- RFID key cards offer a sustainable solution for tracking access with less waste and energy use compared to traditional metal keys
- Options like PLA plastic and recycled materials help minimize environmental impact
- Key cards have long lifespans, allowing low-frequency replacement
RFID, or radio-frequency identification, key cards are increasingly used for security access control in office buildings, hotels, and other locations where managing entry needs to be both convenient and secure. Unlike old-fashioned metal keys, rfid wristbands provide sustainability advantages that environmental managers for facilities should consider.
Benefits Over Metal Keys
RFID key cards have superior lifespans compared to traditional keys. Metal keys can easily get lost or damaged through everyday use, requiring frequent replacement. But sturdy plastic RFID cards have lifespans of 5-10 years or more. This means far less waste and cost over time.
The electronic access data RFID cards provide also allows greater control and tracking than keys. Lost key cards can have their access instantly revoked, while metal keys out in circulation pose more of a security threat if missing.
Today’s RFID key cards offer eco-friendly materials to minimize their environmental impact:
Some key cards utilize recycled PVC plastic containing up to 50% post-consumer content. While still plastic, recycling cuts down on virgin plastic usage.
Polylactic acid (PLA) plastic offers a unique biodegradable and compostable alternative derived from plant-based sources like corn and sugarcane instead of petroleum. It decomposes much more quickly than conventional plastics when disposed.
Partial Wood Fibers
Some modern key cards also integrate materials like partial wood fibers as a renewable, low-impact component. While most contain plastics for durability, adding an element made from trees harvested sustainably counterbalances this.
In addition to sustainable sourcing of materials, RFID key cards are highly energy efficient in operation. Their electronic access data communication relies on very low-power RF signals, rather than needing electricity to power locks and open doors.
This means accessing a location with key cards consumes 80-90% less energy than even the best electronic locks and smart keys. Facility managers looking to cut power usage for entry access control can benefit greatly from this technology.
When selecting an RFID key card system for sustainability:
- Choose options with recycled, biodegradable, and renewable materials
- Opt for durable construction for a long lifespan
- Ensure the system has low-energy operation
- Set expiration dates to eventually phase out older cards
- Provide end-of-life recycling options for expired cards
Frequently Asked Questions
How many times can an RFID key card be reused?
RFID key cards can generally be reused 100,000 times or more if protected in a sleeve. This extremely long lifespan minimizes replacement needs.
Do RFID key cards require batteries?
No, RFID key cards are passive devices without batteries. They receive power from the card reader device rather than needing their own source, adding to sustainability.
Are RFID key cards hazardous waste?
While most do contain some plastics, RFID cards are generally not considered hazardous waste partly due to their long reuse potential and recyclability. Choosing more eco-friendly materials also minimizes impact when disposed after expiration.
What happens if an RFID card gets damaged?If damage occurs, RFID cards can typically be reprogrammed with new access credentials rather than needing complete replacement. This further extends their usable lifespan. Severely damaged cards should be properly recycled and replaced however.