RFID Tags affect a wide gamut of recycling processes.
These concerns have triggered the thought process for seeking and finding solutions that result in mitigating or minimizing the impact.
When tags reach the trashcan
In the case of RFID tags, despite the fact that in their present form they are eco-unfriendly waste, the irony is that they are used to track and classify waste in landfills, medical used material, and trucks transporting waste! When they reach the end of their useful life, their riddance is governed by well-laid rules in many countries on disposal of electronic equipment after use. Obsolete, unusable, unwanted computers, and peripherals, televisions, audio equipment, telephones, and other electronic equipment must be properly disposed or recycled. This electronic equipment may contain heavy metals and other materials that can become hazardous to human health and the environment, including lead, mercury, both of which are toxic, and cadmium. The USEPA currently classifies such discarded electronic equipment as Characteristic Hazardous Wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Can the tags be reused?
Yes, the possibility certainly exists for reusing the active tags after killing their memory at checkouts. Since battery life is as much as 10 years, industry or customer specific tags can be designed so as to contain permanently locked static data as well as memory for rewrite capability. For example, this solution can be considered for application to reusable plastic containers (RPC), that transport and store perishables; most retailers including Wal-Mart insist on RPC's for all items from all suppliers, and use them in retail stores as well.