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Press releases - March 29, 2021

Pragmatic receives £1.3m contract from UK Government Sustainable Innovation Fund to turn waste into worth

Pragmatic’s ultra-low-cost RFID to enable rewarding recycling and packaging re-use

PragmatIC, a world leader in flexible electronics, has been awarded a £1.3 million contract from the UK Government Sustainable Innovation Fund for a state-of-the-art recycling scheme based on PragmatIC’s ultra-low-cost NFC technology. In an initiative code-named SPRITE (Sustainable Plastics Recycling Innovation by Tagging Electronically), PET bottles and refillable packaging will be given unique digital IDs to support automated identification and recycling.

Worldwide more than one million plastic bottles are made per minute and less than 10% of those are collected and turned into new bottles; the rest are landfilled, incinerated or are littered, polluting the environment. Deposit return schemes are already well proven to increase recycling rates, with leading systems recovering over 90% of the containers which have a deposit on them. But these are built around returning bottles back to grocery stores and require well-developed, and often rigid, state or nationwide processes to be in place.

Under SPRITE, PragmatIC will deliver a system that works alongside existing return and recycling schemes and uses ultra-low-cost NFC to uniquely identify Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) packaging so that consumers can collect rewards anywhere using a network of smart recycling points and their existing kerbside recycling collections. The project will also demonstrate the use of NFC to enhance refillable packaging models, where it can be used to encourage re-use and also provide the merchant with actionable data. Studies have shown that access to re-use and recycling opportunities is one of the key drivers for changing public behaviour.

“We are thrilled to have won this contract which furthers our mission to enable electronic solutions that improve everyday life,” said Scott White, CEO of PragmatIC Semiconductor. “This is one of a number of initiatives where customers are using our technology to have a positive and lasting impact on the sustainability of our planet’s resources.”

As part of the project, PragmatIC will be working with leading global FMCG companies, who see NFC labels as a route to frictionless consumer engagement in recycling and in particular enabling refillable packaging models. And now PragmatIC’s technology makes NFC more affordable for these high volume FMCG applications.

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About Pragmatic Semiconductor 

Pragmatic Semiconductor is a leader in semiconductor innovation, creating ultra low cost, ultra thin, flexible integrated circuits (‘electronic chips’).

Pragmatic’s chip is produced without silicon, using thin-film semiconductors to create flexible integrated circuits that are thinner than a human hair, and are significantly cheaper and faster to produce than silicon chips. This provides a compelling alternative for many mainstream electronics applications, as well as enabling new applications not possible with silicon.

Pragmatic’s chips can be embedded into almost anything, bringing connectivity and intelligence to everyday objects. Example applications include radio frequency identification (RFID) and near field communications (NFC) giving objects unique digital identities as well as enabling objects to interact with their environment. This has benefits across the entire product lifecycle, including inventory reduction, traceability, counterfeit detection, proof of provenance, and customer interaction. Pragmatic’s technology can also be used to help reduce food waste, improve the return and recycling of singleuse packaging, and enable item-level traceability within a universal system for recapture, sorting, cleaning, and return.

Our foundry service uniquely allows agile hardware design, exponentially accelerating solution development and time-to-market. Examples include proprietary RFID protocols, time/temperature indicators, fingerprint sensors, wearable smart patches for healthcare, flexible display drivers, and novel microprocessor architectures.

We also offer a Fab-as-a-Service model that enables secure, dependable, localised semiconductor supply through manufacturing directly on a customer’s site. This highly scalable distributed production allows cost effective, high-volume fabrication of flexible integrated circuits.

Pragmatic is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, with our first fab operating in Sedgefield, and a second fab under construction at our new 15-acre Pragmatic Park site in Durham.

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