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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Charlotte's "Big Brother" Gov't Recycling Program Is Here!

Transmitters In New Charlotte Recycling Bins Prompt Privacy Concerns Among Neighbors

Small transmitters embedded in the city's new household recycling containers have sparked privacy concerns among some residents.

The radio-frequency identification devices can be scanned by collection crews when the bins are left curbside, according to Adria Collis, a spokesperson with the Charlotte's Solid Waste Services.

Data will help determine which neighborhoods recycle, allowing the city to focus educational efforts on communities which are not using the containers, Collis said.

Crews can also keep an inventory of the containers, which cost taxpayers nearly $40 each, she said.

Beginning in July, the collection of recyclables will occur every two weeks, instead of weekly. The savings from the less frequent collections will take the equivalent of 22 trucks off the road and will more than offset the cost of the containers, officials have said.

More than 200,000 homes are scheduled to receive the 96-gallon bins by the end of next month.

The larger cans, are the same size as city-issued trash receptacles, replace the 18-gallon bins which have been used by Charlotte for about 16 years.

Several homeowners contacted by NewsChannel 36 said they were not aware the new containers were equipped with the electronic transmitter.

"It’s information that indicates how you live your life, including something as simple as garbage disposal," said homeowner Scott Broyles. "I think at the very least you ought to be informed of that ahead of time."

Other viewers have e-mailed NewsChannel 36 with similar concerns.

"“It sounds like Big Brother will be watching," wrote one viewer. "I am already a recycler and do not need the city government to look over my shoulder.”

"It feels like an invasion of privacy,” said another viewer.

Collis said the transmitters cannot monitor the type of materials which are placed in the recycling bin and none of the data collected by the city will be made public.

The recycling record of individual homes will not be tracked by Solid Waste Services, Collis said.

Nancy Carter, vice-chairman of city council's environmental committee, said residents should not be concerned about data collected by Solid Waste Services.

City-issued trash containers have serial numbers which are linked to an address, Carter said, and that information has not been compromised.

"We have not spread it," she said. "We have not broadcast it. We have not used it illegally. We have not informed anyone of your patterns."

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Sources:, McClatchy Newspapers, WCNC, Google Maps

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