VSJ – September 2004 – Sounding Board

IAP Council member David Morgan has a cunning plan…

I have recently been reading quite a lot in the IT press about Radio Frequency Identification systems (RFIDs) and their potential uses. RFIDs come in a variety of forms but are often described as being very small and potentially very cheap. They have made a big impact with some large retailers who have used them for inventory control by embedding RFIDs in pallets of goods. They have also made the news with regard to privacy issues. In the UK, perhaps the most alarming story concerned Tesco. They, apparently, used RFIDs in packs of Mach3 razor blades to trigger cameras that photographed shoppers who selected them. There are obviously issues of privacy related to how much information can be stored on an RFID, how it is triggered, who can access it and how it can be switched off temporarily or permanently.

I believe these are all issues which can either be resolved (or not) with appropriate legislation. I am more interested in a particular use of RFIDs. I would suggest that, when framing the relevant legislation, the drafters should include a requirement that, where an RFID is used in packaging or attached or embedded in the final product, then that RFID should contain information regarding the amounts and nature of all materials used in the product. This way, when packaging is disposed of or when the product reaches the end of its life, automated waste sorting processes would be able to use RFID scanners to assist with sorting materials for recycling.

I believe that RFIDs could offer many benefits both to consumers and corporate bodies. However, I also believe that if they could be used to help manage waste better, we could all benefit.

You can contact David at dpmorgan@cix.co.uk

[Something you’d like to get off your chest? Email me (Robin Jones) at eo@iap.org.uk.]

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