Chip & Bin

Recently we have had some high winds here in Leeds and it has caused many bins that were left out on the street after collection to be knocked over onto their sides. In some cases they have been pushed along the street during particularly strong gusts, impacting with passing cars!

The point of this article though is to comment on what I saw when I happened upon a bin that had been knocked over when I was returning home from the shops one morning. As I glanced at it I noticed that against the green background of the bin there was a solid, circular, black disc under the lip of the bin, completely unnoticeable unless the bin was on its side as in this case. The paranoid cynic in me thought “Good Lord, thats an RFID chip that is! The bastards are tracking what we throw away!”. I dismissed the notion as absurd but when I got home I couldn’t resist the temptation to do a little googling. To be frank I was shocked with what I found.

Turns out I wasn’t paranoid at all, they really *are* planning on tracking what we throw away, how much and how often and storing it all in a central database! The installation of a chip is an indication that they are either doing it already or planning on doing it in the near future. I also inspected my own bins and found chips to be present on both of them.

I have collected some links on the issue and have made some brief comments on them. It turns out that this been around for some time but unlike many things of this nature this one seems to have slipped under my radar.

  • “Bin Bug” – The basics from Wikipedia
  • “Is your bin bugged?” – A quick blog post from someone who felt compelled to check their bin for a bug and after not finding one, found some pictures off the internet showing what the bug looked like, where it was situated and what it looked like after a removal.
  • Removing the bin bug – A quick how-to for removing the bug.
  • “Another day, another bin bug” – A writer removes another bug after a replacement bin was delivered to replace one he had previously removed a bug from.
  • The Great Bin Bug Revolt – A councilor who helps the neighborhood by driving round removing bin bugs

Does your bin have a chip? Did you know your waste disposal habits were being tracked? How do you feel about this? If you have any comments on this article or the links I’ve provided on this matter then please leave your comments below – I’d be very interested to read them.


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  1. Matt Said,

    February 2, 2008 @ 10:54 pm

    While these reports and articles (and my own eyes) do confirm that RFID tagging of bins is going on in Leeds and other council districts, nothing clearly confirms their intended use or purpose.

    I find it quite worrying that in the case of Leeds it seems to be a covert operation, although this may simply be because the tags are not currently in use, merely being installed in preparation.

    The prospects of tariffs and fines for households producing excessive waste, the so called “pay as you throw” policy I find particularly disgusting. Our ability as consumers to correctly recycle and reduce waste relies directly on producers of goods to a) reduce packaging and b) clearly mark all plastics/cardboards/metals with the recycling type. Thankfully the idea has met similar criticism in parliamentary discussion(1) and so I think is unlikely to become law any time soon. Though their are pilot schemes which may influence a decision to implement such a policy.

    Removing the RFID tags is one way to attempt to ensure failure for these pilot schemes. It does not appear to be a crime… yet, but it has been suggested that this could result in non-collection of rubbish. However this type of action can be dismissed as petty civil disobedience, or may go unnoted at the decision making level in anycase.

    Another aproach is for anyone concerned about this issue to lobby their MP and councillors. Obtain their contact details (2),(3) and write to them citing any or all of the key issues such as invasion of privicy, resposability of producers, unfair taxes, encouraging fly tipping etc.

    If their constituents make enough of a fuss, particularly in organised groups, MPs and councillors will find it hard to ignore and at very least consider it political suicide to endorse such schemes and thus vote against them.

    1: Hansard Texts, Earl Cathcart, Col 439, paragraph 4 –

    2:, find your MP

    3: Leeds City Council, Find Councillors

  2. Liz Said,

    February 3, 2008 @ 10:47 pm

    You know, I didnt know this.
    Im gonna go have a look tomow morn when its light.. Im getting scared about what people are tracking these days. Today I discovered that police/local authorities/councils bug 1000 phone calls a day .. I think its getting a bit silly ..

  3. Kieran Said,

    February 3, 2008 @ 10:51 pm

    So many things set a worrying precedent and this is one of them.

    If you are concerned about phone tapping though just use Skype; all your conversations are encrypted. Other VoIP services also offer encryption too.

  4. Liz Said,

    February 4, 2008 @ 12:11 am

    I never read if it was landlines or mobiles or both? I dont use the landline for personal calls so Im not overly bothered ..
    But the main point is .. why should people be listening to what Im saying anyway?
    Isnt that a breach of privacy? :-\

  5. Chris Worfolk Said,

    February 4, 2008 @ 11:31 am

    Makes you wonder where else such devices may have found themselves.

  6. Andrew Said,

    June 2, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

    The best way to kill the chip by stealth so the council cannot prove you are responsibe is to place a several neodymium magnets on top of the chip for a while. Neo mags are so strong the chip will not work after.
    You can buy these magnets of ebay sellers.

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