Cleveland Enforces Recycling with High-Tech Bins

Cleveland residents: Don't care about sorting the recycling? Don't think it's your secret anymore. The city is rolling out new bins that will actually track whether people are recycling. Each bin is tagged with a radio frequency identification chip that lets trash collectors monitor how often it's taken to the curb. If the recycling bin isn't getting out very often, a "trash supervisor" can then check the contents of the trash bin to make sure it isn't stuffed with recyclables. If it is, there's a $100 fine.

A pilot program using 15,000 of these bins began in 2007. Now the city is expanding the program, adding 25,000 more each year. Is it creepy to think that a city employee might go through your trash? Maybe. But it will be good for the environment and for Cleveland's struggling finances. Hauling a ton of trash to the landfill costs the city $30. A ton of recycling earns the city $26.