The county I live in is really big on recycling. They would like to have 100% participation.
They’ve made it so easy that pretty much anything other than food, lawn waste and disposable diapers can go in the bin. No separating, no pulling labels off cans, no guessing what goes where. When in doubt throw it in, they’ll separate it when it gets to where ever it goes.
From what we’re hearing food containers are coming too, I guess for compost? as opposed to recycling. Well I hope for compost, I can’t imagine there’s much interest in recycled food.
They picked up all the old containers and gave everybody a nice new 65 gallon bin, with a lid, and wheels and upper handle to make it easy to pull and lower handles to make it easier to dump.
The cans also have a chip. RFID chip. The county doesn’t have the software to use them… yet, but figured it was cheaper to go ahead and add them in now rather than have to order new bins with them later.
Once the software is purchased and activated they will know who is and isn’t recycling, the location of the bins and how much the recycled trash weighs.
Some people are very upset by this. Every week there’s at least one comment in the local paper on how horrible it is too be chipped. They feel that the government is invading their privacy by knowing where their recycle bin is and how much it weighs.
There has been some talk of fining people who don’t recycle but it’s so damn easy I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t. We keep a little trash can under the sink and everything else goes right in the bin.
I figured once the trash hits the curb it’s fair game anyway so what’s the big deal.
It’s really stupid to weigh the amount of recyclables each household is getting rid of, unless you also weigh their trash. A household of 10 people who recycle a quarter of what they should is going to generate more recycled matter than a household of 2 that recycles 100% of what they should. And if people start getting fined for not recycling “enough,” they’re going to resort to being MORE wasteful–buying stuff with excessive packaging so they meet their quota, throwing away copy paper, etc–so they have enough recyclables for the bin. Some may even steal from their neighbor’s recycling bins.
My guess is that if you don’t generate “enough” recyclables they’ll come and investigate your garbage to see if you’re sorting. If there’s nothing recyclable in your garbage, you’re in the clear.
I’d probably get dinged at first only because in my city* we get our recyclables picked up every other week, but I only pull out my bin every 4-6 weeks. I figure if it’s less then half full, I’ll make it to the next pick up so why waste someone’s time stopping to pick up my bin…he/she can get it next time. Less labor, less wear and tear on the truck. Less work for me to pull it out and back in (especially if it’s raining or windy and might tip over). I do the same thing with my garbage.
I wonder if they’d pay me a visit if they noticed it wasn’t being emptied during each cycle.
I’d guess they’d have to wait a few months to a year before they come up with some sort of average for how much each person should be generating. Either based on how much their garbage weighs or how many people are in the house or some other metric. Either way, like I said, I’d guess all it would do is trigger someone from the city to come out and peek in your garbage to make sure it’s not full of soda cans, milk cartons and newspapers or old mail.
*They stopped sorting in my city about 6 or 7 years ago too. It was great. Used to be that, even though we had one bin, metal and plastic went directly in, paper went into a bag, in the bin at the top, cardboard had to be on top of the bin etc. Then they not only asked, but actually encouraged us to stop sorting. If it meets the city’s requirements for being recyclable, toss it in. Sooo much easier.
If they used it for statistical purposes, great. But fines are bad. I know of other places that do this, although I doubt they use RFID to check. Don’t know how, random checks or when someone complains is my guess. But I never know which way to move my criterion when sorting things. Is this food canister that has a paper outside and metallic inside paper or metal? This plastic doesn’t have a number, can I recycle it? The weight thing is dumb.
If they’re gonna nannystate it, I’d hope they at least give warnings and not an instant compulsory fines. And use them against people to flout the rules, not minor infractions.
When we first got recycling bins, the city contracted with a company that gave us “points” for the amount (by weight) we recycled. We could then trade those “points” for items, usually coupons or discounts on various products or services. The city didn’t renew their contract after a couple of years; it was apparently not cost-effective. Aside from that program, they’ve never used the information for anything except statistics. I always thought the idea of gauging recycling participation by the weight of the recyclables was stupid. Aluminum weighs a whole lot less than, say, phone books, but it’s a whole lot more valuable.
That said, I love my recycling cart. The very best part is where I don’t have to separate items (except for the glass I still have to take in to a center) and I can just wheel that sucker out to the curb on Tuesday morning and wheel it back up when I get home from work.
I don’t get all the people who are in an uproar over this.
It’s trash, once it hits the curb it’s not private anymore anyway.
I doubt the government is going to start picking through my trash and even if they do, who cares if they see pizza boxes, soup cans and milk cartons?
Anything private will go through the shredder and if anybody wants to sit down and tape all that back together … knock yourself out.
They’ve made it so easy to recycle here there’s really no excuse not to. It’s not like the old days of peeling labels and checking the numbers on plastic bottles and having separate containers for plastic, glass, paper and cans.
The local paper comes out twice a week and there are always Letters to the Editor complaining about the government invading our privacy by putting chips in the trash cans.
I would think most people complaining aren’t talking about privacy as their primary concern but the possibility of being fined. That happens in some places (Warning: Second hand anecdotes and I’ve never seen a bill. I’ve heard about San Francisco and Germany mentioned, but it might be a HOA issue rather than matter of law).
My step daughter (age 20) comes from a small isolated northern town that (I am guessing) doesn’t have recycling. We live in a condo building so you just put the stuff in the appropriate bin. She resents the whole recycling thing, is rarely puts her own jars, pop cans or papers in the recycling, and needs reminders for taking the trash/recycling out. We have a bag we take out daily, but she needs a bunch of prompts to do this. She will actually reach around the recycling, take out the kitchen garbage, move the bag of cans and jars away and put them back rather than take both small bags out. The last time my husband said anything to her she blamed the bag (its one of those grocery shopping reusable bags) having a broken handle so she didn’t like using it.) We subbed in a laundry bin. She still doesn’t use it. I hear her complaining to her mother “Out here they are like dictators for recycling.” I am not sure if the “dictators” are myself and husband, or the City of Vancouver.
One day when I didn’t retrieve her pop cans or things out of the trash she complained about how fast the garbage filled up. Grrr.
We recycle everything we can and usually that will amount to two or three times the volume of our regular trash. We do it because it’s the right and responsible thing to do, not because of any legal restriction. So yeah, chip me all you want. I couldn’t possibly care any less.
I always thought the fines came from putting non-recyclable stuff in the recycling bin (which wastes time, effort and money down at the recycling depot) rather than putting recyclable stuff in the regular garbage. But to be honest, I haven’t investigated it.
Functionally this is no different from putting a bar code on the bins. RFID is very short range (a few feet if you’re using a super-high-power reader, a few inches in normal circumstances), and the tag literally contains just a number, like a bar code. But the word ‘chip’ scares people. Meh.
I don’t like the idea of fining people for not recycling enough, especially considering that recycling paper is not cost effective (and trees are a renewable resource anyway). But there’s a bunch of possible uses that don’t involve that, not the least of which is keeping track of the bins themselves. Sounds like a good move on the city’s part to go ahead and get bins with tags, even if they’re still figuring out how they’ll use them.