Executive Briefings

RFID Help Norwegian Company Manage Recycling of Plastic Bottles, Aluminum Cans

Norsk Resirk, a nonprofit Norwegian company that processes discarded plastic bottles and aluminum cans, has completed the first phase of a plan to utilize passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags and readers to improve its management of recyclable materials.

Initially, the firm is reading RFID labels attached to plastic bags containing the recyclables at one of its plants. The long-term goal, however, is much more ambitious: to have the tags read by bottle- and can-collection sites at the point at which the bags are filled, interrogated again by truck drivers transporting those bags, and finally read a third time at all three of Norsk Resirk's plants. In that way, the company will be able to know when and where empty bottles and cans are picked up and delivered, in addition to who may be responsible if the recyclables fail to reach their destination. Norsk Resirk launched the system at its Alnabru plant as a pilot project, and plans to install the same technology at two other plants, located in Trondheim and Bjerkvik.

When buying bottled or canned beverages, a customer pays a deposit on each container. Upon returning the empty containers to a retailer, the consumer receives a refund of that deposit. Annually, grocery retailers and kiosks collect enough of the bottles and cans to fill 200,000 plastic bags, each of which can hold an average of 250 units. The filled bags are sent to Norsk Resirk's plants for processing, and the retailers receive reimbursement from Norsk Resirk, based on the amount of product provided. By reading RFID tags on those sacks as they arrive at the Alnabru plant, the firm saves thousands of dollars by better knowing how many bags were received, and from whom, and then paying users accordingly.

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Initially, the firm is reading RFID labels attached to plastic bags containing the recyclables at one of its plants. The long-term goal, however, is much more ambitious: to have the tags read by bottle- and can-collection sites at the point at which the bags are filled, interrogated again by truck drivers transporting those bags, and finally read a third time at all three of Norsk Resirk's plants. In that way, the company will be able to know when and where empty bottles and cans are picked up and delivered, in addition to who may be responsible if the recyclables fail to reach their destination. Norsk Resirk launched the system at its Alnabru plant as a pilot project, and plans to install the same technology at two other plants, located in Trondheim and Bjerkvik.

When buying bottled or canned beverages, a customer pays a deposit on each container. Upon returning the empty containers to a retailer, the consumer receives a refund of that deposit. Annually, grocery retailers and kiosks collect enough of the bottles and cans to fill 200,000 plastic bags, each of which can hold an average of 250 units. The filled bags are sent to Norsk Resirk's plants for processing, and the retailers receive reimbursement from Norsk Resirk, based on the amount of product provided. By reading RFID tags on those sacks as they arrive at the Alnabru plant, the firm saves thousands of dollars by better knowing how many bags were received, and from whom, and then paying users accordingly.

Read Full Article