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. A rendering of Quayside, the waterfront development now being planned for Toronto.
    Solutions

    A Big Master Plan for Google's Growing Smart City

    Google sibling company Sidewalk Labs has revealed its master plan for the controversial Quayside waterfront development—and it’s a lot bigger.

  2. Passengers line up for a bullet train at a platform in Tokyo Station.
    Transportation

    The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

    The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.

  3. Design

    What Cities Can Do to Help Birds and Bees Survive

    Pollinators—the wildlife that shuffle pollen between flowers—are being decimated. But they may still thrive with enough help from urban humans.

  4. Anthony Bourdain in 2001, when he was still the chef-owner of Les Halles in New York City.
    Life

    Urbanists Could Learn a Lot From Anthony Bourdain

    The work of the acclaimed chef and writer, who has died at 61, provides a model for a truly inclusive urbanism based on the creativity of all human beings.

  5. Design

    Revisiting Pittsburgh’s Era of Big Plans

    A conversation with the trio of authors behind a new book about the Steel City’s mid-20th-century transformation.

×