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Cleveland residents get RFID-equipped recycling

Comply or pay the price

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Residents in Cleveland, Ohio, will have to ensure their recycling is out on time or face a $100 fine for failing to do their bit.

RFID tags will be fitted to the recycling bins provide by the city council, and counted by passing rubbish-collection vans. Any residents whose recycling bin isn't on the curb over a couple of weeks will get a visit from the rubbish inspector, and face a $100 fine if it turns out they've been discarding recyclable goods.

It's not just for the good of the planet - the city council told Cleveland.com that a ton of recyclables can be sold off for $26, while a ton of landfill costs $30 to get shot of. 25,000 RFID-enabled bins and reading equipment for the vans will set the Council back $2.5m this year. The idea is to roll out similar numbers of tags every year until in five or six years the whole city is covered.

The council reckons that makes the project profitable, assuming that it encourages more recycling, so it's hard finance that prompts the measure rather than any limp-wristed liberal agenda.

Not that this has stopped the usual outrage from those who demand the right to produce rubbish. Over at Gizmodo the readers are doing just that: "Wow, what happened to freedom?" Others are less obtuse: "whats with the limiting of garbage? Wouldn't a high amount of refuse be a sign of a strengthening economy?"

The problem is that people are very lazy, and asking them politely obviously isn't working - give them a bin labelled "bottles" and some will manage to put glass into it, but the majority continue to put everything in one sack and expect someone else to deal with it. In the UK the idea of fining people for producing too much rubbish has been replaced with a scheme for rewarding people who produce less, though that still faces privacy concerns from people who consider the weight of their rubbish to be private.

Cleveland isn't planning to weigh anything, just check the bin is on the street on the right day. You don't have to recycle, but you do have to make a decision not to. ®

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