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HolyGrail 2.0

Marking plastic packaging with digital watermarks to enable automatic sorting in recycle centres

January 2020
Gallery HolyGrail 2.0 1
Gallery HolyGrail 2.0 1


HolyGrail 2.0 aims to improve post-consumer recycling using digital watermarks, with the aim of moving closer to a circular economy.

HolyGrail has been a full-value chain pre-competitive collaboration project (29 members - see picture) investigating how tagging of packaging can have a drastic impact on more accurate sorting and high-quality recycling. The key precepts behind the project are that, once packaging is designed for circularity and the collection challenge (which includes putting right collection system in place and consumer participation) are solved, high quality sorting is a crucial step to improving current recycling rates and ensuring better recyclate enters the packaging stream. Digital watermarks are basically “imperceptible codes” applied to artwork/design of a package or directly into the mold. No special ink nor special printing equipment is required to implement. The "barcode of recycling" has been worked within the New Plastics Economy from the Ellen MacArthur foundation and is now entering a second phase (HolyGrail 2.0), focussing on more brand owners and retailers to implement Digital Watermarks in their packaging. This will allow waste manufacturers to invest in add-on modules (linked to existing sorters) that can read these codes, allowing them to sort/recycle much better than today. Currently over 170 cross-value chain members have shown interest to participate, and the project will be chartered under an EU association that has created a Platform to further develop and run a National test market. Once packaging is designed for circularity, the collection challenge and consumer participation are solved, high quality sorting is indeed crucial to increase current poor recycling rates. By improved sorting, quality and quantities of recycled materials will be drastically increased, thereby helping the transition to a Circular Economy as more and better recyclate can enter the marketplace. HolyGrail has mainly been established to bring innovation in the field of sorting technologies. One of the investigated technologies (Digital Watermarks) has great potential to also bring disruption into other fields, such as consumer engagement and retail, enabled by the creation of "smart/intelligent" packaging.

Label Date January 2020
From United States
Maturity stage Prototype testing in the real world

Sectors - Value chain - Application

Design, Power & Produce
Package & Distribute
Use & Efficiency
Valorize & Restore
Value Chain Steps
  • /

The environmental benefits

  • By increasing recycling rates drastically (enabled by better sorting through Digital Watermarks), CO2 savings of 7.48 million tons could be generated
  • Intelligent packaging can contribute to realize circular economies faster, by using the intelligence with consumers (consumer engagement/info on how to recycle) and sorting/recycling centers

The Financial benefits

  • Reach payback in 10 months
  • Economic benefits are generated across the value chain

Activity Region

  • /
  • Headquarters
  • Activity

Labeled Solutions in the news!

HolyGrail 2.0: ground-breaking recycling project enters its next stage with cross-industry backing

HolyGrail, led by Procter and Gamble’s Gian De Belder, will be put into practice on a much greater scale and scope. This will include the launch of an industrial pilot with the aim of proving the viability of digital watermarks technologies for more accurate sorting of packaging.

New recyclable box announced for 'iconic' Ferrero Rocher range

Ferrero Rocher chocolate range will have a recyclable box. Company says new design will use 40% less plastic for its 16-piece box. New 16- and 30-piece boxes will have at least a 30% lower carbon footprint.

Digital watermarks for smart packaging recycling

Digital watermarks are imperceptible codes, the size of a postage stamp, covering the surface of a consumer goods packaging. They can carry a wide range of attributes such as manufacturer, SKU, type of plastics used and composition for multilayer objects, and food vs. non-food usage.

Multi-Color Corporation & Digimarc Collaborate on Food Traceability Solution and Recycling Initiative with Orkla

Essity Joins European Initiative To Improve Plastic Recycling

Essity is part of the Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0. The initiative is a large-scale pilot project driven by AIM - European Brands Association and powered by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. Digital watermarks are invisible codes the size of a postage stamp.

Supermarket rollout begins for CurvCode digital watermarking technology

Bond Seafood’s tray for fish was developed by MULTIVAC. It is reportedly made of recycled PET and features the CurvCode watermark. The new packaging will be used for Bond Seafood products like smoked mackerel and herring fillets at Jumbo Supermarkets.

Packaging Project Combines Thin Walls, Recycled Content and High Speeds

The Thin Wall Integra project combined the technical acumen of Arburg France, Collomb, Pagès Group, Verstraete, Koch-Technik and Borealis. The result? Fully automated molding of a thin-walled IML-decorated container in a 5-sec cycle.

Amcor joins Digital Watermarks Initiative to improve packaging recycling

Amcor has pledged to make all its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The company is leveraging its scale and drawing on R&D, with more than US$ 100 million (approximately Rs 735 crore) annual investment.

Procter & Gamble Plans To Go 100% Recyclable By 2030

HolyGrail 2.0 launched

AIM, the European Brands Association, has launched HolyGrail 2.0 with Mondi and other partners across the value chain. The initiative aims to prove the viability of digital watermarking for sorting waste at scale.

Digimarc at Center of Pan-European Development of Digital Watermarking for Improved Plastic Sortation and Recycling

Digital Watermarks for Recycling Plastic Packaging: Who, What, Why, and Where?

Digital watermarks are an enabling technology for permitting automated sortation of plastic packaging by recycling facilities using a hidden mark. The technology has so much utility and potential for recycling it’s referred to as Holy Grail 2.0. PepsiCo, Mondelēz, and Nestlé, as well as industry associations such as AIM, the European Brands Association.

Paccor looks to boost recycle rates with digital barcode technology

Paccor said 50% of plastic ends up in the residual waste by mistake, which is burned without being sorted. The company said this is the first time it is possible to differentiate between food and non-food packaging.

BASF Joins Digital Watermark Initiative HolyGrail 2.0 - Covering the Printing Inks, Coatings and Allied Industries - Ink World

BASF joins forces with AIM to develop new technology to help reduce plastic waste. Aims to make it easier to sort, label, label and label plastic.

P&G announces commitment to net zero emissions by 2040

P&G has announced its Climate Transition Action Plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its supply chain by 2040. The company cites scientific research published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a clear call for ‘decisive action’ to address the climate crisis.

Digimarc to serve as principal technology for HolyGrail 2.0 initiative

Digimarc platform selected as principal technology of ‘HolyGrail 2.0’ Cross-value chain initiative to evaluate whether a new digital technology can improve sorting and higher-quality recycling rates for packaging.

European Brands Association's HolyGrail 2.0 tests viability of digital watermarking technologies

The European Brands Association (AIM), Brussels, has launched HolyGrail 2.0. The pilot project is aimed at proving the viability of digital watermarking technologies for accurately sorting recyclables. More than 85 companies and organizations from the packaging value chain have signed up.

Leading Consumer Brands Ariel, Pantene and Fairy Accelerate Journey to Deliver P&G's Ambition 2030


Company Profile

Procter & Gamble - P&G

P&G was founded over 180 years ago as a soap and candle company.

View company profile
Headquarters Cincinnati, OH 45202, USA
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The information set out above, is solely for the purposes of information and the Solar Impulse Foundation does not provide any guarantee as to its authenticity, completeness or accuracy. This information does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation to buy into, transact or to enter into any agreement with any of the parties or persons mentioned above. Potential investors or interested parties are solely responsible for their investment or business decisions and for performing any due diligence required by the circumstances.