Eco Innovation

NFC Forum launches sustainability programme

10th January 2024
Paige West

The NFC Forum, an organisation setting standards for Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, has initiated a sustainability programme aimed at aiding product and component manufacturers in meeting upcoming green manufacturing regulations that will affect global product development.

This extensive effort, expected to span decades, begins with enhancing the efficiency of products already incorporating NFC technology, contributing to a more effective circular economy.

Mike McCamon, Executive Director of NFC Forum, states: "Already one of the most energy-efficient and low e-waste wireless technologies for connecting products, the NFC Forum community is proud to launch its next steps towards researching, learning, and evolving our sustainable practices. We're formalising our commitment to elevating the sustainability of everyday products through NFC technology, which is extensively deployed and widely utilised, to maximise benefits for consumers and product designers."

The NFC Forum’s sustainability initiative centres on four technical areas:

Digital Product Passport (DPP) data via NFC

The NFC Forum is crafting an NFC DPP Standard to align with emerging regulatory demands, initially in the European Union under the Ecodesign for Sustainable Product Regulations (ESPR). This focus is on the electronics, batteries, and textile sectors as outlined by the European Commission. NFC tags and chips in electronic goods would connect products to online DPP data, providing reliable access to information on product reuse, remanufacture, or recycling. This initiative also aims to bolster regulatory confidence in these systems.

Powering IoT devices

NFC Wireless Charging is being explored for its power-harvesting capabilities. Collaborative efforts in the IoT community are geared towards enabling NFC-enabled smartphones to power and connect battery-less IoT devices. This application of NFC could eliminate e-waste from numerous IoT products, enhance security, and obviate the need for constant charging and Internet connectivity.

Cable-free charging

NFC Wireless Charging facilitates the recharging of small personal and wearable devices like wireless earbuds, smartwatches, and digital styluses without cables. The current specification permits up to 1W power delivery, complementing the Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi standard starting at 5W. The NFC Forum is working to increase this wattage to accommodate a broader array of products and designs.

Dematerialisation and multi-purpose tap

The NFC Forum is developing ways to streamline customer experiences by merging payment, discounts, identity, and access into a single tap functionality. This approach could reduce the amount of physical materials used, thus decreasing waste associated with service delivery.

McCamon adds: "Aligning product development with sustainability standards is crucial for a thriving NFC ecosystem and seamless user experiences across industries and devices. We urge businesses using NFC chips to integrate DPP data to aid the circular economy. Our goal is not to increase the use of chips in non-technical materials.”

To learn more about NFC's role in supporting the DPP initiative, the NFC Forum invites you to watch its webinar, ‘The Circular Economy Redefined: NFC & the Digital Product Passport’, featuring experts from CIRPASS, the Global Battery Alliance, EM Microelectronic, PositiveImpaKT, and Infineon Technologies discussing the DPP and NFC technology’s potential. Additionally, the NFC Forum’s sustainability eBook is available for download.

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