New RFID system tracks trash by household
Las Vegas, NV— Cascade Engineering
Inc. unveiled an automated system using “smart” waste
containers, data readers and scales on trash trucks that will
allow cities and towns nationwide to foster recycling and charge
households by the weight of trash they put on the curb.
The EcoNology system developed
by Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Cascade records the trash disposal
habits of individual households through the use of radio frequency
identification (RFID) chips embedded in plastic trash carts. Data
sensors on trash trucks read the RFID chips as the carts are being
lifted on forks outfitted with scales, and the weights of carts
are recorded through on-board computers. The data is then sent
to waste haulers that charge customers by the weight of trash
they set out for disposal and potentially reward households that
The benefits from the EcoNology
Waste management companies can gather detailed information on
recycling and trash operations in efforts to reduce landfill
•Asset Management. The unique RFID tag embedded on each
container discourages theft or illegal dumping and tracks all
activities that occur in the life of the asset.
•Improved operations. Automated data collection helps
optimize refuse truck usage, maintain container maintenance
records and streamline the customer billing process.
•Data for grants for recycling initiatives. Municipalities
often need data to support grants being submitted for federal
or state monies for recycling initiatives.
•Encourage recycling. The system
measures weights to within one pound of accuracy and is National
Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) certified. This means it can
be used with confidence to issue rebates and coupons to customers
who recycle diligently, such as the program that RecycleBank
developed in Philadelphia with Cascade and LTS Scale Corp.
Cascade tested the viability
of the automated data tracking and recording system through a
pilot program developed by RecycleBank in Philadelphia to encourage
recycling. As part of the program, Cascade supplied RFID-enabled
waste containers to about 5,000 households in two Philadelphia
The program gives participants
$5 in coupons for every 10 pounds of paper, cans and bottles they
put out on their curb each week. Households can earn up to $25
a month in coupons, good at participating retailers that absorb
the cost of the coupons. The city saves money on trash hauling,
households get discounts and businesses get patrons without advertising.
The percentage of households
who recycle in the test neighborhoods rose to 90 percent, up from
less than 25 percent at the start of the program in spring last
year. Not only did more homes participate, but they recycled more
of their trash. The average recycling rate, which compares how
diligent residents are about recycling everything allowed, rose
from less than 5 percent to more than 50 percent.