Award-winning Pay-As-You-Throw, RFID-based program provides disincentive for waste production
This past summer, Cascade Engineering announced that its partnership between its subsidiary Cascade Cart Solutions and the City of Grand Rapids to implement an innovative refuse and recycling collection system has received a “Green Award” presented by RFID Journal.
The honour highlighted Grand Rapids’ fundamental transformation of its solid waste management system with the goal of improving environmental performance by transitioning to a volume-based “Pay-As-You-Throw” program and increasing recycling participation rates. Under this new approach, residents are charged only when their refuse cart is placed at the curb and emptied, with charges based on cart size, and recycling is collected free of charge.
According to Cascade, in addition to decreasing the amount of waste disposed – and increasing recycling participation – the new program is significantly improving operational efficiencies through more efficient daily operations that include a paperless collection system, real-time route management, reduced fuel consumption and lowered greenhouse gas emissions.
“The City of Grand Rapids is honoured to receive this important recognition of our ongoing commitment to best practices that improve municipal services and our residents’ overall quality of life,” said James Hurt, Director of the City’s Public Services Department. “Having the opportunity to tap this kind of environmental, engineering and manufacturing leadership here in West Michigan – through our partnership with Cascade – has been a key element in our ability to successfully deploy this pioneering, RFID-enabled system.”
“The Grand Rapids Pay-As-You-Throw refuse program is unlike any other currently being utilized in the United States,” said Mark Harvey, Director of Technology and Asset Management at Cascade Cart Solutions. “It has the capacity to revolutionize the waste and recycling industry as it provides an effective and proven disincentive for waste production. This program has not only provided important environmental benefits, but social and financial benefits as well, and is demonstrating that it has the core components of a truly replicable, sustainable community program.”
The City’s Pay-As-You-Throw program is based on an innovative, end-to-end application of RFID-based technology implemented by Cascade Cart Solutions, utilizing Xtreme RFID, consisting of rugged, high-performance RFID tags attached to Cascade Cart Solutions’ specially designed “SmartCarts”.
The system features a combination of handheld PDAs and readers, as well as a specialty Capturit truck systems developed in collaboration with AMCS. These fully automated onboard systems feature a custom configuration that allows for unassisted lifting of carts, while carts with a negative account balance – or carts not assigned to a customer – are placed on a list and are not emptied. For this application, back office software was customized to provide secure integration with the City of Grand Rapids’ billing system and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) capability.
“In addition to providing a positive, measurable environmental impact, the program is achieving a number of other key benefits,” added Hurt. “RFID-enabled Pay-As-You-Throw promotes equity and fairness as residents pay only for service they receive. Worker safety is increased as collection has been fully automated. Importantly, the entire system enables customer self-management, allowing residents to prepay their refuse bill online, over the phone, or in person, while offering greater cost control through the ability to select cart size, recycle more and present their refuse cart less often.”