Essity, in collaboration with 130 companies, is working to develop the technical capacity of digital watermarks to improve the sorting accuracy of packaging waste, as well as the economic viability of the large-scale business case.
“The Digital Watermarks initiative will increase plastic packaging recycling rates and open access to higher quality recycled materials for industry to improve packaging circularity, moving us closer to a circular economy. Essity’s products and solutions are necessities in people’s daily lives, and we want to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle, including after product use, ”says Volker Zöller, president of goods at consumption at Essity.
Digital watermarks are invisible codes the size of a postage stamp. After the packaging enters a waste sorting facility, a high-resolution camera decodes the watermark and sorts the plastic waste accordingly. This will greatly improve the sorting accuracy of post-consumer packaging waste and provide a better quality of recycled material for reuse. It will also improve the availability of recycled materials in the supply chain, allowing Essity and other companies to use more recycled plastic in their packaging.
Essity’s ambition is to improve the well-being of people around the world through its hygiene and health products, at the same time as reducing its environmental footprint. Developing products and services for a circular society requires creative thinking, new business models and partnerships. Essity is targeting 100% recyclability and 85% renewable or recycled materials in its packaging by 2025. In 2020, the company’s packaging was made from 77% renewable or recycled materials. These goals are part of Essity’s Commitment to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment to Eliminate Plastic Pollution, The Global Commitment.