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Smartrac Hopes to Release Green RFID Tags Within a Year
The Dutch firm indicates the new passive tags will be almost completely biodegradable after use, to reduce waste, while being priced similarly to current tags.
"It will be a challenge to collect all the transponders and bring them to a recycling station," Rietzler says, "because there will be so many transponders in so many different applications." With biodegradable carrier materials, he explains, it will be much easier to recycle the exposed chip and antenna. At its development center in Bangkok, Thailand, Smartrac is developing at least two lines of transponders.
The first line—anticipated for consumer products and other applications where longevity and robustness are important—will use biopolymer materials, and could have an active lifespan of several weeks or months before decomposing. Rietzler declines to provide additional information regarding the materials or processes his company is considering.
Some of the potential applications envisioned by Rietzler include verifying the legitimacy and safety of goods, tracking logistics in warehouses and identifying checked-in airline luggage.
The second line of transponders will employ paper-based materials for the substrate that could decompose within a matter of days. The antenna and microchip will be made from conventional materials until Smartrac can determine whether it is possible to produce biodegradable chips to substitute for silicon versions.
The paper-based RFID tags would likely see wide usage in ticketing applications (including events and public transportation), have a lifespan of a few hours or days, and decompose quickly upon becoming wet.
The passive transponders being designed for ticketing applications will operate at 13.56 MHz, the company reports, with a goal of achieving an industry-standard read range of 10 centimeters (4 inches). For consumer product applications, the tags will operate in the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) band (900 MHz), and should be readable from up to a distance of 10 meters (33 feet).
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