Tracking Tech Drives Dayton, Ohio’s Recycling Incentive Program

RFID tags track city recycling bins and give residents chances for prizes.

by / October 10, 2011
Alien Technology's RFID reader. Photo courtesy of Alien Technology. Photo courtesy of Alien Technology.

Dayton, Ohio, recently launched an incentive-based recycling program for residents that’s made possible by radio frequency identification (RFID) tags affixed onto recycling bins and asset tracking software.

Dayton has utilized RFID and asset tracking technology since April 2010 to identify the locations of the city’s recycling bins, including 96- and 32-gallon containers.

Last month the city launched the recycling incentive program, which awards individuals cash prizes in an effort to increase participation throughout the city, said Fred Stovall, the city’s director of public works. Since the program’s launch, Dayton’s recycling participation has increased by 40 percent, he said.

The city will also save money by diverting more garbage away from the landfill. The city spends nearly $2.6 million a year to pick up and dispose of trash — $38.25 per ton. Dayton currently recycles nearly 500 tons of refuse a month, and is looking to increase that amount to 1,000 tons monthly.

To select winners, the city randomly chooses four bins each month that are tagged with RFID. The RFID tags placed on the recycling bins store the address of the resident using the bin as well as an identification number.

The trucks pick up the recyclable contents on a biweekly basis, giving residents two opportunities a month to be entered into the drawing. So far, four prizes of $100 each have been awarded to winning participants. The prize money is awarded by Rumpke, a waste disposal service, Stovall said.

Each bin’s information is captured by a recycling truck’s RFID reader and is automatically entered into the city’s monthly reward drawing. “The truck’s [RFID reader] will read the RFID, and capture the data and time when the truck picked up that bin’s recycling,” Stovall said.  

The data is transmitted through a special antenna installed on each garbage truck. The RFID hardware and information are integrated into an “asset tracking platform” that helps Dayton officials plan recycling pickup routes, schedules, budgets and usage rates.

The city obtained the RFID technology from Morgan Hill, Calif.-based Alien Technology and obtained the asset tracking application by CDO Technologies, said Neil Mitchell, Alien Technology’s vice president of business development.

GPS technology is used in the recycling truck in combination with the tracking and RFID technology to assist with locating the bins, Mitchell said. While the GPS technology helps to map out areas where RFID tagged bins are located, the RFID tags confirm exact information from a specific bin.

To purchase the technology and 10,000 recycling bins, Dayton spent $500,000 in federal stimulus funds, and hasn’t used any taxpayer dollars toward the technology or the program, Stovall said.

Although more cities are looking into asset tracking to maintain responsibility over government assets, Mitchell said Dayton is one of the first cities to use RFID and asset tracking for an incentive-based recycling program.

Sarah Rich

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. She wrote for for Government Technology magazine from 2010 through 2013.