- Lakeshore Recycling Systems is implanting Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in carts for customers in Chicago's Highland Park. The chips — which will notify waste haulers where to send the bill for collection — will be available to residents who currently pay for their collection service by volume.
- About 40% of residents currently use the volume service (as opposed to monthly service) because they're away for part of the year. So far, they've been paying for individual stickers to place on their carts each time the trash is put out.
- The neighborhood will switch to RFID on Aug. 1 and residents will have until Nov. 30 to redeem unused stickers with the city. Stickers will still be required for yard waste collection.
While this technology is new to Chicago, it has existed in Europe for years, and many other U.S. cities have begun making the switch as well. Roanoke, VA moved to RFID carts in 2015 and Baltimore residents now have a choice of different cart sizes which include RFID chips.
This technology could make sense for other cities which already have, or are interested in, pay-as-you-throw programs. The chips will make the process easier for residents and could also allow municipalities to track participation in recycling programs. A representative from Lakeshore told the Tribune they have no intention of monitoring individual households' activities.
Some buildings in Seoul, South Korea have begun taking that approach in an effort to reduce food waste. The bins weigh how much waste residents put in and charge them accordingly. Some experts have also talked about using RFID technology in connection with pneumatic tubes for new high-rise buildings.