Frequently Asked Questions on Guidelines on EPC for Consumer Products
The Guidelines on EPC Usage for Consumer Products were adopted as a basic framework for responsible use and deployment of EPC. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below provide guidance on current EPC issues. The questions and answers are intended to complement the Guidelines and create a greater understanding of their meaning and application.
These FAQs represent the general views of the GS1 Community on certain specific issues. The Guidelines and the FAQs will evolve as appropriate to keep pace with advances in the technology and new developments in its application.
General information about EPC tags or systems is available at http://www.gs1.org/epcglobal.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
• Why did GS1 adopt the Guidelines?
GS1 knows that earning consumer trust is integral to adoption of this technology. EPC global and its members are committed to the responsible deployment and use of EPC as they capture the benefits of the technology. The guidelines provide a practical and useful framework to help members achieve that objective.
• To what products do the Guidelines apply?
The Guidelines apply to consumer product goods with EPC tags that are intended to come under an individual's control and are intended for individual consumer use. The vast majority of consumer products that are purchased will not be tagged with an EPC at the item level for a number of years.
• Who is primarily responsible for consumer notice?
It is important for all members to provide clear notice to consumers as set forth in the Guidelines so that consumers know that the product they are purchasing contains an EPC tag. Responsibility for achieving this objective resides with both manufacturers and retailers through broad-scale cooperation.
• Manufacturers may include EPC tags on all their products, including those sold to retailers who do not use the technology. What is the responsibility of such retailers and manufacturers to comply with the “notice” provisions under the Guidelines?
The guidelines state that all consumers will be provided with clear notice of the presence of EPC. GS1 expects that all products produced by members containing EPC tags will bear the logo required by the Guidelines. Manufacturers should inform their customers (generally retailers or distributors) if EPC tags are on products that consumers will purchase. GS1 encourages all retailers who know that EPC tags are on products they sell to help in efforts to make consumers aware of the tags. This may take the form of store signage, information brochures at the customer service desk, or other communication methods appropriate for the business. See “Retailers Tool Kit” or “Manufacturers Tool Kit” for more information on communicating with customers about RFID.
• Some products are so small that any consumer notice on the product either destroys the overall packaging impact of the product or would not be readily noticed. How will EPCglobal members comply with the notice requirement in such a circumstance?
In rare circumstances, it may be impractical to include the EPC logo on a product in a way that is both meaningful and aesthetically neutral. In those circumstances, members must look at other available opportunities to ensure that consumers are made aware of the presence of an EPC tag on the product. Although GS1 cannot specify a single best approach in this situation, it anticipates that members manufacturing or selling these products will cooperate in developing appropriate methods to satisfy the objective of consumer notice.
• What options regarding EPC tags must be given to consumers to comply with the Guidelines?
The Guidelines require that consumers be informed of the choices that are available to discard or remove or in the future disable EPC tags from the products they acquire. As EPC technology evolves, GS1 also expects the nature and quality of these choices to evolve. Although not available today, development of efficient, affordable and reliable technology to disable EPC tags is an objective supported by GS1.
GS1 believes that most products will have disposable EPC tags to provide consumers with effective control over the tag. In some situations, though, the EPC tag may be embedded within the structure of a product, making it impossible or impractical for a manufacturer or retailer to provide any “choice” for a consumer to dispose of the tag. In such cases, manufacturers and retailers should engage in broad-scale cooperation to ensure consumers understand prior to purchase that the product contains an embedded EPC tag. Methods through which companies comply with the notice objective for such a product may be broader in order to address this issue.
• Can EPC RFID tags be part of a fabric label sewn into an apparel item?
The EPC RFID tag inserted into a printed fabric label meets the requirements of the Guidelines if it meets the notice and choice provisions in the Guidelines. If the consumer can easily cut the EPC RFID tag off the printed fabric label, or cut out the entire fabric label, then the “consumer choice” provision is met. Care should be taken with fabric care and content labels to ensure that removing the EPC RFID tag does not also remove the fabric care or content information. Consumers are likely to want to keep this information attached to the item.
• Whose responsibility is it to educate the public about EPC? How will that be done?
GS1 and its member companies are committed to ongoing consumer education about EPC, including its benefits and limitations. The goal is to increase awareness and understanding of EPC so that every consumer will come to recognize the EPC logo as an indication that EPC tags are present.
The GS1 EPC website, www.gs1.org/epcglobal contains specific information about EPC systems and tags.
Record Use, Retention and Security
• Do EPC tags contain information about consumers ?
EPC tags do not contain any personally identifiable information about consumers. The technology licenses owned by GS1 do not allow for tags on consumer products to contain any personally identifiable information. The only information that is contained in the EPC tag relates to the product, not the purchaser.
These guidelines were developed by the GS1 Public Policy Steering Committee (PPSC).