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Embedding plastic NFC tags in reusable packaging

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty


PragmatIC Semiconductor is leading a project to add radio tags to make plastic packaging reusable.

The TRACE (Technology-enabled Reusable Assets for a Circular Economy) project will use PragmatIC’s ultra-low-cost, flexible near field communication (NFC) technology to give reusable containers unique digital identities (UIDs) so that the packages can be efficiently and effectively returned and reused.

The project is part of the £30m InnovateUK Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge that is also funding for 17 other collaborative projects in packaging materials.

The UIDs will be used throughout the lifecycle of the packages: firstly, by all the users in the supply chain to track each item and provide detailed data across the complete cycle of recapture, sorting, cleaning and back-to-use of these assets, enabling new models for packaging-as-a-service. 

The NFC tags can then be used  by consumers to access their deposits or rewards, thereby building enduring relationships with brands and retailers.

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The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that at least 20% of single use plastic packaging could be replaced with a reusable alternative. This conversion to reusable models could be a $10bn market.

“As packaging is the dominant generator of plastic waste, we are continuously looking for ways in which we can use our technology to reduce that impact,” said Scott White, CEO of PragmatIC. “TRACE brings together leading academic and industry expertise to prove that reuse at scale will deliver significant benefits to the planet. This is why leading global packaging companies are working with us to accelerate the path to intelligent packaging”.

“We have recently seen the commitment from global brands to move towards more reusable packaging,” said Tyler Chaffo, Global Sustainability Manager at project partner Avery Dennison Smartrac. Avery is an investor in PragmatIC. “The TRACE project will address the major barriers in making reuse a reality, by treating packaging-as-a-service through item-level digitalisation using PragmatIC’s ultra-low-cost NFC technology”. 

www.pragmaticsemi.com

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