The pilot project will start Phase II of the CPT which aims to improve the recycling of all plastic packaging within the EPR landscape in Quebec and Canada


CPT, Digimarc partner to trial plastic packaging sorting technology in Canada. (Credit: Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay)

Canada-based Circular Plastic Taskforce (CPT) has collaborated with Digimarc to test Digimarc Recycle to streamline the sortation of flexible plastic packaging in Canada.

This pilot project, which is said to be the first in North America, will start Phase II of the CPT which aims to improve the recycling of all plastic packaging within the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) landscape in Quebec and Canada.

Digimarc Recycle is the latest innovation in the sorting and recycling of plastic trash in which the digital watermarks are embedded in the packaging artwork without any extra inks or printing process.

When scanned by machine cameras, the watermarks connect to a cloud-based database comprising infinite (and expandable) package attributes, such as the manufacturer and exact product, prior use (food versus non-food), additives, or the existence of recyclable components.

The initial phase of the study involves putting specialised optical sorters to the test in a controlled setting to see if they can capture flexible packaging with digital watermarks.

Following the results of this initial test, the second phase of the project, which is expected to begin in 2023, will put the test in a real-world setting and on a bigger scale.

To do so, sophisticated sorting equipment will be placed in sorting facilities and recyclers throughout Quebec and Ontario, to capture flexible packaging with digital watermarking, said Digimarc.

The entire project also aims to verify Digimarc Recycle’s capacity to provide package traceability.

Circular Plastics Taskforce Steering Committee said: “We are thrilled to launch such a forward-looking project and get our Phase II underway.

“The results from our Phase I study show that even if flexible plastic packaging represents a significant portion of plastic packaging used in Quebec and Canada, their recovery rates remain low.

“One of the reasons is that today’s sortation equipment cannot distinguish between mono-material recyclable packaging and multi-material structures, therefore lowering bale quality. We believe Digimarc Recycle can help solve this challenge.”