Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

A collective commitment to track waste? World "première" workshop on RFID and waste

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- Posted by Gérald Santucci, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, Head of Unit Knowledge Sharing

In 2011 the European Commission tasked RAND Europe, the Institut für Aufbereitung und Recycling RWTH Aachen University and P3 Ingenieurgesellschaft to study the role of RFID in waste management and to analyse the benefits RFID can offer to the end-of-life phase. In order to present the study and kick-off a community of interested people, a workshop with stakeholders and policy makers from the RFID and waste management communities is organised on July 11th 2012. It comprises the following agenda items:

  • The study team will present its key findings concerning the impacts of RFID on waste management processes and the potential benefits it could provide there. Also the main requirements and barriers for a successful RFID implementation are presented.
  • The study results will be challenged in a reality check session, comparing the research results with related experiences as gathered in different eco-innovation projects.
  • The requirements for a successful RFID usage throughout the whole product lifecycle will be specifically debated, starting with a key note address on how RFID can help to improve European waste statistics...
  • The question of what motivates industry to implement RFID at present and which promising future business models for RFID application all along the value chain could be established will be discussed by a panel of key experts.
  • To make this wide usage possible from a technical perspective, the business model session will be followed by a standardization panel: what information should be on the tags and how should tags look like to balance optimal environmental performance, process improvements and important privacy concerns?
  • The question of the legal framework for RFID will be discussed among legal experts and policy stakeholders from different Commission services.
The results of this study will trigger a collective commitment to track waste and launch a multi-disciplinary and cross-sectorial dialogue towards defining a European strategy on RFID tags and the recycling industry ("smart trash"). They are the first reponse to point 12 of the 2009 Communication on the Internet of Things. As such, they will help the European Commission in taking action with respect to the following policy challenges:
  • specify wheter RFID tags should fall under a single legal instrument or multiple frameworks (including, for instance, the new WEEE Directive);
  • develop new business models through a self- or a co-regulation approach;
  • support global standardisation (e.g., content and format of stored information);
  • promote enhanced audit information available from tag readers within the waste sector to extend end-of-life responsibilities on manufacturers and eventually promote use of 'disposal-friendly' RFID tags;
  • address specific privacy and data protection issues as they constitute barriers to wider RFID adoption and in particular to the use of identification technologies in waste disposal policies, and refer the analysis of these issues to those decision makers in charge of the EU Data Protection Reform.
The final workshop is a world "première" in the field of RFID (and beyond, the Internet of Things). Please find more info on "RFID tags and the recycling industry" on this website: http://rfid-waste.ning.com

The European Commission is proud to have taken the initiative to open the debate and is strongly committed to organise it and draw its results, lessons and good practices in the broader context of the Digital Agenda for Europe.