Residents of Ghent, Belgium use an advanced radio-tag- (RFID) based pay-as-you-throw data collection system that purports to measure the city’s waste stream down to the pound. According to a post on Greenopolis, trash and organic waste carts fitted with special RFID tags, or “IntelliGhent” chips, make it possible to track each emptying of the bins. A device on collection vehicles reads customer data (name, address, type and size of container) on the chips. That information is then used to generate automatic bills each day. Recyclables go in blue plastic bags printed with specific instructions as to what is and isn’t accepted for recycling.
These and several other forward-thinking moves have helped the city’s diversion rate to skyrocket since 1995. That accomplishment is undercut somewhat by the revelation that the system has had a negligible effect on or possibly increased greenhouse gas emissions.