Digimarc Corp. announces recycling project results

The company says the pilot project, conducted in Canada, assessed its effectiveness in optimizing the sortation of flexible plastic packaging.

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Image courtesy of Digimarc Corp.

Digimarc Corp., Beaverton, Oregon, has announced what it says are positive results from a Canadian recycling pilot project assessing the effectiveness of its Digimarc Recycle program in optimizing the sortation of flexible plastic packaging.

Participating converters, the Montreal-based Circular Plastics Taskforce (CPT) and France-based sorting equipment manufacturer Pellenc ST joined Digimarc on the project, which Digimarc says showed an accuracy of detection and sorting of 99 percent for films and flexibles, which satisfies the company’s enhancement guidelines. The company says that the results show consistent behavior, no matter the type of material used, the form factor or the type of comingled waste.

The CPT, which seeks to drive projects to improve the recycling of all plastic packaging within the extended producer responsibility (EPR) landscape across Canada, has determined that Digimarc technology works to sort films and flexibles accurately and efficiently on a deterministic basis.

In the Digimarc Recycle program, digital watermarks are applied within package artwork and are visible to specialized sorting equipment. When scanned by machine cameras, the watermarks connect to a cloud-based database containing a multitude of characteristics of the package, such as the manufacturer and specific product, prior use, additives or the presence of components that are problematic for recycling.

According to Digimarc, the first part of the project was performed at Pellenc ST’s research and development facility in Pertuis, France, and consisted of testing the ability of specialized optical sorters to adequately capture flexible packaging with digital watermarks in a controlled environment.

Starting in 2023, CPT says it aims to begin the second part of the project—implementing Digimarc Recycle technology in facilities in Quebec in Ontario to capture flexible packaging with digital watermarks put on the market by Digimarc’s retail and brand partners.

“These results further confirm what has been validated in other programs: Digimarc Recycle is exceedingly effective in improving the accuracy of recycling sortation and provides an ability to sort material that current optical sorting technology cannot,” Digimarc CEO Riley McCormack says. “The Canadian provinces have ambitious targets and a clear commitment to action. We are energized by the opportunity to support CPT as they execute their vision for advanced plastic recycling in Canada.”

Digimarc has also conducted sorting assessments in Europe within the last year, most notably as part of HolyGrail 2.0, a cross-industry initiative driven by AIM - European Brands Association and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. Digimarc says that while the assessments have increased in complexity and challenge, results measuring detection rates, sorting rates and purity levels have remained both consistent and exceedingly high.

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