Reuters

A Florida town tests a monitoring system that makes sure its residents are recycling properly.

It costs $42 for the city of Lake Worth, Florida, to dispose of a ton of garbage. But for every ton of recyclable material the city collects, it can earn about $10, which is why Lake Worth is launching a renewed effort to encourage and even reward recycling among its residents. And they’re using a new type of waste management technology to make sure it happens.

The city, located in southeast Florida, is launching a one-year pilot program that will bar-code and track the recycling bins at about 9,000 households, and even use video monitoring to make sure that what’s in those bins is actually recyclable. As The Miami Herald reports, the tracking system will be used to note which households are recycling – and recycling correctly – and potentially to offer a rebate or other incentive to encourage more recycling.

The more recycling the city’s able to collect, the less it has to pay for garbage disposal, which is seen as justification for the roughly $150,000 cost of installing and using this tracking system.

To track the bins, bar codes will be assigned to each one. Two of the city’s waste management trucks will then be retrofitted with bar code readers, as well as a video monitoring system that will be able to inspect the contents of bins.

A small monitoring camera allows drivers to make sure the material placed in the recycling container is recyclable. If someone puts grass clippings in a recycling container, for example, the driver can press a button so the homeowner is not credited for recycling that day.

The tracking program is similar to another recycling initiative in Cleveland, which The Atlantic Cities covered back in September. In that program, recycling bins are affixed with bar codes and radio frequency identification chips to track how much recycling is happening. Rather than incentivizing recycling, as they’re hoping to do in Lake Worth, Cleveland’s program disincentivizes not recycling by levying citations and fines against homeowners who aren’t recycling enough, as Matt Stroud reported.

Using the radio frequency chips, employees of the city’s Waste Collection Department would visit homes with inactive recycling bins and sift through their garbage. If the garbage contained more than 10 percent recyclable materials, offenders would be fined $100. Heftier fines of $250 or $500 could be attached to claims that households threw away excessive amounts of trash or too much yard waste.

Though Lake Worth’s program is only a pilot, officials there are hopeful that the tracking system will lead to a citywide program and citywide rebates.

Photo credit: Michaela Rehle / Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: a pair of homes in Pittsburgh
    Equity

    The House Flippers of Pittsburgh Try a New Tactic

    As the city’s real estate market heats up, neighborhood groups say that cash investors use building code violations to encourage homeowners to sell.  

  2. Life

    The Cities Americans Want to Flee, and Where They Want to Go

    An Apartment List report reveals the cities apartment-hunters are targeting for their next move—and shows that tales of a California exodus may be overstated.

  3. Design

    Long Before Levittown, Brooklyn Boasted Mass-Produced Housing

    The small community of Gerritsen Beach was a pioneering cookie-cutter suburb in the 1920s.

  4. Life

    Can Toyota Turn Its Utopian Ideal Into a 'Real City'?

    The automaker-turned-mobility-company announced last week it wants to build a living, breathing urban laboratory from the ground up in Japan.

  5. Bianca Wylie, a leading voice opposing Sidewalk Labs' dramatic neighborhood development plan in Toronto.
    Life

    Meet the Jane Jacobs of the Smart Cities Age

    All eyes are on Sidewalk Labs' futuristic plans for a data-driven neighborhood in Toronto. But no one's watching more closely than Bianca Wylie.

×