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?