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In Illinois, RFID Makes It Easier for Residents to Pay as They Throw

Lakeshore Recycling Systems is using EPC Gen 2 tags and readers to track usage of the waste-collection services it provides to the cities of Wheaton and Highland Park.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 17, 2016

The Illinois city of Wheaton is the latest municipality to adopt an RFID-based waste-tracking system from Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS). The city signed a five-year contract that encompasses collection of residential trash and recyclables and the tracking of each customer's bin via an RFID tag attached to it.

LRS has been serving the greater Chicago area with waste removal and recycling for the past 17 years. The company began offering RFID in 2015 when it incorporated the technology in the pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) waste-disposal program in Highland Park, Ill. With PAYT, each home is charged according to how much waste is picked up in front of their home.

At the front of each LRS truck, an RFID reader is installed on the arm that raises the cart to the hopper.

"In PAYT communities, the benefit of convenience, along with easier billing is important to residents and municipalities," says Bill Kenney, Lakeshore Recycling Systems' municipal manager. "We felt that RFID technology would be a good fit for the city, since a large percentage of its residents were using a PAYT system for their services."

Highland Park has offered the PAYT volume-based services since at least 1993, says Hayley Garard, assistant to Highland Park's city manager.

The PAYT system, prior to RFID technology use, Garard explains, came with some inconvenience for residents. A resident needed to visit a local store to buy paper stickers that were placed on trash bins, estimating in advance how many they might need. When waste removal workers emptied a bin, they collected the sticker. The PAYT system thereby ensured residents paid only for the amount of waste they needed to have picked up, which encouraged them to keep their waste levels as low as possible. If they had fewer bins emptied, they needed to buy fewer stickers.

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