Milliken to join the Digital Watermark Project, HolyGrail 2.0

HolyGrail 2.0 working to prove viability of digital watermarking technologies for accurate sorting of packaging at scale

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Milliken
Milliken to join the Digital Watermark Project, HolyGrail 2.0, a cutting-edge European initiative to drive a truly circular economy.

Milliken & Company’s chemical division, an enterprise in sustainability and the drive to improve the recyclability of plastics, has joined the Digital Watermarks Project, a large-scale initiative testing the viability of digital watermarking technologies for the accurate sorting of plastics.

The Digital Watermarks Project was part of a pioneering initiative facilitated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, HolyGrail 1.0, that brought together brand owners, retailers, recyclers, packaging producers, and sorting technology providers from across the plastics value chain to investigate ways to improve the sorting of post-consumer plastics.

Within HolyGrail 1.0, digital watermarks were found to be the most promising technology, and a basic proof-of-concept for smart sorting was developed. HolyGrail 2.0, the 2nd iteration facilitated by AIM, the European Brands Association, will take this initiative to the next stage by validating the concept and the technology on a semi-industrial scale.

Milliken

This is a great initiative with buy-in from across the plastics value chain. Sustainability, innovation, and digital are being combined to help achieve the objective of the European Green New Deal to make the EU’s economy sustainable by 2050. We are proud to be part of something that can help to drive a circular plastics economy,” said Wim Van de Velde, Milliken’s vice president Europe, Middle-East and Africa (chemical division).

The second phase will aim to test sorting efficiencies, consumer engagement, and distribution tracking. It will require the participation of a large critical mass of brand owners and retailers who will need to modify product packaging with digital watermarks provided by the technology partner(s). The technology partners will adapt larger sorting facilities to incorporate watermark readers necessary to process at a large scale.

At Milliken, we are passionate about transforming the impact that plastics have on the environment for the better. One of our key priorities is to improve the recyclability of plastics by developing additives that improve the performance of polyolefins and allow for higher percentages of post-consumer resin. HolyGrail 2.0 fits into our vision of a circular future,” explained Wim Van de Velde.

Following the validation of the Digital Watermarking Project at semi-industrial scale, packaging coded with digital watermarks will be introduced in a national test market. The project is scheduled to report on its findings in mid-2022.

Materials science enterprise Milliken & Company knows that a single molecule has the potential to change the world. With innovative solutions across the textile, flooring, specialty chemical, and healthcare industries, Milliken answers some of the world’s greatest challenges. Named to the World’s Most Ethical Companies list by Ethisphere Institute for 14 years, the Company meets the moment with an unwavering commitment to delivering sustainable solutions for its customers and communities. Eight thousand associates across 46 locations globally rally behind a common purpose – to positively impact the world for generations.

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.

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