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Heritage Complex
2662 Riva Road
Annapolis, MD. 21401
(410) 222-7500



Department of Public Works - DPW News and Announcements - 2013 

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Learn About Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Chips in the 65-Gallon Recycling Cart


All 65-gallon containers provided to residents contains an inactive RFID chip
There are many misleading reports that would have you believe that Anne Arundel County is using the radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip in your 65-gallon recycling cart to obtain all sorts of personal information.  In reality, the RFID chips are inactive and can not function without supporting computer software and associated collection vehicle hardware.  With no current plans or discussions to activate the chips, they have about as much mystical information-retrieving power as the lid, handle or wheels. 
So, what is RFID?  And, if County Recycling officials have no plans to use this technology, why did they have the chips placed inside the new recycling carts?
The questions and answers below should provide information on this technology, why the carts were purchased with the chips installed, and the future possibilities for the use of the RFID chips. 
What is radio-frequency identification?
RFID is a leading automatic identification technology.  RFID tags communicate information by radio wave through antennae on small computer chips attached to objects so that such objects may be identified, located, and tracked. The fundamental architecture of RFID technology involves a tag, a reader (or scanning device), and a database.  A reader scans the tag (or multiple tags simultaneously) and transmits the information on the tag(s) to a database, which stores the information.
Does my recycling container have a RFID chip? 
If you received a 65-gallon cart, it contains an inactive RFID chip inside.  The chips are only capable of data transfer with supporting computer software and related reader equipment for the collection vehicles.  The new carts are the only County-provided recycling containers fitted with RFID chips. 
Will this RFID chip be activated and used in the future? 
As stated above, County Recycling officials have no current plans to use this technology. 
Why would the County have RFID chips installed if there are no plans for their use?
Purchasing the 75 cents per cart installation option at the point of production provides the County a cost effective degree of flexibility if the RFID technology is ever considered at any time in the future.  The carts purchased by the County will last for many years, perhaps decades.  Retroactively fitting the carts would be a logistical challenge and cost much more.
How would County Recycling officials use the RFID chips if they were activated?
Recycling officials have not discussed any possible future uses of the RFID chips and have not endorsed the use of this technology.  Other jurisdictions and private collection companies in areas where local government does not provide trash or recycling collection have used the chips to track participation rates, create incentive/reward programs, track and locate their assets more effectively and verify where and when pickups take place. 
As stated in the letter alerting all customers to cart delivery, all County provided recycling containers are already registered to the receiving address.  However, the use of the cart including when its content is collected, the weight of collected material or any similar information is not recorded in any fashion.
Can I remove the chip if I don’t want it in my cart?
No.  These recycling carts were provided by Waste Management Services and are property of Anne Arundel County.  However, customers are under no obligation to use this cart or any County-provided recycling cart for their curbside collections.  Simply call the Recycling Division at 410-222-7951 and our staff will gladly arrange to pickup or exchange your unwanted cart, container or bin.  Your request will be honored for any reason with no questions asked.  

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