Mar 26, 2010

Big Brother Tracks Trash

It could happen here. In England, More than 2.5million homes now have wheelie bins fitted with microchips to weigh their contents. This is an increase of nearly two-thirds in just a year. The bins, which can be electronically identified and weighed, are designed for 'pay-as-you-throw' rubbish tax schemes. Families that put out more waste will pay higher taxes to their local council.

The spread of chipped bins marks the revival of a tax idea that the Government appeared to have abandoned last year, but the latest check showed 20% of all those that collect household rubbish. According to the responses from town halls, 2,629,052 homes have now been given bins with chips.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: 'There are no Government plans to introduce microchips in bins. Any use of microchips is a local authority decision - some councils use them to monitor levels of waste. This is not about spying on people or fining them.'

However, in 2008 nearly 100 councils ran investigations into the contents of their residents' bins, in some cases to check on what rubbish they dump and in others to try to obtain information on their incomes and lifestyles. Sounds like taxing is coming to both ends of the consumption cycle.