UK aims to become “world leader” in smart packaging

A consortium including Unilever and Hasbro is investigating ways to bring near field communication in packaging into the mainstream.

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A group including Unilever, Hasbro and Crown Packaging is investigating ways to turn the UK into a “world leader” in the production of smart packaging.

The consortium is led by the Centre for Process Innovation and is looking to create a supply-chain that will enable the widespread adoption of packaging that uses near-field communication technology.

NFC technology allows packaging to “communicate” with an NFC reader or smartphone. The technology can be embedded in a chip on the packaging or applied as a printed sensor.

Aiming for costs under 1p

The CPI says the aim of the three-year SCOPE project is to “build the manufacturing capability, capacity and skills required to commercialise and position the UK as a world leader in the production of smart products with printed sensors – a fast-growing billion dollar global market”.

A key target is to get the production cost of an NFC tag to below 1p.

The CPI says: “Printed NFC will be able to be used for a host of applications such as providing product differentiation on fast moving consumer goods or tracking or indicating the authenticity of a product in logistics.”

Partners from across industry

It adds: “However, for these products to reach the retailer, technology innovation is needed to develop the supply chain that facilitates the price points and market volumes industry needs for mass-market adoption.”

The SCOPE consortium features 14 partners from across the packaging supply chain. This includes end-users such as Unilever and Hasbro, suppliers such as Mercian Labels and technical experts such as integrated circuit specialist PragmatIC.

The consortium will focus initially on fmc goods and will produce trial samples of up to 100,000 tags at a time.

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