NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Cleveland's Trash Cans = Cash Cans

August 26, 2010

The Cleveland City Council has approved spending $2.5 million on high-tech trash and recycling carts for 25,000 households across the city, expanding a pilot program that began in 2007 with 15,000 households, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. 

The City of Cleveland plans to sort through curbside trash to make sure residents are recycling -- and fine them $100 if they do not.  The move is part of a high-tech collection system the city will roll out next year with new trash and recycling carts embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes, says the Plain Dealer. 

How do the chips work? 

  • The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection:
  • If a chip shows a recyclable cart hasn't been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.
  • Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens. 

The chip-embedded carts are just starting to catch on elsewhere, says the Plain Dealer: 

  • The Washington, D.C., suburb of Alexandria, Va., earlier this year announced it would issue carts to check whether people are recycling.
  • Some cities in England have used the high-tech trash carts for several years to weigh how much garbage people throw out; people are charged extra for exceeding allotted limits.  

Cleveland officials want to automate nearly all residential waste collection under a program being financed in part by a new fee that went into effect earlier this year.  The automated trucks allow drivers to remain in the cab and empty carts using a remote-control arm.  Cleveland owns three of these trucks and plans to buy nine more, says the Plain Dealer. 

Source: Mark Gillispie, "High-tech carts will tell on Cleveland residents who don't recycle... and they face $100 fine," Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 20, 2010. 

For text: 


Browse more articles on Environment Issues