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JULY 15 - JULY 23, 2014

Big Brother In Your Garbage Cans? New Totes Have RFID Chips to Monitor Recycling

By Frank Parlato

July 15, 2014

Last April 17, the Niagara Falls City Council approved Mayor Paul A. Dyster's proposal to buy some 45,000 refuse and recycling totes from Cascade Cart Solutions of Grand Rapids, Mich., for $2,124,449, the low bidder for the contract. Casino funds were used for this purchase.

The wheeled, blue 64-gallon refuse carts cost $42.78 each and green, 96-gallon recycling carts cost $50.96 each. The price included delivery. 

Included also in the over-all price was $19,389 for 10 year software licensing and a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded in each tote.  

Cascade, which beat out three other companies to win the bid, uses the RFID chip with their licensed Web-based, cloud-managed software for tracking, maintaining and reporting on the whereabouts of every tote. 

Using the chips inside, with GPS systems and cloud computing, the city can monitor maintenance and location information of their new totes. 

The city's totes can be located and accurately tracked for service history, swaps, drops, repairs and removals. The city can also track how often someone brings his tote to the curb. 

The Dyster garbage plan - set to commence Aug. 1-allows for refuse to be picked up at the curb on a weekly basis and recycling on a biweekly basis. It limits weekly per-family refuse disposal to what fits inside a single 64 gallon tote, the smallest limit for any city that provides curbside service known in the USA. 

Niagara Falls will be the first American city to use smaller refuse totes than recycling totes and, at the same time, refuse to allow families to obtain additional totes, even for additional fees, prompting critics to call it the most oppressive and least friendly garbage service in America.

It may also not work.

While the city’s recycling rate is presently four percent, the lowest in the region, for the plan to work, with enforced, smaller refuse totes, and large recycling totes, the city will have to become the best recycling community in the region immediately. 

Amherst currently tops the list at 28 percent, yet has larger refuse totes than recycling totes. In fact, like every other city, other than Niagara Falls, the totes are reversed: 96 gallon totes are for refuse and 64 gallon totes are for recycling.

The RFID chip inside your new garbage totes are small, but can deliver information.


The RFID chips in Niagara Falls' new reversed-sized totes, however, makes it possible for the city to head not only in the direction of enforced, limited (64-gallon per week) refuse disposal, but also to adopt what some cities employ: enforced recycling.

Presently, the new Dyster disposal ordinance states that recycling is voluntary, yet provides fines of up to $250 per day for people who try to throw out more than what can be put inside a 64 gallon tote per week. 

However, the RFID chips Dyster is using for Niagara Falls, with some additional equipment, are being used in a number of cities to track and fine residents who do not recycle "properly." 

Cities that use RFID chips to spy on trash include: Cleveland, OH., Charlotte, N. C., Alexandria, Va.; Boise, Id.; Dayton, OH., and Flint, Mich.

Cleveland launched a program that uses their RFID chips to monitor how often residents roll their totes to the curb for collection. If a chip shows a recyclable tote hasn't been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will come to the house on garbage day and sort through the resident's trash. If the trash tote is found to contain more than 10 percent recyclable material, the owner can get a $100 fine. If the inspected garbage has glass, metal cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard, amounting to more than 10 percent of the total garbage in the tote, the home owner can expect to be fined.

Will Niagara Falls start trash inspections and begin fining people for not recycling? The technology is there.

Now all Dyster has to do is use it.





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Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina