Edited by Erin La Row, editor, Plastics Decorating
Interactive in-mold labeling (IML) brings labels to life by combining decoration and functionality. Interactive IML labels are enhanced with a Digimarc Barcode. This imperceptible barcode transforms the mono-polypropylene IML packaging into intelligent packaging, offering added value throughout the packaging journey.
Some of the benefits this powerful label technology offers for packaging converters, distributors, brand owners, retailers and consumers include:
- Achieving anti-mixing at the packaging producer and the filling lines
- Tracking and authentication of products
- Protection against counterfeiting
- Consumer engagement and interaction thanks to augmented reality (AR) functionalities
- Big data through consumer information
- 20% faster checkout in stores
- A digital recycling passport making future hyper-sorting possible (HolyGrail2.0-proof)
Simply put, interactive IML gives IML packaging a digital identity, allowing it to give expanded product information or to tell a story. Interactive IML packaging also is fully recyclable.
Trends in North America
Interactive packaging is becoming more popular. Some of the first known uses in IML have been the ability to help with anti-mixing both with the molders as well as the filler.
“We also are seeing requests to help direct consumers to websites and ongoing promotions,” said Brian Roske, regional sales manager in North America for MCC Verstraete. “There also is information coming from retailers that as they move toward more self-checkout, label requirements will change to give a more positive customer experience with an easily scannable package.”
Interactive IML and recycling
Collection and recycling of packaging waste is a big challenge and often not easily understood by consumers. On top of that, brand owners likely will be held responsible to educate consumers. Interactive IML packaging offers huge potential in terms of sorting and recycling.
Combined with an app featuring AR, the packaging can explain to the consumer how it should be recycled. It can connect with the GPS location so that wherever the consumer is, the correct information is provided. At the same time, data is collected that can optimize the way waste is collected and recycled in the future.
On another level, interactive IML allows producers to incorporate a digital recycling passport into the packaging – which could revolutionize sorting and recycling. This passport enables material recycling facilities to sort and recycle more accurately, allowing higher quality recycled materials for reuse, and thus contributing to a circular economy. Over 150 cross-value chain companies are developing and testing this on a large scale in the HolyGrail2.0 project, in which MCC Verstraete was one of the first to participate.