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2021/10/19

Kao Commits to Better Sorting and Higher-quality Recycling Rates for Packaging in the EU with Membership of the Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0

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  • Kao joins HolyGrail 2.0 with more than 130 members from across the packaging value chain underscoring Kao's Zero Waste ambition.
  • Digital Watermarks on consumer goods packaging will enable optimized sorting of post-consumer waste, leading to more efficient and higher quality recycling.
  • First semi-industrial test phase will be conducted in Copenhagen over the next months.
  • HolyGrail 2.0 is a pilot project driven by AIM – European Brands Association and powered by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.

As part of the company's ESG strategy and Zero Waste mission, Kao has joined the Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0 with the aim to support better sorting and higher-quality recycling rates for packaging in the EU.

Digital watermarks are imperceptible codes, the size of a postage stamp, covering the surface of a consumer goods packaging and carrying a wide range of attributes, which enable more accurate sorting streams, resulting in higher-quality recyclates benefiting the complete packaging value chain.

In the next months, a semi-industrial test phase will be conducted with the help of a prototype sorting detection unit based in Copenhagen. If this trial is successful, the next step will be a commercial test phase which will involve consumers being able to buy products with digitally watermarked packaging.

Nicola Bäuerle, Director Sustainability, Kao Consumer Division AEMEA says: "At Kao, we recognize that, in order to support consumers living a more sustainable lifestyle, it is vital for us to collaborate with other industry partners, deepen our mutual understanding of the products and packaging we use, and how to sustainably dispose of them. That is why we are thrilled to join forces with more than 130 members of HolyGrail 2 to enable better sorting and higher-quality recycling rates for packaging in the EU, to drive a truly circular economy."

Joining HolyGrail 2.0 further underpins Kao's Zero Waste ambitions, which are anchored in the company's global ESG strategy – the Kirei Lifestyle Plan. By 2030, Kao aims to empower at least 1 billion by 2030, to enjoy more sustainable lives and have 100% of its products leave a full lifecycle environmental footprint that science says our natural world can safely absorb.

The Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0 – driven by AIM - European Brands Association and powered by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, as the next iteration of the initial HolyGrail project under the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2016-2019) – is a pilot project with the objective to prove the viability of digital watermarking technologies for accurate sorting and consequently higher-quality recycling, as well as the business case at large scale.

For an overview on the initiative, please visit

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