CANADA – Circular Plastic Taskforce (CPT) has partnered with US-based digital watermarking solution provider Digimarc in a ‘first in North America’ initiative to enhance sortation of flexible packaging in Canada.
This project marks the start of Phase II of the CPT, which aims to carry out or support projects to improve the recycling of all plastic packaging within the evolving Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) landscape in Quebec and Canada.
Digimarc Recycle watermarks are applied within the package artwork without requiring special inks or print processes, and are visible to specialized sorting equipment, but imperceptible to consumers.
The watermarks, when scanned by machine cameras, connect to a cloud-based database containing unlimited (and extensible) characteristics of the package, such as the manufacturer and specific product, prior use (food versus non-food), additives, or the presence of components that are problematic for recycling. As such, it can help facilitate flexible packaging sortation.
“We are thrilled to launch such a forward-looking project and get our Phase II underway,” says the Circular Plastics Taskforce Steering Committee.
“The results from our Phase I study show that even if flexible plastic packaging represents a significant portion of plastic packaging used in Quebec and Canada, their recovery rates remain low.”
The partners will test the capability of specialized optical sorters at the Pellenc R&D Center in Pertuis, France, in the first part of the project.
The test is designed to adequately capture flexible packaging with digital watermarks in a controlled environment.
Next year, Digimarc and CPT will proceed with the second phase of the project to test the solution in a real-life environment, and at a much larger scale.
The partners will install specialized sorting equipment in sorting centers and recyclers in Quebec and Ontario to facilitate the project.
The project also aims to validate the efficiency of Digimarc Recycle in providing traceability of packaging.
Traceability is a prerequisite to producing food-grade recycled resin and will be key to complying with upcoming regulations that will be implemented to accelerate the transition to a circular economy for plastics.
Digimarc Corporation Business Development sustainability program director Emily Stolarcyk said: “Digimarc’s digital watermarks, a key component of Digimarc Recycle, have proven to be a truly innovative way to correctly identify each unique package.”
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