Innovation Insight – Digimarc

Making today’s mark on circularity

Digimarc is a global leader in the field of digital watermarking. The company’s unrivalled commitment towards a sustainable, circular economy is exemplified by its participation in the ‘Holy Grail 2.0’ project, described here in this special SPN feature.

It is generally understood that currently far too much plastic waste is going into landfill, in fact today only 9% of global plastic waste is recycled. This is according to a 2019 study published in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Science Advances’. Furthermore, Europe’s, ‘Euromonitor’ calculates that an estimated 2.7 trillion units of plastic-based packaging will be in global circulation by 2022. Euromonitor also states that huge volumes of materials will not be contributing to the circular economy. This equates to the potential loss of huge resources, as well as lost value, and a missed opportunity for the industry to meet its recycled content goals. This is simply a cost that the industry cannot afford.

Digimarc develops high-tech solutions featuring digital watermarks in order to increase the recyclability of plastics and improve the sustainability and functionality of today’s diverse packaging portfolios. As companies look to engage more with consumers, digital watermarking offers a unique interaction with the product and ultimately the brand. Almost imperceptible to the naked eye, but eminently readable by smart phones and tablets, the Digimarc barcodes make the package itself the passport to sustainability.

Sustainability goals, recyclability information, health information, corporate values and much more, can all be conveyed to consumers through the company’s advanced Digimarc barcodes. This technology allows brands to sell much more than just products, it enables a powerful consumer experience that helps to build brand loyalty and brand equity. But the power of the barcode doesn’t end with consumers. Once in the recycling packaging with a barcode it can be efficiently and accurately separated, thus significantly increasing the current levels of waste recovery.

Today, there is virtually unlimited data associated with the packaged object, for example, individual manufacturer, resin type and the components that make up multi-layer packaging. As a result, the objects become the ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT-ready objects, and it is now possible to address many current issues in sorting challenges such as carbon-black plastics and flexible pouches.

The ‘Holy Grail 2.0’ initiative

Digimarc has developed a powerful digital identity, with its Digimarc Barcode[GC1] , which delivers more data, offers greater capabilities and enables easier automatic identification of product packaging and other media. This is especially true when compared with other common visual elements, such as a UPC or QR code. However, there is now a truly exciting project that pulls the supply chain together, and one that clearly demonstrates the power of Digimarc Barcode in today’s sophisticated recycling systems.

Facilitated by the European Brands Association, ‘HolyGrail 2.0’ is a cross-value chain-collaborative initiative that aims to speed the transition to a circular economy for plastics, by increasing the quantity and quality of recyclable material through identification. Built on its long history as a pioneer and world leader in digital watermarking technology, Digimarc Barcode enables better detection and sorting as well as improving the economics and efficiencies of the recycling value-chain and supply chains for global retailers and their brands.

Digimarc’s strategist for sustainability and recycling, Larry Logan, has enthusiastically described to SPN the enormous opportunities that Digimarc Barcode offers the packaging industry. “As part of the high-profile HolyGrail 2.0 project focused on pioneering the use of digital watermarks for a circular economy, we will better enable companies to reach their recycling and recycled-content goals.

” Logan said. “We’re proud to support Procter & Gamble, Danone, Nestlé, PepsiCo and other renowned consumer brands to help meet their ambitious, but essential sustainability targets.” Sustainability leaders and HolyGrail 2.0 members recently set out to demonstrate the recovery advantages that Digimarc technology has to offer.

This includes, more precise and accurate sorting (e.g., food grade v. non-food grade), less contamination, and better data to help companies meet their voluntary recovery goals and regulatory mandates.

Increasing global interest

Digimarc continues to attract increased global interest among the industry’s foremost leaders for its innovative approach to optimising packaging for more effective recycling outcomes. Digimarc is a member of several key groups including the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, European and U.S. Plastics Pacts, Association of Plastic Recyclers[GC1]  and many more influential sustainability and trade organisations, in addition to being signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ‘Global Commitment’ project.

“We are excited about the potential impact Digimarc could have on recycling,” said Robert Flores, vice president for sustainability at Berry Global, itself a global leader in plastic packaging. In addition, manufacturers of advanced sorting technology products also recognise the value of digital watermarks as the preferred route to the more efficient recovery of materials. “We look forward to continuing our work with Digimarc in the HolyGrail 2.0 initiative, toward bringing to market the enormous potential of the technology for recycling sortation,” commented Oliver Lambertz, vice president and head of business development at TOMRA, a leading supplier of hardware for materials recovery facilities.

Those interested in learning more, or joining the HolyGrail 2.0 consortium can visit,

Full life-cycle sustainability

Digimarc told SPN that to achieve optimal sustainability, business operations today must significantly reduce waste wherever possible. Digimarc digital identities help manufacturers to reduce waste during production due to issues such as labelling errors and mismatched parts. Furthermore, limiting waste in processes and workflows throughout the supply chain supports greater operational sustainability.

Digimarc technology delivers item-level identification and serialisation that enables global supply chain leaders to pinpoint the precise location of products anywhere, as well as providing better management of recalls, thus boosting efficiency across a complex global network of distributors.

Global industry leaders recognise that Digimarc is at the forefront of developing new technologies to reduce waste, increase traceability and improving recyclability across the board. Digimarc’s mission is to deliver digital identities that support more sustainable packaging and a circular economy for a less wasteful and more profitable future for all.