Scottish council to trial waste weighing technology

North Lanarkshire council is to become the “first Scottish local authority” to use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to weigh residents’ waste.

North Lanarkshire residents recycled just more than 40% of their household waste in 2019 (picture: Zero Waste Scotland)

The year-long pilot, to be rolled out from early September, will involve 5,000 households in North Lanarkshire.

RFID tags will be installed within household waste and recycling bins, “without any impact on local collection procedures or timescales”.

The tags will capture the weight of each individual bin, which the council says will help it to understand levels of recycling participation against residual waste disposal.

It is hoped that the information the tags gather will help identify areas for improvements and efficiencies to waste services, enhance planning for collection routes, and reduce vehicle travel times and emissions.

North Lanarkshire council’s convener of environment and transportation committee, Michael McPake, said: “It’s important that we can monitor existing levels of recycling so we can determine how to engage with local residents and make improvements to services.

“The use of RFID technology enables us to achieve this aim and will support our ambition of increasing household recycling activity across North Lanarkshire.

“We look forward to working closely with households involved in the initial trial which – if successful – has the potential of being rolled out across the wider local authority area, and to other parts of Scotland.”

Household waste levels

The programme is funded by the Scottish circular economy agency Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), which has contributed around £48,000.

Iain Gulland is chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland

This enabled the council to purchase and install on-board weighing kits for two refuse collection vehicles, and to buy RFID chips for all the containers at the 5,000 households. The funds cover the costs of installing the chips, supplying the communications materials and employing a project manager to oversee the trial.

ZWS’s CEO, Iain Gulland, said: “As the first local authority in Scotland to take part in this pilot programme, North Lanarkshire is leading the way in embracing technology to enhance its green credentials and tackle climate change.

“RFID technology is ideal in helping councils gauge household waste levels. This project involves collecting data relating to the weight and make-up of collected waste and will have no impact on bin collection services.

“The primary focus is to gather data to determine which campaigns and interventions work best to reduce residual waste and increase the volume and efficiency of local recycling.

“RFID technology offers an innovative approach in collecting data to support this objective which will ultimately help North Lanarkshire achieve its net zero carbon targets.”

North Lanarkshire

The most recent figures published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in 2019 show North Lanarkshire residents recycled just more than 40% of their household waste.

The local authority, which carries out collections in-house, hopes to raise that figure to 70% by 2025.

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