Plastic RFID tags could soon be history

Published 5 June 2019 by Ville Voipio
The world has woken up to the ecological problems caused by plastics. These materials can take hundreds of years to decompose, and they release toxic microplastics into the environment as they do so. Plastics are choking the world’s oceans and have been found inside living creatures all over the planet.

Initiatives to replace plastic packaging with environmentally friendly alternatives are increasing worldwide. However, plastics are also frequently used in disposable products that might be less noticeable. One example is RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags. These smart electronic tags have many uses and are commonly used to identify and track products during the logistics process. Around 18 billion single-use RFID tags were used worldwide last year, and almost all were made of plastics. 

Fortunately, a renewable alternative to plastic RFID tags is now available. Stora Enso’s Intelligent Packaging unit has launched ECOTM RFID Tag Technology, an innovation that enables RFID tags to be made of paper. 

Traditionally, RFID tags have been created through chemical etching. The new ECO tags are printed on paper using our patented technique. Replacing chemical etching with printing also allows tag manufacturing to be located closer to the factories where the tags are integrated with products and labels. This increases efficiency and helps to reduce transportation emissions. 

ECO tags are a significant step forward and there is a great deal of interest in the technology. Several industry experts have remarked that it’s difficult to imagine plastic RFID tags still being in use in a few years’ time. 

The journey towards a greener world happens one step at a time, and scalable innovations such as this help us to get there faster.

Author

Ville Voipio, blog author

Ville Voipio

Ville Voipio heads sales and marketing for Intelligent Packaging in Stora Enso. Ville has made his career working with digital transformations. He is MSc economics and finalizing PhD on RFID’s business value.