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Tokyo, Japan - In a world-first development, Sony has succeeded in creating a contactless IC card made from vegetable-based plastic (vegetable-based plastics are derived from biomass1). Such cards are based on Sony’s contactless IC card technology “FeliCa” 2 and can run applications like the Edy pre-paid e-money service, or function as ID access cards for companies and organizations. The convenience and security provided by such cards will fuel a rapid expansion of their use and this can now be allied to the environmentally conscious nature of vegetable-based plastic.
As a first step, Sony will issue 2000 such cards with the Edy application for distribution within the Sony Group. The cards will also be displayed in the Sony booth at the Eco Products 2006 exhibition taking place at the Tokyo Big Sight from December 14-16 (http://www.vcc.ne.jp/eco2006/english/index.html *this link is no longer active and a revised page does not exist. ).
In addition, the Sony Health Insurance Union will issue 150,000 health insurance cards based on vegetable-based plastic (please note these are not IC cards).
As part its environmental activities Sony has been energetically promoting the use of vegetable plastic and its introduction into products and packaging. Sony already leads the industry with the casings of 7 products in 5 categories based on this kind of plastic as well as two types of packaging.3 Building on these successes, Sony moved on to the application of vegetable-based plastic to contactless IC cards. In September 2004, we succeeded in developing the technology. This was followed by verification trials and after confirming the quality levels, we were able to realize the product.
Sony developed this environmental technology through the selection of polylactic acid 4 as the main ingredient for the vegetable-based plastic and the careful selection of subsidiary ingredients.
The compound ratio and methods were then investigated and the production process for the cards adjusted accordingly. Sony ensured that the present attributes of contactless IC cards in terms of communications, reliability and robustness were maintained. We succeeded in producing a contactless card which is more than 51% composed of vegetable-based materials in terms of depth and volume. Sony believes this product can make a significant contribution in terms of reducing use of non-renewable resources, reducing greenhouse gases, promoting recycling and strengthening the safety of chemical substances.
Sony will continue to pursue the development of unique products that can contribute to environmental conservation.