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Smartrac to Sell Its Smallest Green Inlay

The UHF RFID EAGLE Green Tag includes a paper substrate, a laser-cut aluminum antenna and minimal adhesives to ensure the inlay, commonly used in price labels, can be recycled or composted.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 12, 2019

As part of its Green Tag program to offer recyclable and sustainable alternatives to standard plastic RFID inlays, Smartrac has released an environmentally friendly RFID tag designed for price labels. The EAGLE Green Tag will serve the retailer and brand market, the company reports, with a paper-based product that can be recycled or composted. The tag is manufactured in a more sustainable way, the firm adds, in part by the elimination of the chemical-based etching process.

The EAGLE Green Tag is designed as an alternative to Smartrac's existing EAGLE tag. Customers using the standard version can swap it out without requiring changes to a user's overall RFID system, says Matti Tavilampi, Smartrac's director of product management. "We want to make it as easy as we can for the customer to start using green products," he explain. Therefore, Tavilampi says, "There is no need to readjust the read set-ups." The new tag is expected to be made commercially available during the first quarter of 2020.

Smartrac's EAGLE Tag
The EAGLE Green Tag is the second new product released in the Green Tag program, which launched in January of this year. The first was the WEB Green Tag (see Smartrac and 4E Antenna Form Partnership to Strengthen Sustainability in RFID Products). Smartrac presented the WEB Green inlay at this year's RFID Journal LIVE! conference, held this past April in Phoenix, Ariz.

The tags are designed for the unique identification of goods such as apparel and electronics, the company reports, and are suitable for item-level retail applications. Volume production of the WEB Green inlay began in June 2019. Both the EAGLE Green and WEB Green tags are compliant with other comparable inlays in terms of performance and applications, according to Smartrac. The EAGLE is similar to the WEB but is smaller in size, for use in smaller-footprint price labels or hangtags.

Smartrac says it launched the Green Tag program to offer the greatest possible, truly sustainable manufacturing processes offering carbon dioxide reduction and the use of lower-impact materials. According to the Green Tag model, the tags will all be plastic-free. That means the substrate material (paper) is recyclable or compostable, while there is less material overall. The tags can typically be made with just two layers, as opposed to three or more with a plastic tag.

"The paper we use is free of any micro-plastics," Tavilampi says. Smartrac purchases the paper it uses from sustainable forests where new trees are planted, he notes, in an effort to make sustainable products. An adhesive is used to attach the IC to the substrate—but with fewer layers, he adds, the tags overall will have significantly less adhesive.

When it comes to the antenna, no heavy metals are used and laser-etching replaces the chemical-etching process. The company has partnered with 4E Antenna AB, which provided the aluminum antennas that are being laser-cut for both new Green products. By laser-cutting the aluminum antennas, Tavilampi explains, the company eliminates the need for chemicals and thereby keeps the unused metal residue clean for recycling.

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