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JULY 22 - JULY 30, 2014

Dyster Claims RDIF Chips in Recycling Totes Will Not be Used for Enforcement

By Frank Parlato

July 22, 2014

In San Francisco, trash inspectors get up early to inspect trash. Our trash inspectors coming to Niagara Falls? Mayor Dyster says he has no plans to enforce recycling.

In what appears to be in response to our story "Big Brother In Your Garbage Cans?,"  WIVB TV news aired a story the Mayor may have hoped would quell concerns.

Here is the WIVB report (with our comments in parenthesis):

“Niagara Falls, N.Y. (WIVB)- There may be something inside your brand new-city delivered garbage tote that you should know about.  A tracking chip may be embedded inside. 

“Niagara Falls, like many other municipalities across the country, wants to better manage it assets, including the $2 million dollars worth of blue and green carts it is distributing to its residents.  Blue for garbage, green for recyclables. The money came from casino revenue.

“The  Radio-Frequency Identification chip can be ‘pinged’ with a scanner at any time by the city. The scanner must be within six feet of the tote.  Why this high-tech tracking system?

“‘We want to be able to identify where the carts are dropped off, and then to make certain they don’t get stolen,’ said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.  If they are stolen, the thief can be tracked down. Totes can also be identified if they are blown away from a house in a storm.”

(Wait a minute. How can you track down a thief if the scanner has to be within six feet of the tote? What if the thief takes it to his backyard more than six feet from the curb?)

The WIVB story continues:

“Residents (actually just two were quoted in the story) don’t seem to see this as ‘Big Brother’ watching their garbage.  

“‘Oh goodness,’ said Anne Perno.  ‘I think there’s a chip embedded in everything nowadays, so I’m not too worried about that.’

“But could the chip be used to identify residents who are not properly recycling, or not following the garbage disposal laws?

“‘I guess you could say they’re going to maybe check and see who is recycling and who isn’t,’ said Falls resident Terri Gregg.  But she too, didn’t seem worried.  ‘We’re real big recyclers so I guess that doesn’t bother me.’

“Thousands of municipalities are using the chips, according to Wayne la Malva of Cascade Engineering, the company that manufactured the totes for Niagara Falls.  He says the tracking devices can be used to educate residents. 

“‘You know, someone in the city may go up and knock on their door and say here’s a list of what’s acceptable and what’s not.’  But la Malva adds ‘In terms of fining people, that’s not really the intention of what it is.’”

(la Malva admits somebody may come up to your door to educate you, but not fine you. That would not be up to la Malva. If the chips can be used to monitor people and send someone to their door to "educate" them, common sense tells you that they can also be used to fine people who don’t learn fast enough.) 

The WIVB story continues: 

“Mayor Dyster tells News 4, ‘…We don’t have any plans to utilize the chips for any enforcement purpose.’”

(Let us parse this: Dyster did not say the chips do not have the capability of being used for enforcement. He did not say he will "never" use the chips for enforcement. He said there are no “plans” to use the chips for enforcement.  Plans change.)

The WIVB story concludes:

“Just how far might some cities go in monitoring compliance with garbage disposal laws?  Falls resident Perno commented ‘If the government wants to take the time and effort to go through my garbage, let ‘em.  I’m not that important, I don’t think.’”



Is Perno's comment representative? Are most people content to have city officials going through their garbage? 

The RDIF chips embedded in the totes can monitor recycling only insofar as they can tell how often an individual takes his recycling tote to the curb. 

While compliance is currently voluntary, Mayor Dyster has chips embedded in the totes that can aid in enforcing recycling. 

Cleveland, for instance, is one that uses these chips for enforcement. There, if a resident does not take the recycling tote out to the curb, after a certain period, an inspector will examine the resident's trash to see if he is throwing out material that should be recycled. If more than 10 percent of recycled material is found inside his trash tote, he can be fined $100. 

Cleveland’s trash fines more than quadrupled in one year after installing totes with chips in them.

Dyster told the Reporter at a public hearing on the trash ordinance last week that "There is going to be a lot more educating than enforcing in the beginning of the program."!

Yet the ordinance has stiff enforcement penalties? First offense is  a warning. After that fines begin at $50. They soon escalate to $250 per day for repeat offenders.

These fines, of course, are not planned presently for recycling violators, but for other trash offenses.  Recycling is voluntary for now in the city. 

The Reporter has merely indicated that the city has the same kind of radio chips embedded in the totes that other cities use to enforce recycling. 

Stay tuned.


An RDIF chip embedded in your new garbage totes can tell the city how often you bring your recycling tote to the curb.






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Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina