PragmatIC leads project to digitise reusable packaging

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PragmatIC Semiconductor, a leading developer of flexible electronics, is to lead an Innovate UK, Smart Sustainability Plastic Packaging business project that looks to make reusable plastic packaging systems a reality at scale.

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

The UIDs will be used throughout the lifecycle of the packages: firstly, by all the actors in the supply chain to track each item and provide detailed data that will demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits; and secondly, by the consumer to access their deposits or rewards, thereby building enduring relationships with brands and retailers.

Reusable models present a significant opportunity to reduce waste and its impact on the environment. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has estimated that at least 20% of single use plastic packaging could be replaced with a reusable alternative and converting to reuse models could be a USD 10 billion business opportunity. By taking a systematic view to reusable packaging, TRACE will develop new digital innovations across the complete cycle of recapture, sorting, cleaning and back-to-use of these assets, enabling new models for packaging-as-a-service.

“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 environmental benefits. 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,” commented Tyler Chaffo, Global Sustainability Manager, Avery Dennison Smartrac. “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”.

PragmatIC is working with a number of academic and industry partners in the TRACE project including: RECOUP, Topolytics, University of Sheffield, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Ken Mills Engineering.