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Alexandria Considers Using Computers To Track Recycling Bins

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The city of Alexandria is considering using recycling bins with implanted computer chips to record the bins' location and use.
Michael Pope
The city of Alexandria is considering using recycling bins with implanted computer chips to record the bins' location and use.

By Michael Pope

Tracking people's behavior is nothing new. Local governments have been doing it for years with pencil and paper, recording which addresses use recycling bins and which ones don't. These days, recycling bins come standard with computer chips that track where they belong and how often they're used.

"I'd like to say this is something cutting edge, it's not," says Rich Baier, director of transportation in Alexandria. "It's technology that's been around for fifty years."

Arlington has been using them for the last year, and they're also in use in Montgomery County and parts of Fairfax County. But not in Alexandria, at least, not yet.

And Councilman Frank Fannon says he's hearing from people who would like to keep it that way.

"I think if we just order them without the chips it's going to cause less controversy and we're still going to achieve our recycling goal," says Fannon.

Opponents say they don't want Big Brother looking over their shoulder. But transportation officials say the microchips just make it easier to collect the information they're already collecting on paper. City Council is set to take up the issue next month.

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