I've just received a reply from Vale-Royal Borough Council and it goes like this:
"All of the councils `brown´ wheeled-bins, which have been purchased over the last few years and are used for garden waste, contain radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The introduction of this technology was a `future proofing´ exercise to ensure the council remained at the forefront of waste collections technology All `green´ wheeled bins for domestic waste are not tagged as they were purchased before the technology was introduced.
In the past we have used the information gained on the brown bin collections to programme expansion of the scheme and it enabled us to introduce extra rounds and also increased efficiency. We have also been able to identify properties whose bin has been rejected for emptying due to contamination and target those properties with further information and resolve the problem. Details on the 'tags' were publicised in the summer 2003 edition of 'recycling news' which is delivered free to all households within the borough.
The council currently has no plans to use tagging to monitor household waste. However, the council will be using in-depth monitoring to target those households that continue not to recycle through awareness raising and enforcement."
Hearing that some councils were bugging peoples bins to weigh the amount of waste people are chucking away (in the hope of taxing them on it no doubt) out I go to check mine. No bug on the household waste bin but, strangely, there is one on the green waste bin. I can't figure out why they would want to bug the bin that they do want you using!
Apparently, the reasoning behind all this is to find out how much waste is going to landfill. So why have Vale Royal put them on the bins that take the garden rubbish and cardboard?
Another argument is to settle who owns the bin, yet you can't rip the bug out because the bin is council property so I don't think they needed an electronic gadget to work out that it is in fact themselves who own the bin :)
Being a bit of a hippy I generally agree with being charged for how much stuff you chuck away, as it will get people sorting their waste better and generally thinking about what they are buying in the first place. BUT, I don't like being charged twice and foresee a bit of a backlash if they don't first knock off the cost of refuse collection from our Council tax. That way people who do recycle and buy less stuff with daft amounts of packaging etc will be encouraged because they may even be better off and pay less.
Problems (well fun and games at least) that I think will occur are:
- you have to put your bin out by 8am (or early anyway) so your neighbours have at least the morning to fill up your bin instead of their own so they don't pay as much.
- People will end up driving their rubbish to nice country lay-bys and leaving it there for the council to clean up for free (but not until the foxes have spread it over a couple of hundred metres or so).
- People will lose the feel good factor they get from recycling - the people of Vale Royal are proud of how high up the recycling league they are (10th in the country 2004/5 - http://www.letsrecycle.com/info/localauth/league/2004ranked.htm)
If the council continue to work in such an under-hand way they run the risk of quashing this feel good factor that may end up having a detrimental affect on the whole recycling drive.