In a significant leap towards achieving advanced sortation and promoting a circular economy, the Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0 has achieved a remarkable milestone. The technology's cutting-edge capabilities were successfully validated in an industrial setting, specifically showcasing its effectiveness in separating food and non-food waste streams. The results contribute to perspectives for the creation of separate streams of food and non-food r-PET in recycling plants, thereby improving recycling efficiency.
During the trials, the fully operational sorting line equipped with the digital watermark detection module achieved an average detection efficiency of 92.1% and sorting efficiency of 88.3% during the first phase sorting. These efficiencies improved during second phase sorting, reaching an average of 95.9% for detection and 95.1% for sorting. These remarkable results validate the effectiveness of digital watermarks in distinguishing between food and non-food waste streams.
Moreover, it was determined that a single sorting processsufficed to meet the stringent guidelines set forth by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (less than 5% non-food contact material). This breakthrough not only ensures compliance but also enables the creation of a dedicated non-food PET stream for circular use. Additionally, the conventional two-pass sorting process, commonly employed in recycling plants, presents further opportunities for enhancing both the food-grade and non-food streams.
The trials, conducted at the Wellman/Indorama recycling plant in Verdun, France, were facilitated by machine vendor Pellenc ST and digital watermarks technology provider Digimarc, both key partners to the HolyGrail 2.0 Initiative.
Enabling Circular Recycling Flows:
One of the most exciting prospects of HolyGrail 2.0's technology is the ability to develop individual post-consumer sorting flows for recycling that were previously unattainable. By sorting packaging materials with greater precision, tailored recycling streams for specific uses, such as cosmetics, detergents, and food-contact packaging, become feasible. These custom sorting flows support more circular, one-on-one recycling applications, contributing to a more sustainable future. Fost Plus is pleased the support the implementation of HolyGrail 2.0, collaborating closely to incorporate digital watermarks on PET bottles and trays collected via the blue bag.
The success of HolyGrail 2.0's industrial validation marks a significant step forward in advancing recycling practices. As the initiative continues, further industrial trials on different post-consumer waste material streams will be conducted. HolyGrail 2.0, in partnership with Fost Plus and other key stakeholders, remains committed to driving innovation and sustainability in the sorting and recycling industry.