Micro-chipped bins: questions & answers
Every wheeled bin in South Norfolk has a micro-chip in it, but we are no longer recording any data about the waste we collect from your bins. The data we collected is inconsistent because the system to gather it is unreliable, so we stopped using it in September 2007. The information below tells you why we trialled the system in the first place, and why we have stopped using it.
Questions & answers
When did we start with the chip-and-bin?
Autumn 2002. We were the first council in the country to pilot the new technology. We put it in one bin lorry and gradually extended to the whole fleet of 12 bin lorries as we rolled the twin bin refuse and recycling service to all homes in the district.
How much did it cost?
We got a £1.123 million grant from the Government to provide the kerbside refuse and recycling service. We used it to buy bin lorries and bins - which came fitted with microchips. The lorries have onboard computer systems to record bin weights.
How is it meant to work?
The chip "talks" to the on-board computer via an antenna. As the bin lifts it is weighed six times as it goes up, and six times as it goes down. The weights and property address are meant to be recorded.
When did we notice it wasn't working?
The manufacturers developed the technology for trade waste collections - an average of 60 to 80 bin lifts a day. By 2006, when every home now had wheeled bins in South Norfolk, it was being used a thousand times a day. That's when we really began to notice.
Why didn't we switch it off then?
We had received a substantial grant, and believed we had a responsibility to stick with it. That cost staff hundreds of hours of time in contact with the software firm, the weighing system supplier and the bin supplier, through meetings, email and phone calls.
How did the crews cope?
Their first priority was collecting and emptying bins. If a technology problem stopped a bin lifting for any reason, the crew would override the system to get the bin emptied and finish the round.
Why didn't it work?
It wasn't robust enough to cope. That meant software, cabling, mechanical and other problems. When your first priority is to serve people by emptying their bins, you override the system, forget about losing the data, and get on with the job.
When did we stop recording the data?
In September 2007. A new administration took over control of South Norfolk Council in May 2007, on a manifesto commitment not to introduce the Government's 'pay as you throw', using microchips in bins technology. Concern about pay as you throw, and the technology failures, led to the system switch off.
What about my data?
The data we have is unreliable and inaccurate. It was not collected consistently, for the reasons given above, and we switched the system off in September 2007. We have no confidence in it and nor should our residents.
|contact officer/team:||Support Team|
|web:||online enquiry form|
|freephone:||0808 168 3333|
|address:||South Norfolk Council
South Norfolk House
Norwich NR15 2XE
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Last updated on: 10 November 2010