In an interview with Ms. Lesley Suen, Senior Vice President of RFID Technology and Corporate Marketing at SML, RFID & Wireless IoT Global has uncovered the latest on RFID and sustainability with SML's EcoInspire.
When was the EcoInspire first thought of? What were the steps to implementing this brand?
We recognized the urge for retailers and brand owners to reduce their carbon footprint by sourcing and producing renewable and recyclable materials with a positive environmental impact. As the world’s 2nd largest RFID tag provider and a leading RFID solution partner of global retailers, we feel responsible for addressing this topic.
Last summer, we launched the EcoInspire ™ brand to represent our growing portfolio of sustainable tagging and packaging products to elevate brand experiences for retailers and brand owners. In celebrating the brand launch, we also developed our inaugural EcoInspire Product Collection™ which includes a broad spectrum of products using easily-recyclable materials that enhance product durability, longevity, functionality and allow for low-impact maintenance.
From where does SML get the recyclable materials for the production of the eco-friendly tagged products?
Our product development team works closely with material suppliers and partners around the world to get the latest material innovations and updates. The whole process involves continuous material validation, product design, performance testing,..etc.
We work with partners who have the technology and capability to collect large scales of recyclable materials and waste. Although we don’t collect waste ourselves, SML employees are regularly involved in environmental initiatives such as collecting waste for local NGOs to be used for recycling.
How much recycled material is used in the production of all your eco-friendly labels and packaging?
It varies from products. For example, some of our RFID tags could be made from a high content of discarded plastic bottles, recycled polyester, or 100% FSC recycled paper.
In the inaugural EcoInspire™ Product Collection, you can find our new generation of sustainable inlays that has no PET at all. PET is one of the most common components used in an RFID inlay as a stable supporting structure to hold the IC and aluminum antenna together. By removing the PET, the IC and antenna can now be placed directly onto the paper, making its components easier to separate and also making it recyclable.
Besides tags, Ecohanger™, our patent-pending sustainable alternative to hangers, is made from recycled material and reduces the content of plastic by over 50% compared to average hangers.
We continuously explore innovative material and solutions by working closely with our suppliers and partners.
How much waste has been reduced with the implementation of EcoInspire?
The brand has been launched for less than a year now. While we have not carried out an impact analysis on our own, we’ve been on a very positive momentum in introducing the sustainable product line to our customers and prospects.
With our continuous extension of EcoInspire™ offerings, we will be able to further reduce the carbon footprint and waste associated with the products and throughout the manufacturing process.
As a global leader in the industry, our continuous innovation in products and solutions will also help to inspire retailers and brands to be more eco-conscious, even with small things like labels.
Does SML plan on any other future implementations with RFID and wireless IoT technologies that will continue to reduce the carbon footprint? If so, when, and what does SML have planned?
One of the areas in which RFID technology is growing in relevance, is the impact that item-level RFID management software has on reducing inventory in retail supply chains and thus reducing manufacturing and transportation costs. We have seen numerous retailers reduce inventory levels by 10% and thus substantially reducing manufacturing material and transportation services.
We have just recently launched the “SML RFID FactoryCare™” solution, which allows retailers to track inventory and RFID-tagged items at manufacturers’ factories. This solution will help retailers gain full insights at the source so that they are able to adjust production plans earlier in advance before large stocks of products get shipped, which helps to further reduce the gas emissions associated with transporting goods.
We plan to build more business intelligence modules on Clarity®, which is SML’s proprietary inventory management system, to help retailers manage inventories more efficiently and sustainably.
Has SML inspired other retail companies to implement RFID and wireless IoT technologies to reduce the carbon footprint and reduce waste?
Since the introduction of the EcoInspire™ brand, we’ve received many customer inquiries around the Ecohanger and the sustainable inlay as they consider these to be viable alternatives to their existing products.