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Cleveland Smart Bins to Rat Out the Non-Recycler

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 40 comments

Cleveland has announced plans to expand upon a current program that fines residents for not recycling.

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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  • 1 Hide
    stingstang , August 24, 2010 1:06 AM
    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?
  • 7 Hide
    mrmoo500 , August 24, 2010 1:16 AM
    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.
  • 6 Hide
    mdillenbeck , August 24, 2010 1:29 AM
    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.
  • Display all 40 comments.
  • 9 Hide
    flea420 , August 24, 2010 1:32 AM
    So get mad at your neighbor and throw a bunch of cans inside his trash in the morning?
    This is just a scam by the city with a major flaw like this one.
    What a joke.
  • 5 Hide
    stm1185 , August 24, 2010 1:36 AM
    If they are going to be a bunch of douchenozzles like this then might as well make it easy and have it all sorted post consumer, then Tax the consumer for the service. That way it gets done for sure and people dont have to bother with multiple bins and sorting it out.

  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , August 24, 2010 1:38 AM
    Great idea! Tax the living heck out of your citizens, penalize them by double taxing the if they work in a suburb and live in the city, create a poor business climate, and expand another city run, big brother, poorly managed tax waste ( anybody been to the flats lately? ). I am so glad I do not live there anymore. I love to visit my family and friends, but how much crap can this city make clevelanders eat?
  • 3 Hide
    Dirty Durden , August 24, 2010 1:41 AM
    mhgamberGreat idea! Tax the living heck out of your citizens, penalize them by double taxing the if they work in a suburb and live in the city, create a poor business climate, and expand another city run, big brother, poorly managed tax waste ( anybody been to the flats lately? ). I am so glad I do not live there anymore. I love to visit my family and friends, but how much crap can this city make clevelanders eat?


    Amen Brother!!
  • 1 Hide
    webbwbb , August 24, 2010 1:48 AM
    I hope those supervisors are well paid...
  • -1 Hide
    ta152h , August 24, 2010 2:32 AM
    It's definitely a cute cat, and a nice picture, but I'm not getting the connection to recycling. Still, I like it.

    Cleveland just gave Joakim Noah more material,and they sure didn't need to.

    There's so much potential for abuse from so every angle on this, and so much potential for mistakes and lawsuits, I'm not at all clear this makes any sense. Maybe they are just planning on threatening and hoping leaving it at that. I think once they go further, they open up a can of worms, and a whole bunch of problems they aren't going to want to deal with.
  • 1 Hide
    LLJones , August 24, 2010 2:57 AM
    Unfrickenbeleivable. Now they want to control your garbage. Wow, speechless.
  • 6 Hide
    nukem950 , August 24, 2010 3:07 AM
    So Cleveland is now making it illegal not to recycle? Next they will make it illegal if people do not ride bikes at least 5 miles a week or if people do not exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.

    The people that I have talked to about the automated trucks hates them. There is a few times where the garbage people knock over cans and then drive off. They do not get out of the truck to pick up the can and empty it.
    Of course this could be just their areas.

    tldr: I do not like the ideas. Too much to go wrong and too controlling.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 24, 2010 3:24 AM
    Honestly you just charge the crap out of regular garbage. My area charges 3 bucks a bag of regular garbage but recycling is free. We recycle a bunch both because a) you should, you lazy sack and b) it saves us around $40 / month. Just keep ratcheting it up, people can be as lazy as they can afford, but at around $15/bag I imagine even the most stubborn people will take a couple extra minutes a week to deal with it.

    Of course people will slough some substandard recycling, but I can't believe the cost for the occasional breach outweighs the benefits. And you have plenty of money for pursuing the cheats.
  • 3 Hide
    jj463rd , August 24, 2010 4:46 AM
    I don't mind recyclying (which I do) but taking it to this degree (extreme fines) is NAZI environmentalism.Environmentalists are making practically everything people do in their normal lives illegal turning governments into tyrannies.
  • -2 Hide
    Caffeinecarl , August 24, 2010 4:55 AM
    Quote:
    The city pays $30 per ton, and earns $26 per ton of recycling.


    Last line tells me all I need to know. Want to lower your taxes? Recycle just 55% of all your garbage and the remainder of the pickup is essentially free. Recycle even more and maybe the city can afford to buy some new amenities for a nearby park. This only makes perfect sense.
  • 3 Hide
    techguy378 , August 24, 2010 5:01 AM
    In the past recycling companies have required customers to presort their recyclables. You had to put aluminum cans in one bin, plastic in another, for example. That's why I don't currently recycle. If the city I live in wants me to recycle they need to do all of the hard work. That's what I pay them for.
  • 1 Hide
    power hungry , August 24, 2010 6:24 AM
    jimmyjohnwatkinsHonestly you just charge the crap out of regular garbage. My area charges 3 bucks a bag of regular garbage but recycling is free. We recycle a bunch both because a) you should, you lazy sack and b) it saves us around $40 / month. Just keep ratcheting it up, people can be as lazy as they can afford, but at around $15/bag I imagine even the most stubborn people will take a couple extra minutes a week to deal with it.Of course people will slough some substandard recycling, but I can't believe the cost for the occasional breach outweighs the benefits. And you have plenty of money for pursuing the cheats.

    jimmyjohnwatkinsHonestly you just charge the crap out of regular garbage. My area charges 3 bucks a bag of regular garbage but recycling is free. We recycle a bunch both because a) you should, you lazy sack and b) it saves us around $40 / month. Just keep ratcheting it up, people can be as lazy as they can afford, but at around $15/bag I imagine even the most stubborn people will take a couple extra minutes a week to deal with it.Of course people will slough some substandard recycling, but I can't believe the cost for the occasional breach outweighs the benefits. And you have plenty of money for pursuing the cheats.


    I agree, in my town we use automated trucks for pickup, and they just weigh your bin before pickup and you are charged for the actual weight instead of a monthly fee. Our recycling pickup is not free, but is a reasonable $5 a month. The system converted me to a conscientious recycle/compost believer. I went from a half full bin to about half a kitchen sized garbage bag every week.
  • 1 Hide
    Travis Beane , August 24, 2010 8:42 AM
    MDillenbeckThey'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.

    As someone who worked in a recycling company, I completely support this.
    It sounds like it will cause more problems than it will solve. Not to mention that a lot of people will be angered at the city.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 24, 2010 11:29 AM
    Switch cans with ur neighbor when he's not lookin
  • 3 Hide
    Parrdacc , August 24, 2010 12:57 PM
    Is it just me or is anyone else noticing that a lot of cities and counties who are crying poor, have like millions of dollar budget problems, slashing jobs and making all sorts of excuses for cutting this and that; somehow have money for things like RFID embedded recycle bins, red light cameras, and God only knows what else.
  • 4 Hide
    HalJordan , August 24, 2010 1:12 PM
    "Dad, what started the second American Civil War?"

    "Well, son, it all started when city officials in Cleveland wanted to cram RFID tags into the butts of citizens to ensure they were eating their vegetables..."
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