British Glass looks at RFID challenge

As radio frequency identification (RFID) technology becomes increasingly popular, concerns have emerged in the UK glass industry about its impact on the recyclability of glass.
The British Glass Manu…

As radio frequency identification (RFID) technology becomes increasingly popular, concerns have emerged in the UK glass industry about its impact on the recyclability of glass. The British Glass Manufacturers“ Confederation now hopes to work with stakeholders throughout the supply chain to find a solution to the problems before the use of RFID tags on primary packaging becomes widespread. “The core of the RFID matter is that tags contain silicon chips,” says British Glass technical manager Pete Grayhurst. “If the silicon stays with the glass through the recycling chain and into the glass furnace it melts at a different rate to the glass, which can result in silicon “balls“ in new packaging.” These are potential weak spots, especially in pressurised containers. Analysis of the current range of passive security tags has also highlighted the potential for color contamination. Substances such as chromium iron and cobalt can strongly color glass, even when present at levels of parts per million. The current range of RFID tags are applied using very strong adhesives, making them difficult to remove in conventional glass recycling. Also, RFID tags in their current configuration are likely to break up into small pieces during the glass recycling process, making them hard to detect: it only takes a small amount of material from an RFID tag in a glass furnace to affect glass quality or color. Presently, the majority of RFID tags are used on secondary packaging and pallets. However, it is widely accepted that as costs fall, RFID tags will also become common on primary packaging. Many high value products, such as spirits and cosmetics, are packaged in glass. It is on these primary packaging items that RFID tags are likely to be first used to help with stock control and other issues such as shoplifting. If RFID tags are to be used successfully without harming the recyclability of glass packaging, it is vital that the tags are both detectable and removable. To this end, the British Glass Manufacturers“ Confederation has formed a discussion group which is looking at both security tags and RFID tags. They are also involved in a wider-based group organised through the Packaging Federation. “British Glass is keen to address this issue before RFID tags on primary glass packaging become commonplace,” says Grayhurst. “This will allow the glass industry to be closely involved with this exciting new technology while making sure that glass continues to be easy to recycle. One possible solution would be to incorporate RFID devices into caps, something which has already been suggested by members of the Packaging Federation group who are involved in developing the technology. This will give all parties the chance to make the most of the benefits of RFID while keeping costs, waste and environmental impact to a minimum.”