Technology meets Trash: The Use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Devices in Waste Management

Although it may come as a surprise to many people, even the trash bin engineering can be innovative; local governments and waste management companies are employing new and advanced technologies to aid them in management of waste. One of the recent technologies is the radio frequency identification (RFID) devices that are currently employed to link trash bins and recycling cans to owners, encourage recycling practices, and cut operational costs.

How it works

An RFID tag works by transmitting identification numbers as radio signals. This means that unlike barcodes, there is no need to scan the RFID tag. Instead small readers—small radios equipped with antennas to constantly emit signals—are placed on waste trucks to automatically read and detect the tags. Whenever any RFID tag comes within range, the signal of the reader supplies the tag with some bit of power to activate it. The activated tag then transmits its data, which is subsequently read and recorded by the reader.

The data contained in the RFID are small unique numbers that identify the bin to which it’s attached. It may also store name, phone number, and home address of the waste bin’s owner as well as other relevant information. The reader then sends the information on the tag to the database of waste management company where software applications put the data into use.


Generally, the goal of this versatile technology is to cut collection costs, reduce worker’s compensation claims, and create a ROI in waste management and recycling initiatives. By analyzing the data in the RFID tags, the waste management company will be in a position to minor a wide range of data such as the time it takes for a truck driver to move from one house to another, helping them to keep their productivity up.

More importantly, the data can be used to monitor how different households handle their wastes. Such data can be used to direct educational efforts to households that are lagging behind on recycling. These educational efforts will include distribution of electronic and printed literature, advice on the use of eco-friendly waste handling equipment (such as solar-powered trash compactor and other waste compaction equipment), mentions at community meetings, and personal visits by waste management inspectors. What’s more, the technology can be used to lower the number of employees required to operate the trucks and to identify customers who haven’t paid for waste collection services.


With time, even more application of RFID technology will be developed. Simply put, the current implementation of the technology by municipals and waste management companies represents the cusp of a new segment of technological exploration and espousal by the waste management industry. There is more information to be found at the Rotoble Compaction website.

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