Digital watermarks

make packaging smart and easier to sort

One of the key challenges standing in the way of a well-functioning circular economy is the need to make sorting household waste simpler and more effective. Improving how packaging is identified before recycling actually begins, for example, would make the process much more efficient and raise the quality of recycled materials. As a packaging manufacturer that actively promotes a sustainable circular economy, Greiner Packaging is committed to the development of digital watermarks.

This new technology paves the way for:

  • Smart packaging
  • Easier sorting
  • Higher recycling rates
  • Better recycled material quality

The aim is to recycle as much of our packaging as possible easily and effectively in the future to extend the life cycle of packaging and give it real added value.

Consumer engagement through unique augmented reality experiences

Digital watermarks put packaging on the right track

When a used packaging item is collected and sent to a sorting system that recognizes its digital watermark, the system is able to detect and decode the watermark on the sorting belt using a standard high-resolution camera. Depending on the attributes communicated by the watermark, the packaging can then be automatically directed to the right sorting stream, ultimately resulting in “cleaner” streams and higher-quality recycled materials.

However, digital watermarks can do much more than just carry information about packaging characteristics for use in the sorting process. In fact, they offer real added value at every stage of the packaging journey, from scanning at the checkout counter and carrying additional offers to boost consumer loyalty to making the entire supply chain even more transparent.

How digital watermarks work

Click on the red dots to find out more

Algorithms and software convert the pixels into signals

Tiny codes, invisible to the human eye

Light, invisible contrasting pixels incorporated into the packaging design or embossing in the plastic cup

Mosaic of repeating signal tiles

Integration of the watermarks in the packaging design or by means of embossing directly in the plastic cup.


The new technology offers unlimited possibilities for including a wide range of data on packaging, allowing the data and information to be amended at any time without needing to change the packaging.

Improve sorting rates, accuracy and quality of the recyclates, diverting packaging from landfills and oceans.

All the stored information can be used along the entire value chain – from the manufacturing stage through recycling.

Get in touch today

Want to speak with our digital watermarking experts? Get in touch. 

We will get back to you as soon as we can.

Wide range of decoration options

Greiner Packaging is able to integrate digital watermarks simply and invisibly into various forms of decoration. The technology allows the data to be changed at any time without the need to modify the packaging design itself.

The advantages of smart sorting lie in the system

They are not yet fully available, but here is a brief outline of the range of future possibilities.
  • Food/nonfood
  • Material composition
  • Proportion of postconsumer recycled (PCR) material
  • Identification of manufacturer/brand owner
  • Identification of new materials
  • Mono-/multimaterial packaging
  • Improve sorting rates, accuracy and quality of the recyclates, diverting packaging from landfills and oceans.
  • Efficient supply chain management
  • Product traceability
  • Error prevention, such as incorrect packaging, labeling, or product
  • Simple, high-speed scanning along the supply chain
  • No drop in the productivity of camera inspection systems
  • Uninterrupted, automated inventory management
  • Additional digital product information (nutritional value, allergens, origin, use, corporate social responsibility)
  • Marketing campaigns, flexible and dynamic in real time
  • Cross-selling/upselling
  • Faster checkout/scanning
  • Shorter lines at the checkout
  • Prevention of human errors
  • Ability to scan damaged labels
  • Unique AR experiences
  • Greater product transparency
  • Direct communication with customers
  • Consumer engagement:
    • Added value in the form of recipes, inspiring suggestions, ideas, games, and fun
    • Usage instructions o Links to online stores

HolyGrail 2.0: collective action on digital watermarking

As a proud partner of the HolyGrail 2.0 initiative, driven by the European Brands Association (AIM) and powered by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, Greiner Packaging is helping to accelerate the implementation of digital watermarks on packaging in collaboration with 130+ companies and organisations from the complete packaging value chain.
The objective is to simplify the way used materials are sorted and facilitate higher-quality packaging recycling.
As part of the initiative, brand manufacturers are now working with retailers, converters, systems suppliers, and recycling companies to initiate activities along the length of the value chain, including sampling projects within the industry. By doing so, they aim to test out the feasibility of digital watermarking technologies and demonstrate their potential