The HolyGrail 2.0 initiative launched last year driven by AIM - European Brands Association and powered by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. Now over 130 companies joined forces with the ambitious goal to prove the viability of digital watermarking technologies for accurate sorting and the business case at a large scale. During the project new type of add-on modules are being developed by two machine vendors, Pellenc ST and Tomra together with digital watermarks provider Digimarc. With these add-on modules first the sorting machines are capable of efficiently detect and separate digitally watermarked packaging from packaging waste. By the end of Phase 1 the success criteria of this phase was that the unit was capable to detect and sort digitally watermarked packaging of various sizes.

AIM - the European Brands Association, and the City of Copenhagen hosted the third Open House at the Amager Resource Centre (ARC) in Copenhagen on 18th November 2021. On this tour the visitors both virtually and in person got the chance to witness the demonstration of how the machine prototype and the digital watermarks technology work. In Phase 2 during the semi-industrial trials, the system is tested for speed, accuracy and detection efficiency. In the controlled tests in October and November industrial-sized equipment was used to test the efficiency of sorting on hundreds of several types of plastic packaging. Through the testing phase not only different types of plastic were observed from PET through flexibles until fibres but the experts also managed to reproduce the harsh conditions under the plastic waste goes through until it reaches a waste sorting facility. This way it can be also tested if the scanning is successful with crumpled and damaged packaging material. The industrial machine used at the event combined the add-on module capable of scanning digital watermarks with the traditional NIR/VIS spectroscopy technology.

Click here to see more information about the open house in Copenhagen.

In Phase 3 in 2022 the project will work on an even wider scale. Pending successful completion of the semi-industrial tests, brand owners and retailers will then bring their enhanced products commercially to the market in three EU countries: Denmark, France and Germany.  

GS1 participates in the project as the lead of Work Package 5 responsible for Data Management to ensure that the result of the project will be available to every stakeholder in an open and neutral way. Standardisation is always a crucial step towards making new technologies widely known by getting a common understanding of the process by the different stakeholders.  

If you have any further questions please contact our GS1 in Europe team: Francesca Poggliali ( or Ildikó Lieber  (