Why use plastic smart cards when there’s a sustainable card solution that works just as well, yet with a fraction of the carbon footprint? Here’s some information to help you make the shift.
Contactless smart cards
A contactless smart card is the size of a credit card and it normally contains a chip that determines its function and an antenna that receives and transmits information. Smart cards sometimes use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology to transmit information to transponders or readers.
RFID is frequently used, for example, in supply chains and logistics to track stock levels. NFC (Near Field Communication) is another technique that works on shorter ranges than RFID and these cards must be held closer to a reader to function. The chip and antenna vary greatly depending on the functionality required for a specific application. These applications or end uses include gift cards, loyalty program cards, key cards, transport tickets, event cards or payment.
Smart cards are often made of plastic and include aluminium antennas, but paperboard cards are on the rise in the efforts to improve sustainability and cut down on plastic waste. Today, there are sustainable alternatives to using aluminium antennas as well.
Plastic and aluminium-free smart cards
For a truly recyclable card, the smart card’s antenna can be printed using connective inks and silver on a cellulose base. This technique is becoming increasingly common and laminating it onto Invercote ensures a product that is recyclable and plastic-free.
Iggesund has tested the printed and finished cards on Invercote and found that 94.3 per cent* of the fibre content remained after the card had been repulped. This means it can enter into the paperboard recycling stream and the fibres can be used to make another product.
*PTS report using 2 x Invercote G 280gsm with printed chip/antenna
Paperboard cards improves sustainability
Paperboard cards are produced using 100 per cent natural materials and are therefore fully recyclable and biodegradable. Plastics like PVC only decompose upon burning, and emit toxic vapours in the process. This is a strong argument for giving up plastic smart cards.
At the same time, there’s no need to sacrifice quality when designing sustainable cards. Contactless smart cards made from Invercote paperboard have a premium look and feel, similar to plastic and are long-lasting. Iggesund’s Invercote is produced at a mill that is certified to ISO 14001 environmental management standards and ISO 9001 quality management standards. It also sources its raw materials from forests that plant more trees than it harvests – all the more reason to make the switch from plastic to paperboard from Iggesund.
The card production process
The Production of paperboard cards starts with high quality paperboard of the preferred thickness. The board is printed and converted depending on the customer specifications. As with any converting the surface can be altered with different finishing techniques. The most common finish would be varnish to protect the surface or give it a glossy or matt surface. Varnish and spot varnish can also be used to highlight specific features in the design or create a ‘soft-touch’ surface. The design can be altered further with, for example, foiling and embossing or debossing.
After the card is made, it is cut out with a sharp stance or cut roller depending on the technique used by the specific card producer.
It is important to select a converter that is familiar with paperboard converting and the many possibilities for the finished cards. Contact Iggesund for tips and ideas regarding whom to turn to or order printed samples of the card.