Jan 10, 2024

Industry body supports emerging regulatory requirements for sustainable product development

10 January 2024 - NFC Forum, the leading standards body for Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, has launched a sustainability programme to help product and component manufacturers meet impending regulatory requirements for green manufacturing that will impact global product development. In what is expected to be a decades long effort, initial work aims to optimize the functionality of products that already embed NFC technology towards a more efficient circular economy.

Mike McCamon, Executive Director of NFC Forum, explains: “Already one of the most energy efficient and low e-waste wireless technologies to connect products, the NFC Forum community is proud to announce its next tangible steps towards researching, learning and advancing our sustainable thinking and approach to do even more. This announcement formalizes our deep commitment to innovate and improve the sustainability of everyday products through using NFC technology, which is mass deployed and widely used, to maximize value to consumers and product designers.”

There are currently four technical focuses to NFC Forum’s sustainability activity:

1) Using NFC to connect and store Digital Product Passport (DPP) data.

NFC Forum is developing an NFC DPP Standard to support emerging regulatory requirements, starting in the European Union to support Ecodesign for Sustainable Product Regulations (ESPR), with an initial focus on the electronics, batteries, and textile sectors, as specified by the European Commission[1]. This would allow NFC tags and chips already used in electronic goods to link products to online DPP data, giving businesses and consumers reliable and robust access to information on how a product can be re-used, remanufactured, or recycled throughout its lifecycle. Additionally, it is expected these features will also give regulators higher confidence in these systems.

2) Powering IoT devices.

NFC Wireless Charging also supports power harvesting. Work is underway across the IoT (Internet of Things) community to advance use cases where devices like an NFC-enabled smartphone could power and connect battery-less IoT devices. Using NFC in this capacity would eliminate e-waste from many IoT products, make them more secure, and eliminate the need for products to be constantly charged and connected to the internet.

3) Charging without cables.  

NFC Wireless Charging allows small personal and wearable devices, such as wireless earbuds, smartwatches and digital styluses, to be charged without cables. Additionally NFC Wireless Charging means even the smallest of products can reduce e-waste with rechargeable instead of disposable batteries. Current specifications allow for up to 1W power delivery which is complementary to the Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi standard which starts at 5W. NFC Forum is working to increase its recharging wattage to support a wider range of products and designs.

4) Dematerializing and multi-purpose tap.

NFC Forum is defining how customer experience can be streamlined, making payment, discounts, identity and access a single tap experience. Multi-purpose tap functionality would reduce the volume of physical materials used and, by extension, waste generated, to deliver services.

McCamon continues: “Having standards which align product development and sustainability are essential to a thriving NFC ecosystem and seamless user experiences across all industries and devices.

“Businesses already use NFC technology for a range of use cases and NFC Forum is looking to encourage organizations to maximize the technology’s potential. In the context of the DPP, we encourage businesses already using NFC chips to include DPP data to support the circular economy. To be clear, we are not advocating for more chips to be used in non-technical materials.”

Find out more about NFC’s ability to support the DPP initiative by watching its webinar - The Circular Economy Redefined: NFC & the Digital Product Passport – where experts from CIRPASS, the Global Battery Alliance, EM Microelectronic, PositiveImpaKT and Infineon Technologies discuss what the DPP is and how NFC technology can be leveraged to amplify it. Download NFC Forum’s sustainability eBook here.

[1] https://cirpassproject.eu/about-cirpass/