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Is It Possible to Use RFID to Track Recycling Bins?

Posted By RFID Journal, 06.21.2010
Can radio frequency identification technologies be utilized for this application?

—Name withheld

It's not only possible, it is being done.

Rewards for Recycling, a Michigan-based startup launched by Richfield Management (a waste-disposal and -collection company operating in southeast Michigan) has created a system that delivers incentives—such as discounts at local restaurants or retail stores—to households that recycle trash. The system uses RFID to track the amount of refuse that families in the state's Genesee and Oakland counties recycle (see Michigan Households Get RFID-enabled Rewards for Recycling).

RecycleBank is a recycling program that employs RFID technology to track and reward consumers for recycling empty containers. It has been expanding its offering across the United States with technology to weigh recycling bins as they are lifted into the recycling truck, while also recording whose recyclables are being weighed. A consumer can then utilize that record to download a variety of coupons and other rewards, based on the amount of recycling he or she performed (see RFID Helps Reward Consumers for Recycling).

Howard County's Bureau Of Environmental Services, in Maryland, uses RFID to track the recycling efforts of residents. The county uses RFID-generated data to send postcards to those who fail to recycle. The missives educate recipients about the importance of recycling, and explain how it is done (see Communities Turn to RFID to Boost Recycling).

Last year, Mastec, an Australian manufacturer of general refuse, recycling and green waste bins, tested RFID technology's ability to identify each receptacle distributed to a home or business. Local hires and councils currently pay a fee to a waste-management company, regardless of whether that business actually empties local trash bins. As a result, many are mandating contractors to tag bins during distribution, to pair a serial number and address so that in the future, they can be charged only when a waste-collection truck visits and empties a particular bin.

Routeware, a provider of hardware and software for the waste industry, has been integrating low-frequency RFID readers with its DMS 5000 onboard computer so its customers can gain better visibility of drivers' pickup activities, and so they can track valuable assets, such as large trash receptacles, that are transported. Texas Instruments supplyied the RFID readers, as well as the passive tags—which are compliant with the ISO 11784 and 11785 RFID standards—that trash collectors attach to the receptacles, bins and other containers.

If you require any assistance locating a company that can help you deploy a solution, feel free to let me know.

—Mark Roberti, Editor,
RFID Journal

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