High-Tech Trash Bins Rat Out Residents Who Refuse to Recycle

recycling bins photo

Photo via orphanjones via Flickr CC

Cleveland residents are about to get an extra incentive to recycle -- if they don't, their trash bins will tattletale and they'll be slapped with a $100 fine. The city is starting a new program that features trash bins embedded with microchips. If the recycling cart isn't rolled out to the curb on a regular basis, trash collectors are prompted to go through the bins to make sure recyclables are being sorted correctly. If they're not, the residents will pay for their laziness. Cleveland.com reports that the extra Big Brother-style monitoring comes as a drive to boost up recycling rates and divert waste from landfills. Any trash containers found to contain more than 10% recyclable materials will be cause for a fine. The city has money on the mind when it comes to this program -- it pays $30 a ton to dump garbage in landfills but can earn $26 a ton for recyclables. Clearly, it pays to get people sorting their waste. And not only will a fine be issued, but the city updated their trash ordinances to boost improper sorting from a minor misdemeanor to a civil penalty. Failing to recycle is no joke.

The program is an expansion of a pilot program started in 2007, which saw 15,000 bins distributed to households. Now, $2.5 million has been approved to purchase 25,000 new bins to be distributed citywide, and 25,000 per year after that until eventually all of the 150,000 residents of Cleveland have a new bin or an old one retrofitted with the microchips.

While such measures as monitoring your trash bins and being hit with a $100 fine might seem strict, take into account cities like San Francisco that fines citizens as much as $500 for failing to properly recycle plus the city has mandatory composting laws. All the attention to waste pays off, with an extraordinarily high waste diversion rate; nearly 80% of all waste is kept out of landfills.

An RFID that rats you out might feel harsh at first, but in the long run, it could very well be worth it if smart waste habits are created as a result.

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