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Garbage collection goes high tech

This week, crews began installing radio frequency identification tags on all household garbage carts, an operation that will continue until July 15. City of Prince George photo

The City of Prince George is using modern technology to improve the way it collects garbage from, and keeps track of, each of the more than 23,000 residential garbage carts currently in use throughout the city.

This week, crews began installing radio frequency identification tags on all household garbage carts, an operation that will continue until July 15. These tags will help the city to improve customer service by tracking broken, overflowing, or missing carts.

The tags use radio frequency technology to keep track of objects. These tags are often used on airline luggage, tickets, or retail store items. Once installed, the garbage cart tags will not change how residents use their carts or alter the way the carts are put out on collection days.

The tags are being installed by a company named Lateral Innovation, their workers are fully identified by wearing hats and vests with the company name and they can provide a homeowner with a flyer when they are coming to install the tag if required.

Tag benefits include:

  • Helping increase collection route efficiency by helping staff to pre-plan through routes more effectively.
  • Improving route efficiencies, which reduces operational costs as well as the city’s carbon footprint by lessening fuel consumption.
  • Making sure no garbage cart is missed on collection day as missed carts will send a signal to staff indicating they were not collected as scheduled.
  • Helping keep recyclables out of landfills by working with the existing camera system aboard each garbage collection vehicle to pinpoint households that are disposing of improper products.

Information collected through tags will be stored on a secure server by the city. Any garbage cart photos that include captured personal info like people or vehicles will also be blurred to protect privacy.

Implementing the system costs about $10 per cart, ($230,000) while the replacement value of each city-owned cart is approximately $65 for a mid-sized cart. Project funding comes from the city’s capital expenditure plan.