Smart Cans

Soon Barcelona's trash cans will ask to be emptied.

In an effort to “optimize” litter collection, the city of Barcelona, Spain has announced it will equip its 18,000 garbage bins with microchips designed to monitor litter activity and maintenance needs.

Once installed, the chips will transmit information, via a hand-held computer, to garbage collectors. For example, the chips will tell collectors when a bin last was emptied, how full the bin is and whether the bin needs a new coat of paint, a city council spokesman told Reuters.

In total, the project will cost the city $113,000, he said, adding, “As far as I know, this is the first project of its kind in Spain if not the world.”
Source: Reuters


After finding hundreds of live tarantulas and scorpions writhing in a passenger-terminal garbage bin, one Bogota, Colombia airport worker never again will see emptying the trash as mundane.

Apparently the victims of a botched smuggling effort, the golf-ball-sized arachnids had been packed in separate boxes en route to Japan.

“These are exotic arachnids, and collectors are willing to pay a lot of money for them,” wildlife expert Jorge Hernandez told the Associated Press.

For the spiders and scorpions whose natural habitat is the jungle and tropical forests, the airport experience was traumatic, according to Hernandez.

“They were a bit stressed-out and dehydrated after their ordeal,” he said. So authorities sent the creatures to a rehabilitation center to recover on a diet of crickets and worms.

The smuggled survivors since have been released into the forests of their native Columbia.
Source: Reuters

Bartering for Dot-Com Trash

San Francisco's landscape is littered with the remains of failed dot-coms. But thanks to, a website where San Franciscans can get the scoop on everything from job openings to party listings, a few of the remains won't be littering nearby landfills.

Instead of throwing away once-prized promotional goodies such as Frisbees and key chains, 400 San Francisco techies recently unloaded their desk drawers at's “Schwag Exchange.” Held at a local bar, the party allowed attendees to trade fleece jackets for glitter sunscreen and blow-up chairs for fishing caps.

Party-goers established an elaborate trading system, wherein one battery-operated clock from Evolve was worth one roll of company-labeled toilet paper from Ezboard, and so on. Founder Patty Beron told the San Francisco Business Times that she was happy to provide an excuse for dot-com housecleaning. But some attendees left the party wondering whether it was Wall Street or tchotchkes that sunk the budgets of so many San Francisco Internet companies.
Sources: The Industry Standard magazine and San Francisco Business Times

Don't Feed the Rats

Washington, D.C.'s war on rats may have some unusual casualties. Blaming residents and local businesses for the city's worsening rodent problem, authorities have established new rat control measures that include first-offense fines of up to $1,000 for improper trash disposal.

“We are holding residents and businesses accountable for waste management and disposal,” Mayor Anthony Williams told the Associated Press.

Meanwhile the city, which is willing to shoulder some of the rat-prevention burden, has purchased 75,000 new trash cans designed to keep rats out. And, the city's new Board of Rodent Control is searching for rat infestations and setting traps.

After the mayor announced these measures to a crowd of residents in the city's restaurant-laden Adams Morgan neighborhood, one coffee shop-owner said, “I hope the target remains the rats and doesn't become the businesses.”
Source: Associated Press