Arjo targets plastic card alternative with smart paper

Jo Francis
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

ArjoWiggins has developed a new paper inlay for smart card applications that has the potential to offer a more sustainable, recyclable alternative to plastic cards.

Paper inlay can be laminated with other paper and board materials for full recyclability
Paper inlay can be laminated with other paper and board materials for full recyclability

The aluminium-free inlay is made from “cellulosic fibres” and is printed with conductive inks, thereby replacing the usual aluminium antenna that is etched onto plastic cards. 

It is part of the group’s Smart Papers range of FSC-certified, recyclable products and is made at the Stoneywood Mill in Scotland. 

ArjoWiggins cited research that showed some 37.1bn cards were produced in 2019 for uses such as hotel key cards, public transport, gift cards and hospitality “the vast majority of which were fossil-based plastic cards”.

Its paper inlay can be laminated with other paper and board materials to form a smart card that can be fully recycled in the paper stream. 

Head of research and development Gael Depres said there was “a strong argument for giving up plastic cards”.

“The new sustainable paper inlay can be used across a wide range of applications, including travel cards, access control badges, hotel key cards, warranty certificates, gift cards, loyalty cards and leisure passes. It offers the same functionality and performance as before with the added benefit of being eco-friendly.”

According to ArjoWiggins, paper-based NFC Smart Cards can reduce carbon emissions by 95% compared to fossil-based plastic cards. 

The firm said that a contactless paper card with RFID technology would be recyclable in the traditional paper flow and would generate 0.55g of CO2 per card, “whilst a card made from PVC generates 11.4 grams of CO2 per card”. 

The ArjoWiggins PowerCoat range of smart papers is targeted at a number of applications including high-precision and high-throughput electronics, security documents, interactive packaging and connected, interactive printed materials.

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