Mondelez & AIM partner to trial digital watermarks for packaging recycling

Move to enable smarter packaging recycling in Europe

Mondelēz is committed to making 100% of its packaging recyclable and labeled with consumer information by 2025 as part of its ‘pack light and pack right’ approach. Photo - Mondelēz

Mondelēz International has partnered with AIM – the European Brands Association – alongside other European companies and organizations, to trial pioneering digital technology, to assess whether it could enable better sorting and higher-quality recycling rates for packaging in the EU.

AIM is the European Brands Association representing brand manufacturers in Europe on key issues that affect their ability to design, distribute, and market their brands. AIM’s membership comprises 2500 businesses ranging from SMEs to multinationals, directly or indirectly through its corporate and national association members.

According to Mondelez, one of the biggest obstacles to creating a circular economy is the sorting of post-consumer waste by accurately identifying packaging, which would result in more efficient and higher-quality recycling. As part of a cross-value chain initiative under the name of HolyGrail 2.0, an industrial pilot has been launched to prove the viability of digital watermark technologies for more accurate sorting of packaging and higher-quality recycling, as well as the business case at scale.

This collaboration forms a part of Mondelēz international’s global strategy to deliver against its long-term vision for zero-net waste packaging by 2025. It will be done through supporting industry coalitions and public-private partnerships to improve recycling infrastructures and create a circular economy so that waste becomes a valued commodity and stays within the economy rather than ending up in the environment. Mondelēz said it is committed to making 100% of its packaging recyclable and labeled with consumer information by 2025 as part of its ‘pack light and pack right’ approach.

Michael Stumpf, Europe RDQ packaging sustainability manager, Mondelēz International, said“We are excited to be joining this innovative pilot, HolyGrail 2.0 is a further step towards our goal of zero-net waste packaging by 2025. We want to remove barriers to recycling efficiency and believe that when business unites under a common goal we can create positive impact at scale for people and planet.”

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, food vs non-food usage, and others.

The aim is that once the packaging has entered into a waste sorting facility, the digital watermark can be detected and decoded by a standard high-resolution camera on the sorting line, which then, based on the transferred attributes, can sort the packaging into corresponding streams. This would result in better and more accurate sorting streams, resulting in higher-quality recyclates, benefiting the complete packaging value chain. Next to this digital recycling passport, digital watermarks also can be used in other areas such as consumer engagement, supply chain visibility, and retail operations.


The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here