Avery Dennison Pure RFID Products Boast Sustainability

Published: October 10, 2023

The technology company’s new line of sustainable tags and inlays are made with aluminum antennas on paper substrates, making them recyclable, with either five percent or no plastic material.

Avery Dennison Smartrac has released a line of sustainable RFID tags and inlays aimed at the retail, healthcare, and logistics industries. Known as the Pure Line – which includes Pure and Pure 95 products – the tags and inlays are either 100 percent or 95 percent plastic-free. That makes them recyclable at the end of life in cases where they are attached to paper or cardboard items. In addition, the company says, it makes the tags using more sustainable processes than traditional etching methods. In fact, according to Avery Dennison, these new labels generate between 70 and 90 percent less carbon emissions than traditional tags. The first AD Pure and AD Pure 95 inlays and tags are available in volume now.

As RFID tags multiply in applications across retail and other sectors (to track goods and assets), their sustainability has been questioned for some uses. Standard tags are made with polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), a plastic material substrate that provides durability but creates a recycling challenge.

“There are applications where there is a need for RFID inlays that include PET,” says Mathieu de Backer, Avery Dennison’s innovation and sustainability VP.  He points to the example of outdoor locations or other environments subjected to water or heavy moisture.

However, he says, “In many applications, plastic’s extra robustness is unnecessary.” Instead, the recyclability of packaging and its tags is a key challenge. So, the Avery Dennison Pure Line is designed to be an alternative.

More Sustainable Production

All standard or sustainable RFID tags consist of an RFID chip or integrated circuit, an antenna to receive and transmit signals, and a substrate on which the chip and antenna are attached. In the case of standard RFID tags, many antennas are made of copper and are deposited on the substrate with the chip. Subsequent etching of the copper antenna requires chemicals that create a corrosive reaction and a considerable amount of water, resulting in wastewater that can pollute the environment.






However, constructing the Pure Line portfolio minimizes the need for different material layers. “Avery Dennison has developed innovative die-cut and laser-based antenna manufacturing technologies where the aluminum antenna is made directly on a paper substrate,” de Backer says, without requiring an adhesive or bonding material. In this way, he says, inlays and tags using this antenna are 100 percent plastic-free. And the non-etching production process typically provides between 70 and 90 percent savings in carbon footprint compared to traditional etching methods, de Backer says.

If the Pure tags enter the recycling process with cardboard or paper, they will disintegrate, and the paper fibers can be recycled.  Additionally, the company says its tags are up to 44 percent lighter weight than standard products due to the lack of plastic – meaning less raw materials and waste. The company has received paper recyclability certificates for the new product after completing testing for paper recyclability by third-party laboratory Thinkstep, a Sphera company, using recyclability testing known as PTS-RH 021:97/2012.  While most Pure product lines are 100 percent plastic-free, the Pure 95 products employ a small plastic strap for memory chip attachment, representing five percent of the material.

AD Pure and AD Pure 95

The first products now available in the Pure Line include the AD-23x U9 Pure 95 inlay, which the company says provides maximum performance on a footprint of 70 by 14.5 millimeters. The inlay leverages NXP’s UCODE 9 chip and is designed for various RFID tagging applications, including supply chain, inventory and logistics, apparel, and home essentials. A plastic strap is used for the memory chip attachment, making it 95 percent plastic-free.

The AD Belt U9 Pure similarly employs the NXP UCODE 9 chip, with dimensions of 73 by 14 millimeters (2.75 by .55 inches), is 100 percent plastic-free.

Both new Pure Line products feature 96-bit of EPC memory and 96-bit unique factory-locked tag ID (TID) number. A 48-bit unique serial number is factory-encoded into the TID. Delivery formats include dry, wet, and pressure-sensitive labels.

Regarding the cost, “Pure portfolio products are competitively priced,” says de Backer, although he declined to list exact figures. The products are being tested or acquired in apparel, manufacturing, retail, beauty, and logistics applications.

Avery Dennison sees sustainability benefits for those using Pure products, also because the use of RFID technology, in general, can reduce waste in supply chains. “Our Pure products support a circular economy as they are made in a climate-neutral, resource-efficient way, and designed via eco-design approach,” de Backer says.

“We are firmly committed to helping our customers achieve their sustainability objectives,” he says. This includes developing RFID inlays and labels with an ultra-low carbon footprint, using recyclable materials, and delivering plastic-free solutions. By 2030, the company intends to deliver a sustainable choice for every label in its portfolio.

Key Takeaways

  • Pure and Pure 95 inlays and tags from Avery Dennison are now available on recyclable packaging and labels.
  • The product line aims to provide a more sustainable product for UHF RFID tags or inlay users.