Digimarc Corp. says a Canadian recycling pilot project on the effectiveness of Digimarc Recycle showed that the technology considerably improved recycling sortation.
The project — a first in North America — was undertaken in conjunction with the Circular Plastics Taskforce (CPT), participating converters and Pellenc ST, a France-based major manufacturer of intelligent sorting equipment and connected services to promote the circular economy.
The CPT aims to promote the implementation of a circular economy for post-consumer plastics and to that end, seeks to conduct projects to improve the recycling of all plastic packaging within the evolving Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) landscape in Quebec, and Canada more broadly. Assessments were aimed at delivering a first-hand view of sorting performance by CPT constituents as well as an observation of performance in mixed waste that is characteristic of Canadian conditions.
The accuracy of detection and sorting was 99 percent for films and flexibles, which satisfied the guidelines set by Digimarc. Tthe results show consistent behavior no matter the type of material used, the form factor, or the type of comingled waste. The CPT concluded that Digimarc technology works to sort films and flexibles accurately and efficiently on a SKU-level (deterministic) basis. Starting in 2023, CPT aims to implement the technology in facilities to enable the separation of flexibles by attributes, allowing the creation of new end markets.
"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," says Riley McCormack, Digimarc CEO. "The Canadian provinces have ambitious targets and a clear commitment to action. We are energized by the opportunity to support CPT as they execute against their vision for advanced plastic recycling in Canada."
Digimarc is a pioneer in digital watermarking and cloud-based product data. Digimarc Recycle is a technology that uses digital watermarks on products in combination with a cloud-based repository of product attributes, which goes beyond what can just be achieved with optical sorting technologies. The same information used for sortation can be used to provide product-specific and location-based disposal instructions via a brand-owned direct-to-consumer digital communication channel accessed via on-pack watermarks or QR codes.
Large-scale sorting assessments with Digimarc technology have been performed over the last year, most notably as part of HolyGrail 2.0, a cross-industry initiative in Europe driven by AIM – European Brands Association and powered by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. While these assessments have increased in complexity and challenge, results measuring detection rates, sorting rates, and purity levels have remained both consistent and exceedingly high.