Green Manolo » RFID Recycling Bins?

RFID Recycling Bins?

By Christa

Has your city gotten its recycling bins wired yet? Some areas – e.g., San Francisco, California; Cleveland, Ohio; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Charlotte, NC; and Laurel, Maryland – have installed radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in their recycling bins to track compliance and the amount of recyclables being collected from specific zones and homes. The tags are coded to serial numbers on the containers and the addresses where they’re being used, and they allow officials to track recycling stats without having to figure out en route which bins belong to which houses.

Advocates for the RFID-equipped bins say they will encourage people to be more aware of what they are throwing out and how their waste is disposed of. They also argue that the technology can be used in conjunction with programs that reward recyclers with incentives like gift certificates to local businesses. Detractors argue that the RFID recycling bins are often paired not with incentive programs, but rather with fees for non-compliance (which can range from putting out bins too early to not putting them out at all). And of course, there are the usual privacy concerns – particularly since in some areas, non-compliance means a trash inspector having a looksee at your cans.

What do you think? Are RFID recycling bins a great way to encourage people to go green or another example of too much government intervention?

2 Responses to “RFID Recycling Bins?”

  1. aurumgirl Says:

    This is just too much intervention. We need to make people feel good about recycling, believe in it (so much of what we’re endlessly sorting here in Ontario, Canada, actually does not get recycled, and we all know it). People won’t take the trouble to do this if it becomes some kind of “crackdown” harassment operation.

    On top of everything, it has to be said that most of what is supposed to be recycled is packaging. That means manufacturers are responsible for all the extraneous garbage we somehow have to find a way to recycle–and it takes up the consumers’ time and effort. That should stop: manufacturers should be legally restricted from over-packaging. Every time I buy a carton of orange juice now, it comes in a package with an unnecessary plastic screw top inserted in its top–making it completely non-recyclable. Soda bottles have two types of plastic–bottle recyclable, cap non-recyclable. If they get into the same recycling bin, the whole thing just gets chucked into the garbage. What’s the point? Manufacturers should be forced to use only fully recyclable materials for packaging–and they should be forced to fully reuse those packaging materials as well.

    We’re doing this all wrong. Adding “monitoring” devices now, to keep tabs on who is doing what even in their garbage bins is just more bad design at work.

  2. nkyu Says:

    On one hand, I don’t like my town butting into my business, but on the other, I feel like this might be just the wakeup call t hat some people need to start recycling. I know that recycling programs aren’t perfect, but right now they’re all we have.

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