Authored by the RAIN Alliance Sustainability Workgroup

The RAIN RFID Sustainability workgroup, founded in 2020, is proud to announce its second publication, E-Waste Disposal Regulations and RAIN RFID. This recently published whitepaper, set to be published in November 2021 seeks to create a foundational understanding of how e-waste associated with RAIN RFID is currently regulated globally.

The workgroup’s vision is to better understand the environmental impact of RAIN RFID equipment, tags, and the items they are embedded in to facilitate increased sustainability. To realize this vision, the workgroup conducts research and creates educational materials such as this whitepaper.

While social and financial sustainability are definitely important and taken into consideration depending on the context, environmental sustainability is the workgroup’s primary focus. In addition to examining e-waste regulations as they pertain to RAIN RFID, the workgroup recently published a whitepaper on the definition of sustainability as it relates to RAIN RFID. This whitepaper can be accessed here. The workgroup is also currently conducting research around the environmental impact of RAIN RFID tags through the lens of a Life Cycle Assessment.
The RAIN RFID Sustainability workgroup sees these initial research endeavors as a foundational stage and aims to pursue such topics as circularity and applied use cases of RAIN RFID enabling industries to become more sustainable. In order to understand those topics, it is important to first lay a solid foundation of what currently applies to RAIN RFID and sustainability. The workgroup can then go on to do more detailed explorations of the exciting crossroads of RAIN RFID and sustainability in the future.

A synopsis of this document on e-waste disposal regulations and RAIN RFID can be found below:

  • Sustainability has become a popular topic today. Companies and governments are putting more emphasis on how to preserve the environment and regulate commercial activities ensuring nobody abuses natural resources or the environment to maximize their benefits.
  • Additionally, RAIN RFID is widely adopted in different applications and the consumption of RAIN tags has reached 20 billion units in 2020. It gives the user many advantages and improves efficiency. However, there is no specific regulation available to regulate RAIN tags’ recyclability and/or disposal. Unlike typical electronics (such as printers and readers) which are handled under current e-waste regulations, RAIN tags are not clearly addressed in EU, US, and Asian regulations. It becomes a market challenge as RAIN tag disposal increases. It is not clear what regulations or guidelines to follow when handling RAIN tags.
  • For instance, European e-waste regulations don’t address RAIN tag handling clearly. In the US, RAIN tags are treated differently in different states. The regulations focus more on active RFID tags while passive RFID tags (such as RAIN tags) are likely classified as universal waste. In Asia, each country has their own regulation without any specific alignment in the region. There is no one-solution-fits-all scenario whilst the regulations are not harmonized on a global scale. It leads to complexity for all the stakeholders to handle and dispose of RAIN tags properly to fulfill the requirements.

Please find access to this paper here.