Groundbreaking sorting technology for packaging waste to be tested in Copenhagen

Dansk Retursystem is among the participants in HolyGrail2.0, which is an international collaboration with the European Brand Association, AIM towards a new cutting-edge technology for sorting packaging waste.

6. september 2021

More than 130 companies and organisations throughout the packaging value chain across the EU have joined forces for a new ground-breaking solution. HolyGrail 2.0. deploys digital watermarks to ensure better sorting and higher quality in the recycling of packaging waste. The ambitions of the partnership are sky high.

HolyGrail2.0 has the potential t revolutionise the way we sort packaging waste

The project is led by European Brand Association, AIM with financial support from Alliance to End Plastic Waste, (AEPW). The solution is based on a potentially revolutionary technology employing digital watermarks that can contain detailed information about the product they are applied to.

Some of the participating companies in the project, including Arla, Coop, Danone, Nestlé, Orkla, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Schulstad, will soon implement digital watermarks on selected products. The sorting solution is to be tested during autumn 2021 at the City of Copenhagen’s test facility at ARC – Amager Resource Centre. Here, a “semi-industrial” test will be carried out over a period of 3 months before the final tested solution in 2022 is demonstrated at full-scale in sorting plants in Germany and France.

The technology can contribute positively to extending producer responsibility
The trade association for Danish brand suppliers, MLDK, which is part of the partnership, is very excited about the prospects of the project in relation to the extended producer responsibility, which is soon to be implemented:

“We are happy and proud to help, test and promote digital watermarks in the HolyGrail project together with our Danish and international members,” says Niels Jensen, Director of MLDK. “We see great value in working with the grocery trade, the City of Copenhagen and a number of other players, as it shows that we share the goal of ensuring that used packaging does not end up as waste, but as a resource for new products. The project can also contribute positively to the future producer responsibility for packaging imported into Denmark from 1 January 2025.”

Revolutionising waste management
Digital watermarks are invisible to the naked eye and can therefore be printed all over the product packaging. This allows for a much more detailed automatic sorting of products during the waste phase than has so far been possible.

“HolyGrail 2.0 has the potential to revolutionise the way we sort packaging waste”, says Merete Kristoffersen, Head of Unit in Waste and Resources, City of Copenhagen. “We can sort food contact approved packaging, monolayer packaging and other specific product types. This will lead to much higher quality secondary raw materials and be an important step towards reusing food packaging for new food packaging, which is a cornerstone of Copenhagen Municipality’s plans for plastic recycling.”

Dansk Retursystem is also part of the project, and Market Director Marlene Holmgaard Fris says: “We certainly look forward to contributing to the collaboration and to the new test centre in Copenhagen. Together with the citizens of Denmark, we have created an effective platform that allows consumers to dispose of bottles and cans in a simple and responsible way and have them recycled in a closed loop for new packaging. We continue to pursue our goal of 99% recycling. That is why innovation, and the use of new technology are important elements for us – and a natural next step in the development of a circular economy, of which Dansk Retursystem is already a textbook example.”

For further information, please contact:

Anne-Mette Bundgaard Sørensen, Head of Communications and Branding, Dansk Retursystem, Tel. +45 4332 3410