrail 2.0“ innovation initiative to optimize waste sorting. P&G said it is supporting the field test of „digital watermarks“ with more than 100 products in Europe. In Germany alone, 75 products from the Ariel, Lenor, Blend-a-med, Pampers, Always and Fairy brands are to participate.

The field test of the new technology on packaging is being carried out in partnership with the City of Copenhagen. From the so-called „semi-industrial test phase“ of the pilot project, developers expect to gain additional insights to anchor precise identification and efficient sorting of plastic packaging waste using „digital watermarks“ in everyday life, revolutionizing the sorting and recycling process of plastic packaging, de Belder told Forum PACKBOX.

For background, Procter & Gamble launched the „HolyGrail“ project in 2016 in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as part of the New Plastics Economy. The project was led by P&G through 2019 and included various analyses and approaches to improve sorting, including chemical markers and digital watermarks. In 2020, it was transferred to the HolyGrail 2.0 project, which focuses exclusively on „digital watermarks“ for smart sorting and has since been led by the European Brands Association (AIM). The Alliance to End Plastic Waste supports this initiative. More than 130 companies and organizations from the entire packaging value chain are now involved in the „HolyGrail 2.0“ project – including P&G.