ably higher than what can be achieved today with watermark technology. He also believes the costs of implementing TBS technology are lower. The technology involves the use of fluorescent

Above: Polysecure fluorescent tracers on plastics packaging

embedded into packaging via modifications to the moulds (see Plastics Recycling World September- October 2020). Digimarc has announced that it has entered semi-industrial trials within the HolyGrail 2.0 initiative. “HolyGrail 2.0 is on track to launch the highly anticipated phase of in-market demonstra- tions and industrial-scale trials, with the potential for digitally watermarked products to be added to stores in Denmark, France, and Germany by the first half of 2022,” it says. Digimarc is working with Pellenc ST and Tomra to develop add-on modules for their detection sorting units. Testing is scheduled to take place via trials in two test locations in October this year. Demonstrations of the prototype sorting detection unit will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark. An alternative method for adding identifiers is the use of tracers, which are already well-estab- lished as anti-counterfeiting measures. German company Polysecure has developed a Tracer- Based Sorting (TBS) technology platform of marker materials and detection methods. “Products and materials can be directly marked, practicably authenticated, tracked in a tamper-proof manner and reliably sorted,” it says. Managing Director Jochen Moesslein says

Polysecure technology has numerous merits. He says: “The circular economy requires that a sorting technology can detect all packaging types with a reliability of close to 100%. Only then these detected types can be allocated correctly to defined sorting fractions. Only then can we generate high-quality, well-specified plastic recyclates that the brands will reuse.” He says: “The market needs a detection technol- ogy which correctly detects and differentiates objects and materials with a reliability of 98% and more. Our technology achieves this. We can already [show] proof that our detection is over 98% for any type of packaging, be it small, large, rigid, flexible, printed or not printed.” He claims this is consider-


tracers incorporated into the plastics products or labels, which can be detected in milliseconds without any background noise. Polysecure says fast and reliable detection is possible despite low tracer concentrations, and despite deformation and impurities. “Reliable positive sorting becomes feasible, paving the way to much purer and much better specified recyclates than today,” says Moesslein. The tracers can be defined for any desired

fraction of waste streams, making it possible to separate PET trays and PET bottles, PE food and PE non-food, PP mono- and PP multilayer or even PP homo- and copolymer. “With plastic packaging, the tracers can be put onto the packaging by integration into one ink,” says Moesslein. “An area of 1cm2

and 200 µg of

tracers per packaging are sufficient. Alternatively, the tracers can be homogenised in the plastic compounds; on average, 5 ppm of tracer material is sufficient. In this case the tracers could be used for sorting (and identification) in as many recycling cycles as the plastic compounds are still usable. Regarding the tracers themselves, testing by independent labs has proven that their bio-com- patibility is very good. Polysecure tracers are already approved for drinking water contact. Food contact approval is expected soon.” Another important aspect of TBS is that it works as an addition to conventional multiple-step NIR sorting facilities and also as a new one-step-only- sorting-solution, says Moesslein. “In the latter case, packaging waste is identified in one sophisticated detection module and then sorted in as many fractions needed, just like letter sorting. Obviously, this setup allows easy upscaling and flexibility regarding the sorting fractions.”



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