Big Brother In Your Garbage Cans

from the rfid-me dept

Reader Stan alerted us to a recent report out of Cleveland, where the city will apparently be placing RFID chips in recycling bins to monitor whether or not you've been a good little earth saver lately. The way it works, apparently, is that the system will monitor whether or not you bring your recycling bin to the curb, and if you haven't in a while, "a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables" on the assumption that if you're not recycling, you're probably throwing stuff out. After checking those trash cans for recyclables, if more than 10 percent recyclable material is found, a $100 fine could be assessed to the home owner.

Not surprisingly, the reasoning for this has a lot more to do with money than saving the earth's resources:
Recycling is good for the environment and the city's bottom line, officials said. Cleveland pays $30 a ton to dump garbage in landfills, but earns $26 a ton for recyclables.
While perhaps it's a good thing to see something "good" like recycling line up with a way for the city to earn extra money, it still seems pretty intrusive to monitor how often people recycle.

Filed Under: cleveland, garbage cans, rfid

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  1. identicon
    Wig, 8 Sep 2010 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re: I don't know...

    Hm. Maybe I was too fast, but I live in Belgium, and over here recycling garbage is the norm, not the exception.

    The system's we're using have
    - locked garbage bins; you and the garbage collector truck can open it, your neighbor can't.
    - your bin is registered to your name, so swapping it with another will not solve anything.
    - you pay to have your garbage collected by the weight (every kg = x EUR).
    - you have specific bins per type of recyclable items (iron, paper, garden/kitchen, ...) and another for the 'rest' (which is the more expensive one).
    - the contents of the bins is inspected from time to time to make sure everybody plays fair.

    When these systems were introduced, everybody complained that they would be unfair, expensive, intrusive, easy to cheat with...
    Now (just a couple of years later), the complaints are (mostly) gone and the benefits are visible: less overall garbage / person & more recycled / person.

    And just to be clear: the technology is far from perfect; we are still searching for ways to improve it. But starting somewhere, anywhere, even if it is not optimal, is better than not starting at all!

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