Cleveland Smart Bins to Rat Out the Non-Recycler

At some point we've all taken the more congreenient route and not recycled because it was just plain easier to throw the piece of garbage in the regular bin. Generally this kind of flagrant disregard gets you reprimanded by a roommate, spouse, or family member, but nothing more. However, if you live in Cleveland, you might want want to drop the casual attitude to recycling, because you could soon be fined for it.

Cleveland plans to expand upon a 15,000-resident experimental program that began in 2007 and uses smart bins to ensure folks are putting their cans, bottles and cardboard in the right bins. By rolling out bins embedded with RFID chips to households, garbage men can keep track of how often a house puts out their bins, and in particular, their recycling. If you haven't put out your recycling for a while, a supervisor will sort your regular rubbish to check if you're throwing away materials you should be recycling. Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens told Cleveland.com that if your bin contains more than 10 percent recyclables (glass, metal cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard), you could be fined $100 for not recycling.

The city council has approved $2.5 million in funding for the smart carts, enabling the program to expand by another 25,000 households. The city plans to expand in 25,000 increments until all 150,000 houses are included in the plan.

Cleveland is also investing in nine automated garbage trucks that allow garbage men to stay in their trucks and empty bins using a robotic arm. The city already uses three of these special trucks.

Automated picks-ups are not Cleveland's only effort to tame bad refuse habits among residents. Cleveland.com reports that the city last month changed trash regulations, putting in place a new law regarding the smart bins, but also prohibiting people from setting out excessive amounts of trash on tree lawns. Fines for excessive trash range from $250 to $500 depending on the amount of rubbish.

Cleveland last year sent 220,000 tons of garbage to landfills and collected 5,800 tons of recyclables. The city pays $30 per ton, and earns $26 per ton of recycling.

Source: Cleveland.com

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  • So then buy your own can? Don't really live in a city where garbage is collected, but that seems the best solution to be sneaky. Are garbage people really going to go through so much trash to see what's inside it and calculate the % which is recyclable?
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  • stingstangSo then buy your own can? Don't really live in a city where garbage is collected, but that seems the best solution to be sneaky. Are garbage people really going to go through so much trash to see what's inside it and calculate the % which is recyclable?

    You Obviously don't live in a city. Most cities have a mandatory trash company that picks up your trash and the cost is included in your taxes.
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  • They'd be sniffing through my garbage all the time. I'm just plain lazy and only pitch my recycling in massive mounds once or twice a month - and fortunately we can add wrapped or bagged piles to our tiny open plastic bin without a penalty.

    However, I think this pro-active idea is going to backfire on them. Instead of people recycling properly people will be more likely to put food-tainted cardboard, unwashed milk bottles, and other improperly prepared recycling trash into the bins. Putting such tainted refuse in with the recycling can cause just as many problems.
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