Energy & Sustainability Technology
RFID racing and the environment
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Kevin, of Race Day Nutrition, writes:

RFID devices have found a niche in the sports timing world. Instead of handheld stopwatches or velcro transponders, racers now strap an RFID to their shoelaces. Race logistics are greatly improved, but at what cost? What is the environmental impact of 10,000 trashed RFIDs after a big city marathon?

He’s looking for input and ideas from the environmental and DIY communities on reuse and recycling of these tags.

RFID race timing vs. the environment

20 thoughts on “RFID racing and the environment

  1. I was under the impression some race timing companies let a runner buy a reusable chip. So you buy a little shoelace fob and that’s your RFID for every race you run. Certainly much more environmentally friendly if they’re reused.

  2. @Rich… they may end up with compatibility issues from one race to another…

    @Max… true.

    seems like a race organizer could use a collection box at the end of the race for the used tags. even if you get *most* of them back you are way ahead in reducing waste and cost for next years event.

  3. The New York Road Runners Club collects and reuses their chips every race OR you can purchase your own as was already pointed out.

  4. Reusable tags have already been suggested.

    You could have the entrants pay a fully refundable deposit of, say $10, on disposable tags. Even if the runners themselves don’t want their ten bucks back, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would be willing to collect the tags for that sort of refund money. Charities could set up bins at the finish line for runners to put their used tags into.

    Or you could make a rule that the entrants can’t get their times until they hand back their tags.

  5. I’ve been hankering to play around with the RFID tags used in local runs since I started last year, but they collect them all at the end of every race. You want your finisher’s shirt, medal, certificate, whatever – you gotta hand the tag over.

    I’m curious the relative waste between a printed runner’s bib and an RFID tag – sure, the bib is larger, but between the chip and the antenna, wouldn’t the tag use more resources over the whole of it’s manufacture?

  6. Let me point out the fact that races have, as numbnuts define it, a HORRENDOUS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT.

    First everybody has to DRIVE to the events and then DRIVE home. CO2 out the ASS.

    Next, whenever you have tons of people standing around you end up with PILES OF TRASH. Not to mention the precious, irreplaceable resources used to create and produce those disposable items and then the vehicles that have to haul them off to the garbage dump or recycling center.

    Grass trampled under foot by people milling about like cattle, horrendous food vendors causing vast increases in local methane, ELECTRICITY EVERYWHERE, Light polution (camera flashes!)… The list goes ON AND ON AND ON.

    And you’re concerned about the “environmental impact” of a piece of paper with some copper on it?

    Are you ******* insane?

    STOP RACES NOW. Its obvious that this human activity is COMPLETELY WORTHLESS when compared to its environmental impact.

    Do everybody a favor and STAY HOME. With the lights out. Holding in as much CO2 as possible.

    ******* idiots.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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