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Digimarc digitization platform improves flexible packaging sortation, says Canadian Circular Plastics Taskforce pilot

Bales of plastic materials are stacked in the snow
The project assessed the effectiveness of Digimarc Recycle in optimizing the sortation of flexible plastic packaging in Canada. Source: Adobe Stock Images

Digimarc Corporation has released positive results from a Canadian recycling pilot project assessing the effectiveness of Digimarc Recycle in improving recycling sortation.

The project – what Digimarc says is a first in North America – assessed the effectiveness of Digimarc Recycle in optimizing the sortation of flexible plastic packaging in Canada and was undertaken in conjunction with the Circular Plastics Taskforce (CPT), participating converters, and Pellenc ST.

The CPT aims to drive 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 satisfying the enhancement guidelines set by Digimarc. The results show consistent behaviour 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 an 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."

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.

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