Our sustainability vision is a target picture of our commitment to the areas of economy, ecology and social affairs. Only if we set ourselves clear and achievable goals can we shape a sustainable future together.Watch recording now
At SPIES, we consistently combine sustainability and innovation - so that we can meet not only the needs of our customers, but also those of the environment. This claim is our daily incentive to set new milestones.
With a share of sustainable materials, good separability and recyclability towards a sustainable circular economy
Our sustainable use of raw materials for the circular economy
At our 1st stop on the Route to Renewables, the participants of our exclusive webinar on 08 October got exciting insights into the topic of sustainability at SPIES and could additionally experience the first presentation of our new product - the SPIES CC - live.Watch recording now
All the news about our sustainable product innovations
Sustainability, innovation and functionality in harmony
30th August 2022
SPIES wins German Packaging Award 2022
At SPIES, we consistently combine sustainability and innovation and develop products according to the principle of "Design for Sustainability" with the aim of meeting the needs of our world, the people and our customers. True to the motto on the use of materials: "As much as necessary and as little as possible".
With a look at nature, we have found a way to save material: without relevant losses in terms of packaging stability. The innovative honeycomb structure technology reduces the use of plastic by up to 30 %. If desired, the proportion of plastic saved can be further increased and replaced by renewable raw materials.
It is not possible to use recycled materials in every sector. Where this cannot be done, it is all the most important that the packaging is recyclable and that as little material as possible is used.
With the submission of the product innovation "honeycomb structure", SPIES won the German Packaging Award 2022 in the category of sustainability. Now we have the chance to become a gold winner at the FACHPACK 2022 trade fair in September. This additional award stands for particularly groundbreaking innovations from the circle of packaging award winners.
It is therefore fitting that we will be exhibiting at the trade fair for the first time in our more than 55-year company history.
Anyone who is currently concerned with the topics of reusable packaging, circular economy and sustainable packaging solutions is welcome to visit our stand 632 in hall 7 and get an idea of "sustainability in shape".
"Plastics are part of the solution" -
Christof Spies in an interview
14th March 2022
For a functioning circular economy, separation from other materials is necessary - and possible, explains Christof Spies, CEO at SPIES Packaging.
Mr. Spies, every consumer can help to avoid packaging waste in everyday life. But why is packaging indispensable?
Packaging is an all-rounder. They protect our food and increase the shelf life of our food throughout the entire supply chain, from producer to retailer to consumer. Thanks to them, we reduce food waste.
Plastic packaging in particular has a bad reputation. Is that right?
Many people are not aware of the important properties of plastic packaging and a distorted image has been created. Plastic as a valuable material is light, easy to process, has a high availability, is hygienic and safe. Responsible handling of packaging by consumers on the one hand and education of society on the other are necessary. This means that even plastic packaging should not be regarded as waste after use, but as a valuable raw material. The circular economy is the key to this. To achieve the EU's ambitious CO2 targets, plastics are not the problem, but an important part of the solution. The environmental footprint of alternative materials is in many cases worse than that of plastics.
What role does design for recycling play for your company?
At SPIES Packaging, Design for Sustainability is a central cornerstone of our sustainability strategy. We adapt the packaging design to the individual application and only package what is necessary, using as little material as possible.
Is the trend towards more monomaterial?
The trend is toward a circular economy. The use of monomaterial plays the decisive role here in achieving high recycling rates and closing the loop. Due to the bad image of plastic packaging, there is a parallel trend towards hybrid packaging, which is supposedly more environmentally friendly and sustainable. At SPIES Packaging we rely on our 100% recyclable plastic packaging made of mono-material.
Is separability a problem for circular economy and recycling?
The separability of hybrid packaging with regard to a functioning circular economy is a problem. With our current development project "the insertion of digital watermarks into 3D tool structures", we want to make our contribution to the circular economy and sortable packaging. The cameras recognize the digital watermarks and thus form the basis for sortable material separation. We have implemented a successful pilot application and are ready for series production here.
Are the packages from SPIES Packaging certified?
Every collaboration with SPIES Packaging stands as a seal of quality for sustainable packaging solutions. Our processes are certified (FSC 22000, ISO 50001) and our packaging meets the strict requirements of food standards. On request, we offer certified recyclability (usually 100%) and CO2 balancing of the packaging.
Successful semi-industrial validation
of detection sorting unit
30th March 2022
Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0 achieves significant milestone with the successful semi-industrial validation of detection sorting unit
Press release for immediate release – Brussels, 30 March 2022
The Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0, driven by AIM – European Brands Association and powered by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, has achieved a significant milestone with the successful validation, after semi-industrial testing mimicking real-life conditions, of the prototype detection unit for digital watermarks. The results show that the digital watermark technology can achieve more granular sorting of packaging waste at scale, such as developing separate food and other new PCR streams that currently do not exist (e.g. for cosmetic or detergent applications). This would open up new recycling streams, effectively overcoming limitations of current near-infrared (NIR) sorting technologies, and drive a true circular economy for packaging. Consistent high results across all tested categories of plastic packaging material of 99% detection, 95% ejection and 95% purity rates, on average, demonstrate an impressive performance of the first prototype. Developed by the machine vendor Pellenc ST and the digital watermarks technology supplier Digimarc, the detection unit is now ready for industrial-scale pilots, which are planned to start later this year. Details on industrial partners and packaging scope will be released soon.
“We have achieved our objective of proving digital watermarks can increase intelligent sorting of packaging waste at scale, enabling new recycling streams that currently do not exist. This would be a fantastic leap forward in achieving the EU recycling goals,” remarked Michelle Gibbons, Director General of AIM. “Innovation and digital are the core drivers towards the Green Transition and this has been brought to life through HolyGrail 2.0. The engagement across the value chain by dedicated experts and teams to get to this point has been remarkable; now, market participants can decide to be part of industrial-scale pilots, to test this at an even bigger scale in Europe.”
“The completion of the semi-industrial trials is a very important milestone in the HolyGrail 2.0 initiative. We are one step closer to making intelligent waste sorting a reality through digital watermarks,” said Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. “The HolyGrail project is an excellent example of how engaged and committed businesses coming together around a very clear goal can accelerate the development of new solutions. As we move into the next stage of in-market demonstrations, we strongly encourage more businesses and partners to join us in scaling up testing and adoption.”
Timeline of semi-industrial tests and detailed results
The semi-industrial tests of the Pellenc ST/Digimarc prototype started in October 2021 at the Amager Resource Center in Copenhagen. The purpose was to evaluate the technology by replicating real-world industrial conditions. Comprehensive sets of tests were successfully performed on approximately 125,000 pieces of packaging from 260 stock-keeping units (SKUs) at 3 m/s belt speed, with soiling/crushing and throughput representing routine industrial operations. Additional tests were also performed at a higher belt speed of 4.5 m/s, with severe soiling and crushing, without loss of performance.
Validation tests commenced in January 2022 as concluding evaluations of the wide-ranging semi-industrial tests, focusing on the readiness of the Pellenc ST/Digimarc prototype for deployment in large-scale pilots in commercial sorting and recycling facilities. Success criteria included detection efficiency, ejection efficiency, purity, prototype stability and routine function, ease of programming the sorting operation, and counting capabilities of the prototype. The ejection operation comprised a software combination of digital watermark detection and NIR detection to identify both watermarked and non-watermarked items, as would be encountered in an industrial sorting or recycling facility. Based on observations from the January tests, the combined signal of NIR/digital watermark detection was refined to further improve the purity of the sorted output.
Final validation tests were completed this month at the headquarters of Pellenc ST where detection/ejection efficiency and purity for sorting PET, PP and PE rigids and flexible films were evaluated. Each category was sorted at 3 m/s, at as close to nominal throughput and occupancy as feasible for the prototype system setup. Parameters for the combination of digital watermark detection and NIR detection, and for ejection, were set appropriately for each category. The sorting programme was configured to eject or reject items on an SKU-specific basis.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: www.digitalwatermarks.eu
For pictures and details on the Open Houses in Copenhagen: www.digitalwatermarks.eu/openhouses
In 2019, SPIES, was one of the first in our industry to receive the ISCC Plus certification
08th March 2022
This year we have again succeeded in getting this certificate while complying and fulfilling all the requirements. The ISCC PLUS standard officially confirms that we at SPIES use bio-based plastics, which are not produced from fossil petroleum, but from controlled produced bio-oil. Especially the saved fossil raw material plays a major role.
It also certifies that, in addition to bio-based plastics, we can also use chemically recycled plastics. In this case, the oil for plastic production is produced from already used plastics (including packaging) by means of pyrolysis. In addition to saving fossil raw materials, this is an important step in the recycling process on the way to the #circulareconomy.
New partnerships and the
next level of development
06th September 2021
AIM – European Brands Association, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and the City of Copenhagen join forces to start semi-industrial trials in the next phase of testing digital watermarks for intelligent sorting of packaging waste
Brussels, 6 September 2021 – AIM, the European Brands Association, and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste announced today a partnership to drive the next stage of development for intelligent waste sorting under the Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0. They will work with the City of Copenhagen to conduct the semi-industrial test phase of the pilot. With this milestone, developers move one step closer to precision identification and sorting of plastic packaging waste through digital watermarks, with the potential to revolutionise the sorting and recycling process of plastic packaging.
Over the next four months, a prototype sorting detection unit will be installed at the Amager Resource Centre (ARC) in Copenhagen, where the trials and demonstrations with around 125.000 pieces of packaging representing up to 260 different stock-keeping units (SKUs) will be held. Engineers will test for several parameters including the speed and accuracy of the system, to ensure its ability to withstand the pressures of full-scale industrial operations. If successful, digitally watermarked products could be introduced to store shelves in Denmark, France and Germany by the first half of 2022 for in-market demonstrations and industrial-scale trials.
Digital watermarks are imperceptible codes, each the size of a postage stamp. They cover the surface of a consumer goods packaging and carry a wide range of attributes such as packaging type, material and usage.
Used packaging is collected and scanned on the sorting line with a high-resolution camera which detects and decodes the digital watermark. The packaging is then sorted into corresponding streams, based on specified attributes including food, non-food or polymer types. This leads to more accurate sorting streams and higher quality recyclates to be channelled back into the plastic packaging value chain.
Open Houses comprising a virtual tour and demonstration of the prototype sorting detection unit will happen at ARC on 19 October and 18 November 2021. Interested stakeholders can register here.
This milestone marks the second year of the HolyGrail 2.0 project. Since its launch in September 2020, it has grown to include over 130 participating companies and organisations across the complete packaging value chain. The pioneering HolyGrail 1.0 was facilitated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation between 2016 and 2019.
“We are delighted to enter the next phase of semi-industrial testing within the Digital Watermarks Initiative together with our new partner, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste”, said Michelle Gibbons, AIM Director General. “An initiative like this can only thrive with the wide support of different key stakeholders in terms of expertise, but of course also financial support. Collaboration is the way forward to achieve the EU's circular economy goals and we are confident that this technology has the potential to drive a truly circular economy for packaging.”
“Recycling is a key pillar that must be invested in to advance a circular economy in plastic waste. The Alliance is excited to support the scaling of this project in its next phase of progress, in line with our mission to end plastic waste in the environment,” said Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance. “As testing continues, we know there will be many things to solve along the way, but with strong collaboration of our public and private sector partners, we believe intelligent sorting can be a new frontier that could help dramatically improve plastic waste management.”
“The City of Copenhagen has a political ambition to become the world’s first carbon neutral capital by 2025. High quality plastic recycling that substitutes new production and reduces incineration is a key instrument to reach this goal. HolyGrail 2.0 has the potential to achieve this and we look forward to doing our part in the testing of the technology”, said Merete Kristoffersen, Head of Division, Waste and Resources, City of Copenhagen.
Timeline and test markets
With the commencement of semi-industrial trials, HolyGrail 2.0 is on track to get to the exciting phase of in-market demonstrations planned for 2022.
The two machine vendors, Pellenc ST and Tomra, together with the selected digital watermarks technology provider Digimarc, are developing add-on modules for their detection sorting units, to be combined with existing NIR (near infra-red) sorters.
Both modules will be tested during the semi-industrial phase via trials at two different test locations. The first controlled tests using industrial-sized equipment and the Pellenc ST/Digimarc module are scheduled for October 2021 at ARC sorting centre.
Pending successful completion of the semi-industrial trials, brand owners and retailers will then bring their enhanced products to market in Denmark, France and Germany. During this commercial test phase, consumers will buy on-shelf products with digitally watermarked packaging. Used packaging will enter the waste stream after consumption. The sorting units will be placed in 5 different locations in France and Germany, including MRFs (Materials Recovery Facility), PRFs (Plastic Recovery Facility) and recycling plants.
This last phase is scheduled to run until Q3 2022 and a public report outlining the techno-economic analysis of the digital watermark technology for sorting of packaging waste will be issued.
"Plastic is not waste,
but an important resource."
19th May 2021
Plastic is not waste, but an important resource. How it can be recycled better is explained in an interview by Christof Spies, CEO, and Marie Hühne, Sustainability Manager at SPIES Packaging.
Mr. Spies, as the owner of a company with over 50 years of experience in the field of packaging, you know that it is more than just a container. What are the main tasks of packaging?
Christof Spies: Packaging, especially food packaging, is an all-rounder. They protect food so that it keeps fresh throughout the entire value chain, from the producer to the retailer to the consumer. They provide hygiene and safety - two factors that are particularly important in the current corona crisis. During the crisis, foods with a long shelf life were in particular need. Packaging plays a significant role in ensuring the supply and stocking of foodstuffs. That's why our industry is systemically relevant!
Ms. Hühne, as sustainability manager, you draw attention to the fact that food packaging can help to save CO2. How does that work?
Marie Hühne: Unfortunately, a lot of food is still seemingly produced for the garbage can. One third of all food produced worldwide spoils and is not eaten. The CO2 emissions that result from the production of this food are almost equivalent to those of global car traffic. Packaging helps to reduce this waste. Their CO2 footprint is also usually only a fraction of the product being packaged. A good example of this is the cucumber: it has to be imported from southern Europe in the fall and winter months and is shrink-wrapped to preserve it over the long transport distances. Customers wonder about the seemingly unnecessary film, but the fact is: cucumbers that are not packaged age faster and are not bought by customers end up in the garbage can. Packaging therefore helps to prevent a waste of resources.
Plastic is one of the most commonly used packaging materials. Why is this packaging material so popular?
Spies: Plastic is a very versatile material that can be used universally. It offers a high level of hygiene and safety, as it is absolutely germ-free. It is lightweight, resistant to moisture, easy to shape, and yet very stable and break-resistant. In addition, plastic is relatively inexpensive and available in large quantities.
Nevertheless, the image of plastic in society is rather negative. What is the reason for this?
Spies: Unfortunately, society has a very one-sided and false image of plastic packaging. Many people are not even aware of the important properties of plastic packaging. At the same time, images of plastic waste polluting the oceans have become entrenched in many people's minds. However, it is not the material that is to blame for the polluted oceans, but the behavior of society, which simply disposes of plastic in the environment - this should always be kept in mind. What we need, therefore, is a responsible approach to packaging. This means also considering plastic packaging after use not as waste, but as a raw material. The circular economy is the key to this. To achieve the EU's ambitious CO2 targets, plastics are not the problem, but an important part of the solution.
How can we succeed in using more sustainable, circular plastic packaging?
Spies: For wider use of recycled materials, we need recyclates with high purity that are also readily available. That means the industry as a whole should use fewer different types of plastic and avoid composite materials that combine different types of plastic in one package. This would make plastics more sortable and allow them to be more effectively reprocessed and reused in large quantities as a raw material in new packaging. The packaging we produce already has all these properties. We use single-material packaging made from monomaterials that can be 100 percent recycled.
One of the innovations developed by Spies is the S-shaped cup made of monomaterial. What is so special about it?
Spies: Conventional round cups with curved or sinuous contours are difficult to print or label. So-called shrink films are therefore used to decorate the cups. The problem, however, is that these shrink films are made of a different material than the basic cup - which affects the recyclability of the packaging. To solve this problem, we have developed an innovative technology that allows the use of IML labels, a widely used decoration technique, even for difficult contours. The result is packaging made of mono-material that can be fully recycled.
SPIES Packaging is a member of the joint project "Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0". What is that all about?
Hühne: The initiative is a collaborative development project that more than 85 companies from the entire value chain have already joined to develop solutions for better sorting of plastic waste. As part of this project, digital watermarks are now being applied to packaging. The cameras in the recyclers' sorting facilities can read them and recognize which type of plastic it is, but also whether the packaging was used in the food sector. SPIES was involved in this initiative at an early stage as one of the first plastics processors. We have produced prototypes for testing in the pilot plant. The results so far are promising, so further tests on a larger, industrial scale are in the planning stage.
The use of well-recyclable materials is an important step on the road to greater sustainability. How does SPIES also contribute to reducing the CO2 footprint?
Hühne: Ecodesign plays an important role at SPIES: we adapt the packaging design to the individual application and only pack what is necessary, using as little material as possible. Our state-of-the-art machinery with a certified energy management system also enables energy-efficient and resource-saving production. In addition, photovoltaic systems on our hall roofs generate enough green electricity to save an additional 1,500 tons of CO2 annually.
Optimization of sortability
through digital watermarking
08th September 2020
Pioneering digital watermarks for smart packaging recycling in the EU – AIM, the European Brands Association, launches cross-value chain initiative to drive circular economy goals
Press release for immediate release, Brussels, 8 September 2020 – Under the auspices of AIM, the European Brands Association, over 85 companies and organisations from the complete packaging value chain have joined forces with the ambitious goal to assess whether a pioneering digital technology can enable better sorting and higher-quality recycling rates for packaging in the EU, to drive a truly circular economy.
One of the most pressing challenges in achieving a circular economy for packaging is to better sort post-consumer waste by accurately identifying packaging, resulting in more efficient and higher-quality recycling. Digital watermarks may have the potential to revolutionise the way packaging is sorted in the waste management system, as it opens new possibilities that are currently not feasible with existing technologies. The discovery was made under the New Plastics Economy programme of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which investigated different innovations to improve post-consumer recycling. Digital watermarks were found to be the most promising technology, gathering support among the majority of stakeholders and passing a basic proof of concept on a test sorting line. The branded goods industry has now stepped in to facilitate the next phase as cross-value chain initiative under the name “HolyGrail 2.0”, which will take place on a much greater scale and scope. This will include the launch of an industrial pilot in order to prove the viability of digital watermarks technologies for more accurate sorting of packaging and higher-quality recycling, as well as the business case at large scale.
“The 3 key ingredients here are innovation, sustainability and digital, combined to achieve the objective of the Green Deal towards a clean, circular and climate neutral economy”, outlines Michelle Gibbons, Director General at AIM. “It is terrific to see such enthusiasm from across the industry and to be able to unite such expertise from the complete packaging value chain, from brand owners and retailers to converters, EPR schemes, waste management systems, recyclers and many more. Collaboration is the way forward to achieve the EU’s circular economy goals.”
Digital watermarks are imperceptible codes, the size of a postage stamp, covering the surface of a consumer goods packaging. They can carry a wide range of attributes such as manufacturer, SKU, type of plastics used and composition for multilayer objects, food vs. non-food usage, etc. The aim is that once the packaging has entered into a waste sorting facility, the digital watermark can be detected and decoded by a standard high resolution camera on the sorting line, which then – based on the transferred attributes – is able to sort the packaging into corresponding streams. This would result in better and more accurate sorting streams, and thus consequently in higher-quality recyclates, benefiting the complete packaging value chain. Next to this “digital recycling passport”, digital watermarks also have the potential to be used in other areas such as consumer engagement, supply chain visibility and retail operations.
About Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0
The Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0 – facilitated by AIM, the European Brands Association, 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. 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. The aim is that once the packaging has entered into a waste sorting facility, the digital watermark can be detected and decoded by a standard high resolution camera on the sorting line, which then – based on the transferred attributes (e.g. food vs. non-food) – is able to sort the packaging in corresponding streams. This would result in better and more accurate sorting streams, thus consequently in higher-quality recyclates benefiting the complete packaging value chain.
AIM is the European Brands Association representing brand manufacturers in Europe on key issues which affect their ability to design, distribute and market their brands. AIM’s membership comprises 2500 businesses ranging from SMEs to multinationals, directly or indirectly through its corporate and national association members.
SPIES Packaging takes the road to renewable packaging solutions
08th October 2021
In the field of plastic packaging - a market that is looking for and needs sustainability - SPIES Packaging is the driver for new products, solutions and processes in the injection molding segment.
Processing plastic, including alternative plastics, is our core business. In addition to recyclable in-mold label packaging, we are continuously developing new products using renewable raw materials and the sustainable use of plastics, such as IML cups made entirely from polypropylene. At the same time, we are focusing on developments made from plastic fiber compounds that are also fully recyclable after separation.
Protecting food, avoiding food destruction, creating sustainable packaging solutions, thinking ahead and playing a part in returning the environment to its balance - this is our ambition as a manufacturer of packaging.
The next steps are clearly marked out for SPIES: we are about to launch our new products with minimal plastic and fiber components. With the current "route to renewables" we will present different new and sustainable packaging solutions in 3 stops. For this, we welcome you to follow our path in our webinar "Route to renewables - with the SPIES CC towards sustainability", a visit at FAKUMA (Hall B5, Booth 5217, NETSTAL) or live on site in Melle (coming soon).
Our product portfolio of renewables and recyclables will play a central role in offering sustainable solutions to our customers in the future.
Why can we do this? Quite simply, we are and will remain the market leader in individual packaging solutions with expertise in injection molding and IML. We are leading the way with our innovative technologies as a development partner together with our customers in the use of renewable materials. As always with completely individual solutions.
Use of renewable resources, separability, recyclability - ideal for the protection of fossil raw materials
renewable - to protect fossil raw materials
At one glance
The proportional replacement of fossil raw materials with renewable raw materials from controlled cultivation saves resources.
Depending on the composition of the product, the components contained are biodegradable from renewable raw materials as well as recyclable.
Due to the binding of CO² during the life cycle phase, the contained components from renewable raw materials do not release any additional amounts of CO² when they are recycled.
Are you interested in our products or an exchange?CONTACT US!
At our 1st stop on the Route to Renewables, the participants of our exclusive webinar got exciting insights into the topic of sustainability at SPIES and could additionally experience the first presentation of our new product - the SPIES CC - live.Watch recording now
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