PragmatIC has received a £1.3m contract from UK Government Sustainable Innovation Fund to turn waste into worth

March 31, 2021

BY Alexander Kalis

PragmatIC‘s ultra-low-cost RFID to enable rewarding recycling and packaging re-use

PragmatIC, a world leader in flexible electronics and a key Milltrust investment in our British Innovation Fund, has been awarded a £1.3 million contract from the UK Government Sustainable Innovation Fund for a state-of-the-art recycling scheme based on PragmatIC’s ultra-low-cost NFC technology. In an initiative code-named SPRITE (Sustainable Plastics Recycling Innovation by Tagging Electronically), PET bottles and refillable packaging will be given unique digital IDs to support automated identification and recycling.

Worldwide more than one million plastic bottles are made per minute and less than 10% of those are collected and turned into new bottles; the rest are landfilled, incinerated or are littered, polluting the environment. Deposit return schemes are already well proven to increase recycling rates, with leading systems recovering over 90% of the containers which have a deposit on them. But these are built around returning bottles back to grocery stores and require well-developed, and often rigid, state or nationwide processes to be in place.

Under SPRITE, PragmatIC will deliver a system that works alongside existing return and recycling schemes and uses ultra-low-cost NFC to uniquely identify Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) packaging so that consumers can collect rewards anywhere using a network of smart recycling points and their existing kerbside recycling collections. The project will also demonstrate the use of NFC to enhance refillable packaging models, where it can be used to encourage re-use and also provide the merchant with actionable data. Studies have shown that access to re-use and recycling opportunities is one of the key drivers for changing public behaviour.

As part of the project, PragmatIC will be working with leading global FMCG companies, who see NFC labels as a route to frictionless consumer engagement in recycling and in particular enabling refillable packaging models. And now PragmatIC’s technology makes NFC more affordable for these high volume FMCG applications.

PragmatIC Semiconductor is a world leader in ultra-low-cost flexible electronics. Our unique technology platform enables innovators to create novel solutions to everyday problems that are beyond the scope of conventional electronics. Our ConnectIC® family of flexible integrated circuits (FlexICs) are thinner than a human hair and extend proven applications such as RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) and NFC (Near Field Communication) technology into mass market use cases, enabling the potential for trillions of smart objects that can engage with consumers and their environments. Our novel, differentiated products are being adopted by a growing base of global companies across diverse markets, including consumer goods, games, retail, pharmaceutical and security. Alternatively, designers can create their own application-specific flexible devices using our FlexIC Foundry™ offering at a fraction of the cost and time required for traditional silicon circuits, opening up multiple new markets beyond RFID. These FlexICs are manufactured on our revolutionary FlexLogIC®production system, a highly scalable manufacturing model for cost-effective high-volume production, achieved with orders of magnitude less capital investment and operating cost compared to a traditional silicon IC fab. PragmatIC is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, with our first billion-unit production facility in Sedgefield. Shareholders include the British Innovation Fund, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Arm and Avery Dennison.