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RFID Helps Reward Consumers for Recycling

Kraft Foods joins RecycleBank in its use of RFID to track and reward consumers for recycling.
By Claire Swedberg
An RFID interrogator, built by Avery Weigh-Tronix, is also attached at the back of the vehicle, which captures the ID number at a proximity of 12 inches or less as the bin is emptied. The reader and scale are connected to an onboard computer system that stores data. When the truck returns to the recycling center, a RecycleBank laptop and transponder receives that data from the vehicle's computer and sends it wirelessly to the RecycleBank Web-based server.

The consumer can then log into his or her personal account on the RecycleBank Web site, and view a record of how much they recycled, as well as statistics such as the amount of oil and the number of trees saved by that effort. They can then log into their credit record to determine how many RecycleBank Reward Points they received, based on the amount recycled. Each month, consumers can earn up to 35 RecycleBank Reward Points, which are redeemable for discount coupons from local businesses, as well Kraft Foods.

The tags have been working well, Gonen says. Since RecycleBank began using RFID, the company has had to adjust the system to ensure the read range is fairly short. If it's too long, he says, the reader captures ID numbers from all recycling bins in the vicinity simultaneously. "Accuracy is very important to us, and we are spending a lot of time researching the best tags," Gonen states. For that reason, the company has not yet settled on a specific tag manufacturer. And as its orders get larger, he says, that large-scale status may also determine which vendor it uses. Avery Weigh-Tronix currently supplies the tags.

According to Gonen, the tags have a life span of several years. "We've taken cities with almost no recycling and brought them to 40 percent [of their trash] being diverted from waste." That much less refuse is discarded in landfills as a result.

The RecycleBank program is currently in use by more than 35 municipalities throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Jersey, with plans for nationwide expansion later this year. Thus far, Gonen says, RecycleBank households have diverted almost 36 million tons of recyclables from landfills.

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