Microchips fitted to new recycling bins issued across Aylesbury Vale without the public’s knowledge do not have ‘mystical powers’ but could be used to introduce recycling rewards, the council has said.
Each of the new large blue-lidded recycling bins Aylesbury Vale District Council has provided contains an ID tag, which the council says are an electronic reference number identifying each bin.
Many have expressed outrage online at the chips being ‘secretly’ installed and some have reportedly taken to removing the tags from their bins.
But the man in charge of the new scheme, Councillor Sir Beville Stanier, denied the tags were ‘bugging or tracking devices’.
Sir Beville, council cabinet member for environment and health,said: “There are many misleading reports that seem to lead people to believe that the tags have mystical powers when, in reality, they really are no different to the identification chips people put in their cat or dog, or if the council had simply painted an identification number onto the side of the bin.”
However, he said the devices, which are not currently activated, could allow recycling reward initiatives to be introduced.
For this to happen, the council would seek Government funding to buy £2,000 receiver devices for each of the 17 vehicles that collect the bins. When the bin empties onto the lorry, a weighing device works out how much recycling has been produced, and then this and the electronic bin reference number could be transmitted to the council to see who to reward.
A council spokesman said the decision to buy bins with the devices fitted is not one that would normally undergo public scrutiny, but any decision to switch them on would be publicly debated.
Across the Vale, 68,000 homes are expected to receive the new £19 bins, at a total cost of just under £1.3 million, with smaller food waste bins also issued, but council says the new system will save taxpayers £500,000 a year.
Sir Beville said installing chips provides the council with ‘flexibility to introduce new recycling reward initiatives in the future’.
He used the example of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, where tags are used to help monitor the amount of recycling put out for collection. The keenest recycling households are rewarded with vouchers for high-street retailers.
Sir Beville said if the council decided to offer such a scheme and the bins did not contains the tags, fitting them would be ‘logistically challenging’ and cost more.
“Purchasing them fitted at the point of manufacture, therefore, is more cost effective in the long run,” he said.
“If the tags were ever used, and currently they are not, the tag itself would not be able to monitor the type or weight of rubbish being thrown away.
“All it would do is allow a vehicle fitted with a receiver device to identify which bin is being emptied into the vehicle at that time.”