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Reusing an RFID tag? Tips for recycling RFID

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Nov 29, 2023
  • RFID
Reusing an RFID tag? Tips for recycling RFID

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has become increasingly prevalent in various industries, offering a range of benefits such as inventory management, supply chain optimization, logistics management, order fulfillment, and enhanced customer experiences. As the use of RFID tags continues to grow, so does the need for reducing the cost of RFID implementation by repurposing, reusing, and recycling an RFID Tag. But how do we reuse an RFID tag? Is it even possible to reuse an RFID label? Can we encode RFID tags with new data and assign the tag to another item?  

Well, there are many such questions that plague our minds before we think about repurposing an RFID tag, however, it is possible. You can even rewrite some RFID tags or assign new products to an old RFID tag. 

Let’s explore the importance of reusing and recycling RFID tags, along with some practical tips for ensuring their proper disposal as well:

What is RFID Technology?

RFID technology is a decades-old AIDC technology that has witnessed significant developments over the years and now, it is a commercial success in the automatic identification and data capture world, i.e. product labeling, identification, tracking, and inventory management. 

The technology employs small RFID tags, RFID readers, antennas, and software systems to capture record, and store all the data about products and even individuals for end users. RFID tags consist of a silicon microchip (IC) and an antenna, which communicate with RFID readers via radio frequency signals. These tags are used to identify and track objects, animals, or people, offering a wide range of applications across industries such as retail, logistics, healthcare, and transportation.

Even though RAIN RFID (UHF Passive RFID) labels cost around INR 3-5 per label (4-5 US cents) typically, the cost of RFID implementation runs in millions in large-scale Retail stores where they need to tag millions of items with RFID labels. And when a particular item is sold, what should they do with the RFID tag?

1. Remove the RFID tag (RFID Apparel hang tags/labels, hard tags with hooks) assign it to another product, and update the same in the software system.

2. If it is sewn into the apparel, all you can do is deactivate the RFID tag with a kill password. 

3. Recycle the RFID tag. 

Reusing RFID Tags

Reusing RFID tags can significantly reduce electronic waste and promote sustainable practices. While some RFID tags are designed for a single-use purpose, many can be reprogrammed and reused multiple times as they come with a read-write function and can be rewritten with new information. WORM (Write Once Read More) microchips in RFID tags have a serial no. that cannot be overwritten but Read Write microchips have added memory banks that can be rewritten with new item details.

Typically, RFID tag microchips come with four types of memory banks namely TID (Tag Identification), User Memory, EPC Memory, and Reserve Memory and only two of these memory banks can be reprogrammed with new info, namely EPC and User memory banks.

Here are some tips for reusing RFID tags effectively:

Data Erasure

Before reusing an RFID tag, ensure that all previous data has been completely erased. This can be done by using specialized software or following the manufacturer's instructions. Even one can do so using an RFID handheld reader. 


After erasing the data, the RFID tag can be reprogrammed with new information to suit its new purpose. You can use an RFID printer or RFID reader and software system to reprogram the RFID tag.

Quality Control

Before reusing an RFID tag, it's essential to verify its functionality. Conduct a quality control check to ensure that the tag is in optimal working condition and can provide accurate data.

How to Recycle/Dispose of an RFID Tag?

Not all RFID tags can be reused, either due to their design or wear and tear. Recycling these tags is crucial to minimize environmental impact. 

Here are some tips for recycling RFID tags responsibly:

Separate All the Components

RFID tags typically consist of different materials, including Plastic, Polyester, Metal, and Electronic components. Disassemble the tag carefully, separating each component to facilitate proper recycling.

Environmental Regulations

Businesses should also familiarize themselves with local regulations and guidelines for electronic waste disposal. Some regions have specific recycling programs or designated drop-off points for electronic devices.

Responsible E-Waste Recycling

Choose recycling facilities or organizations that specialize in handling electronic waste. These facilities have the necessary expertise and equipment to ensure safe and environmentally friendly RFID tag disposal.

Manufacturer Programs

Some RFID tag manufacturers offer recycling programs or take-back initiatives. Contact the manufacturer or visit their website to inquire about recycling options they provide.

As RFID technology continues to advance, it is crucial to prioritize responsible disposal and recycling practices for RFID tags. By reusing RFID tags whenever possible and recycling them responsibly when necessary, we can minimize electronic waste and contribute to a more sustainable future. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Can we reuse an RFID Tag?

Ans. Yes, some RFID tags can be assigned to another item and some RFID tags can be reprogrammed (EPC and User memory) to store new information about new items.

Q2. Can all RFID tags be reused?

Ans. No, not all RFID tags can be reused by reprogramming the information. Some RFID tags are sewn into the apparel and must not be taken out. The only option is to deactivate the RFID tag after the sale, using the kill password, which is stored in the reserve memory bank.

Q3. Can RFID Hard tags be reused?

Ans. Since RFID hard tags are costly (INR 10-12 per tag) and last longer, therefore, the RFID hard tags are designed with read-write microchip functionality and can be rewritten with new information.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Nov 29, 2023

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