Scanning technology to debut for Highland Park trash collection

  • Starting Monday, a scanning program will replace stickers for Highland Park residents in the volume-based waste collection program.

    Starting Monday, a scanning program will replace stickers for Highland Park residents in the volume-based waste collection program. Courtesy of Lakeshore Recycling Systems

Posted7/30/2016 7:10 AM

Starting Monday, garbage pickup in Highland Park will be more convenient for residents who toss the trash only when they want or need to.

That's because the 3,800 or so households on the volume-based program no longer will have to buy stickers for curbside pickup. Instead, the city will become the first community in Lake County and possibly the state to use Radio Frequency Identification to track regular waste disposal.


Embedded in trash containers provided by Lakeshore Recycling Systems, the city's new hauler as of January, are chips that will be scanned on the truck. They will track the number of times a refuse cart is collected each month and customers will be billed accordingly.

"We thought it would be easier for our residents," said Councilwoman Kim Stone, the city's representative on the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County.

Stickers can be used on items not included in regular disposal, such as trash that doesn't fit in the regular container, yard waste and food scraps. Unused stickers can be taken to city hall for a refund.

There are three waste/recycling collection programs for the 9,200 residential customers in Highland Park: once a week; twice a week; volume-based. All pay a $5 monthly basic fee and varying amounts by program.

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The technology, which is used to track warehouse inventory, for example, is not new but its application for this purpose is not widespread.

"They're the first one in the state as far as I'm aware," said Walter Willis, SWALCO executive director. "It's certainly the first (use) in Lake County."

In negotiations, the agency sought to have radio frequency identification, known as RFID, incorporated with the previous hauler but it couldn't be integrated with the billing system, Willis said.

"Everyone knew Highland Park was interested in the chip. Lakeshore was the one that come on strong with it," he said.

Josh Connell, managing partner for Lakeshore, said RFID is used in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but Highland Park is the first in the Chicago area. All refuse carts in Highland Park contain the chip.

For those who don't "pay as you throw," it allows for service verification, he said. The chip is read only when it goes in the truck.


"It has to get up in the air and into the truck to read it," he said. If the container is "tipped" more than once to be emptied, there is a default setting limiting customers to one charge per day, he added.

"Generally speaking, I think you'll see the trend increase," said Chris Doherty, spokesman for the 800-member National Waste and Recycling Association. "It would be akin to everybody adopting transponders in their cars to pay tolls," he said.

The Wheaton City Council is expected to consider a contract with Lakeshore Monday.


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