Tuesday, November 6, 2012

RFID in Trash Bins Leading to Fines in Cleveland 

Alanna McIntyre

The United Sates has been becoming very “green” or “eco-friendly” lately. Cleveland is helping Americans continue to save the environment by forcing Clevelanders to recycle. Cleveland has a $2.5 million waste-collection system, and as part of this, the city has decided to give each resident a high-tech trash bins embedded with RFID tags and a couple sensors that monitor the amount of recycling. The smart trash bin could detect and measure different variables that would determine what type of waste material was thrown in it. For the most part however, weight would be the primary information that it would collect. After the sensors collect the needed information, the RFID chip would then process and collect all of the data gathered by the sensors to transmit it to a base station. This base station would be the Waste Collection Committee in the city. The RFID tags track recycling by households. By using the tags, the trash and recycling carts can be weighed an accounted for by trucks fitted with compatible technology. If 10 percent of the trash in the garbage bin is recyclable, Cleveland residents could face $100 fines. The household will first get a warning before the fine because the smart bins are still in a trial. The RFID tags will also help the city track its staff’s performance. The city launched a pilot program in 2007 for 15,000 houses, and last week the city council voted to extend the program to 25,000 households, and eventually extending out to all of the city’s residences.
Although people could may criticize this by saying Big Brother is spying on us or something, I believe that this will have a great impact on the city of Cleveland. The city is now able to promote recycling and help keep the streets and neighborhoods cleaner and safer. Cities are always seen as dirty while also having an extremely high crime rate. This enforcement of recycling will help the city improve in both of those areas. Also, it will save the city a chunk of change. It costs Cleveland $30 per ton to haul trash when the city actually gets paid $26 per ton to recycle. The money that is saved or earned could be used to improve the city by building recreational centers, paving roads, and creating jobs for the citizens. 
I have RFID chips in my recycling bins in Cherry Hill, NJ. These were an addition to the township in 2009. Although the township does not fine for throwing away recyclable good, this program still motivates people to recycle. I believe that my town has a better approach to motivating their citizens by using a rewards program instead of financial punishments. Cherry Hill motivates their citizens by measuring the amount of material each home recycles and then converting that activity into reward dollars that can be used at hundreds of local and national rewards partners, such as grocery stores and target! Overall, I think that the city’s motivation of recycling and taking care of our planet is a great idea which ever way they choose to do it. 

This is a video of RecycleBank. This is a similar concept of the smart bins that of which Cleveland uses. RecycleBank is used in Cherry Hill, NJ

Article: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/cleveland-recycle-big-brother-pick-trash/story?id=11488572#.UJmSzmiH0zI 


  1. After reading the blog about RFID chips in trash bins, I was amazed because I have never heard of such a thing. I automatically began to research the topic and came to find that Cleaveland is not the only city implementing the use of them. In an article titles, “RFID-Based Recycling Technology Makes Philidalphea Greener,” it was recorded that the “RecycleBank in Philadelphia has seen recycling participation rise to 90 percent of the 2,500 residents who subscribed to the pilot program, up from less than 25 percent of those households when the program began.”

    Although that is a great accomplishment I do not think it says much about the community other than they are trying to avoid a $100 fine, and unnecessary sorting of their garbage by health officials. I think going green is a great step in promoting a positive future and environment, but I also think it should be a choice. It should not be a law, with a consequence of paying a find for not having the right percentage of trash vs. recyclables in your own personal trash.

    It would make a city much more impressive if they were taking steps towards an eco-friendly environment out of free will instead of the fear of the iron fist. Also like any other technology, it is hard to decipher if it is reliable. Malfunctions happen, and it would be a shame if someone were fined due to it. It is hard to prove yourself innocent if that trash has already been taken.

    Also, although it is mentioned in the blog that the city is making money off of the increase in recycling it is important to note all the money they invested. It was explained that not even every home was given a recycling bin due to trial, so therefore more money has to be spent to supply the bins.

    I believe that there are much more important things to put the money towards, and that people should step up to the plate and put recycling into their own hands, instead of those that do not give them the option. It is a wonderful thing, but sometimes with too much pressure good things can turn bad.


  2. I agree with Alanna and the idea of RecycleBank. Recycling is a harmless everyday task that anyone and everyone can do. It is the same process of throwing out garbage, but in a separate bin. We all love to buy Gatorades, Soda cans, and even disposable coffee cups. But if we keep burning through our natural resources, burning a hole in the o-zone layer and polluting our earth, who’s to say that these small items will still exist in the future. We have the power to help our planet and if that isn’t rewarding in and of itself, RecycleBank now gives its participants compensation for the act of recycling. I don’t see how it can get any better than that. People who have already been recycling for years on their own now get to enjoy a treat along with it. Those who don’t usually recycle will now have the incentive to start because they will be getting a physical prize. I think that using a rewards program is a much better approach to bringing in new recyclers rather than forcing it upon them with fines. We are a product of the world that we live in and each and every human being on this planet should be proud to give back and help keep the earth clean.

    I think having the RFID tags on the recycle bins, along with bigger recycle bins are great aspects to this program. The RFID tags help to monitor the amount of recyclables that each family is disposing properly off. They also provide a form of entertainment for each family. Families, especially with kids, will teach each member the process of recycling and will monitor their personal number of reward points on the internet. Kids will enjoy doing what was once a tedious chore and will run to the computer after the recycling truck has made its way around the neighborhood.

    When it comes to the RFID tagged recycle bins, some questions come to mind. If a family loses or breaks their can, do they pay for another one or does the town provide a replacement? If all the neighbors’ identical cans are outside on a windy or stormy day, how will the RFID system know if someone took the wrong can for their house? I have heard that idiotic teens who first get their driver’s license go “Canning” and hit empty garbage cans with the front of their cars and continue to drive. Will this action affect the RFID tags? There are a few issues to consider when implementing this RecycleBank, but overall, I support this program. It will reward those who already respect our environment and will promote others to become a part of the movement. Americans have enough money issues and I do not see a reason to create any more. Recycling should not become a threat. It should be open to everyone but only rewarding the people who put the time and effort to contribute.

  3. I thought the RFID’s in trashcans was an innovative way to get people to recycle. It is a great way to promote recycling and going green, but I feel that penalizing those with fines for not recycling is going a bit too far.

    Reading further into Cleveland’s use of the RFID’s, I read that the city issued 2,900 tickets, nearly five times more tickets than in 2008. Citations include people who put out their trash too early or fail to bring in their garbage cans from the curb in a timely manner. I also read that the Division of Waste Collection is on track to meet its goal of issuing 4,000 citations this year.

    I would find this annoying and an inconvenience if one morning I accidently took out the trash too late or put it out too early. Getting fined for this seems a bit absurd, especially if it is for $100. Also reading that the Division of Waste Collection wanted to meet its goal of issuing 4,000 citations seemed like they were looking to hand out tickets to residents. I agree that they should promote recycling, but having a goal to cite a number or residents seems a bit much. I understand that the division wants residents to take the change seriously, but the tickets I feel would just anger people to the point where it would cause a problem.

    As innovative as this is, I feel that the cost is not worth it, especially if the division is receiving large sums of money in fines. This just means that their goal to make people recycle is not working. I believe you can promote recycling as much as possible, but forcing people to is wrong. I read that the City Council approved spending $2.5 million on high-tech carts for 25,000 households across the city. This just seems like an excessive amount of money that can be used elsewhere.

    When researching the RFID’s in trashcans I found another interesting way in which they were being used. A management system called The FleetMind provides Waste and Recycling firms with an advanced solution for automated garbage collection and the management of individual carts and customers. This system can quickly identify carts that have been moved or stolen, or require servicing. RFID tags automate the service verification process because the truck implements the route. The lifts are confirmed automatically when the FleetLink on-board system reads and recognizes that the garbage cans are collected. After each stop, the confirmation data is sent immediately to the back office allowing customer service to respond to customer inquiries or complaints. I thought this was another innovative way RFID’s were being used in this respect.




  4. Becoming environmentally friendly is not only trying to better the world we live in but it seems almost to be more of a fad in today’s society. People are jumping on this bandwagon sporting all different environmental things from tee-shirts, to stickers on their car, or even the bags that they carry. I believe that someone should want to save the environment on their own, not because everyone else is or because they are told to do so.

    This is just the case in Cleveland. The city has issued 25,000 people to have garbage cans with RFID devices implemented in them. The town then can use the RFID devices to measure how much a household recycle. I think that that this is a great step in the right direction for cities to reduce the level of waste. It is vital that people recycle, but not if they don’t choose to. The one thing that I don’t agree with in this plan is that the city of Cleveland will fine families 100 dollars if the RFID device detects that they didn’t recycle enough. I think that instead families should be rewarded for positive behavior with things such as a slight tax break. Any little incentive will keep people moving in a positive direction.

    Another major concern that I see with this new garbage can is the mere fact that it is technology, which has the ability to malfunction. What if Cleveland continued to fine families who they thought weren’t recycling enough and the RFID device in their garbage can had got wet from rain an no longer was accurate. This is unfortunate for the family because the will have to spend a lot of time appealing this case with little evidence once the city removes their garbage. I also feel that this is a big brother type of situation. Your city knowing exactly what you put into your garbage is an invasion of privacy. If there already going through your garbage now, what is next for them?

    I think that it is very important to recycle, but only if you are doing it for the right reasons. Incentives don’t make recycling bad, but fines do. I think it can be considered unethical for a city to come in and demand what percentage of your garbage should be recyclable. Where will they stop from there? Although officials are trying to better your city, I think the citizens should have a say whether they are 100% on board.

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  6. After reading this article, I realized that RFID tags could sure enough, be the way of the future. I then asked myself what else RFID tags is being used for and how businesses are implementing them? RFID tags stand for Radio Frequency Identification, which is the use of a wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking. Most tags require no battery and are powered and read at short ranges through magnetic fields. A prime example of something using an RIFD scanning method is through our college ids where we can swipe into the building for the door to open is a definite practice that RFID tags are used in. That is a common way we see RFID tags used but using them in trashcans is a different story. As Alanna said, using RFID tags in trashcans are soon becoming the norm. I feel that if we get to the point where they are using RFID tags to monitor our recycling intake. I feel that this is a start for Big Brother to watch over our every move. Even though Alanna made some interesting points as to having these RFID tags in trash cans is a way for our world to be cleaner and safer I feel that this giving up our freedom as to if we should recycle or not. Yes recycling is important but one should not have to feel guilty or looked down upon in a society if they decided not to recycle last week. What are they going to do next demand that RFID tags should be in everyone’s refrigerators to monitor everyone’s intake of food? RFID tags therefore can be the start to a very wrong and scary controlling future.

    I then was interested to find additional information of how RFID tags are being used in a more positive way. In an article written from “Engineer’s Edge” they advocate a way for RfID tags to help find keys, phone, and other personal belongings. The article states that a team in Dubai has developed the concept of an IPURSE which is a mobile platform that keeps track of tiny RFID tags that can be inserted to one’s personal possessions such as cell phones, cameras, laptops, keys, even the little things such as notebooks. IPURSE is able to uniquely merge RFID and NFC (near-field communication) technologies together into a single system. The system identifies when a phone for instance is taken out of someone’s bag. The system can also incorporate additional smart features such as a weather check if it is raining and an RFID tag is on someone’s umbrella it can remind them to take out there umbrella. The RFID tags can allow someone to therefore know when something is needed. The Dubai team is also trying to link the system to social networks so that friends and contacts can be alerted if one’s cell phone goes missing or a family member can be notified when door keys are lost. As we can see using RFID tags to locate lost items is an example of a positive way of using RFID tags to help make humans lives more efficient. RFID in trashcans however is taking it too far.