Revolutionizing RFID: Tackling Tech's Hidden E-Waste Challenge

May 12, 2024

A London Startup's Eco-Friendly Solution to RFID Tags


  1. RFID Tags and E-Waste: Over 39.3 billion passive RFID tags, each with a microchip and metal antenna, contribute significantly to e-waste.
  2. PulpaTronics' Innovation: This London-based startup is developing fully recyclable paper RFID tags without microchips or metal, using laser-inscribed conductive circuits on paper.
  3. Cost-Effective Sustainability: Unlike most eco-friendly alternatives, PulpaTronics' paper RFID tags are not only environmentally sustainable but also more cost-effective.
  4. Real-World Application: The tags have shown promising results in over 1,000 readings and are moving towards real-world testing with retailers.


In a world where technology intertwines with every aspect of our lives, we often overlook the environmental impact of the gadgets and systems we take for granted. One such overlooked aspect is RFID tags – small, ubiquitous, and surprisingly a significant contributor to e-waste. Enter PulpaTronics, a London-based startup, which is flipping the script on RFID technology with a sustainable twist.

The E-Waste Dilemma of RFID Tags:

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tags are everywhere, invisibly powering the tracking of items from retail goods to luggage. However, these tags are not just symbols of convenience and efficiency; they represent a growing environmental concern. With over 39.3 billion passive RFID tags expected to be sold in 2023, and most being single-use, the cumulative impact on e-waste is staggering. Each tag, equipped with a microchip and a metal antenna, contributes to this often ignored waste stream.

PulpaTronics' Innovative Solution:

PulpaTronics, a brainchild of students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, is changing the RFID narrative. Their groundbreaking invention? Fully recyclable paper RFID tags, devoid of microchips and metal. By employing a laser to inscribe a conductive circuit onto paper, these tags store information in the paper circuit, bypassing the need for traditional, environmentally taxing components.

Performance and Prototyping:

The efficacy of PulpaTronics’ paper-based RFID tags is not just theoretical. In over 1,000 readings at Imperial College London's near-field communication lab, these eco-friendly alternatives have matched the performance of their traditional counterparts. Currently part of The Greenhouse climate innovation accelerator, PulpaTronics is refining their prototype and exploring real-world applications with retailers.

The Economic and Environmental Edge:

What sets PulpaTronics apart is not just their environmental consciousness but also their cost-effectiveness. Contrary to the usual trend where sustainable options come with a higher price tag, PulpaTronics’ paper RFID tags promise to be a financial boon. By eliminating the need for microchips and metal antennas, these tags are poised to reduce costs for businesses, making them an attractive, green alternative.


As PulpaTronics gears up for more extensive real-world testing, their innovation serves as a reminder and a challenge. It shows how environmental sustainability can go hand in hand with economic practicality. For young entrepreneurs and organizations, this raises a critical question: What green solutions can you create or enhance that are not just eco-friendly but also economically advantageous?

Interested in making an impact?

PocketSeed is a platform that makes it easy for businesses to integrate climate action into their products and services and share the journey with customers.

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