Using RFID Waste Collection Data to Find & Target Poor Multi-Residential Performers

Using RFID Waste Collection Data to Find & Target Poor Multi-Residential Performers

Peel’s Regional Council issued a resolution to achieve a diversion target of 75% by 2034. Recognizing Multi-residential (MR) sector recycling rates lag considerably behind curbside rates, Region staff set out to understand the potential and the cost of capturing additional blue box tonnes from residents living in MR homes.

What’s involved with installing RFID technology and on-board Scales?

Knowing that accurate baseline data is needed to properly assess MR diversion opportunities, the Region integrated RFID technology with on-board weigh scales for its entire MR collection program.

Collection Vehicles

Peel staff negotiated contracts with collection operators to have the MR fleet outfitted with on-board scales. The Region was financially and logistically responsible for installing all RFID aspects of the waste data tracking system, both hardware and software including: RFID antennas, on-board modems, computer screens, cameras, cords, etc. Average RFID costs/ truck ran from ~$8,000 to $10,000 depending on whether it was a front or rear-loading vehicle.

Waste & Recycling Collection Bins

Each waste container was tagged with a unique identification number that was logged into a central database.

Peel Region employed 10 temporary staff to visit each of its 720 MR sites, tagging 5,000 front end loading (FEL) Bins and 6,900 carts. Staff spent an estimated 30 to 60 minutes at each building tagging the bins (depending on size of building and number of bins).

Data Collection

During site visits building details such as where the bins were located (inside or outside) and whether the building used a chute system were logged into the system.

This augmented details already populated in the database including demographic information (e.g., seniors), and whether MR units were owned or rented.

Lessons Peel Region learned along the way 

Vehicles

  • Front and and rear loading vehicles are most appropriate for this system
  • Top-loading cart collection trucks were outfitted with body mounted scales but equipment acceptance testing showed their accuracy was insufficient; RFID readers could not automatically identify and track individual cart weights
  • The Region was unable to source on board scale systems for side loading vehicles

Additional Budget Needs

  • While the system tracks weights of recycling diverted from buildings, waste audits and site inspections are also needed to verify performance. The RFID/on-board scale system does not account for contamination
  • Peel budgets roughly $2,400/building for four-season audits and regularly audits 25 buildings to determine if high diversion rate readings from RFID/on-board scale systems reflect proper set out practices
  • Peel outreach staff perform visual inspections; one staff can visit eight sites/day requiring ~40 minutes/site 

Prepare for delays!

  • Collection contractor negotiations re: installation of scales and software onto the contractor’s collection vehicles can cause hold-ups as it can be tricky to negotiate how to add an outside vendor’s products to the trucks (e.g., scales and RFID technology)
  • The internal protocol development process (i.e., IT department requirement for governance protocols for information collection and utilization) can be lengthy and require multiple approvals

Baseline Metrics Established & Trends Observed

Analysis of RFID data over nine months showed:

Average diversion rate*19%
Average recycling generation rate1.91 kg/unit/week
Condominiums (owned units) appear to be performing better than rentals and other types of properties
Average garbage generation rate10.53 kg/unit/week
Average volume of uncompacted garbage0.15 yd3/unit/week

*Estimates include contamination

Opportunities for Improved MR Performance?

Peel Region has engaged in two strategies for improvement, both a short-term approach (underway now) and a longer-term research initiative.

Short-Term: Voluntary compliance

Peel’s system can generate “Report Cards” showing generation and diversion rates. Staff hope this will encourage property owners and managers to actively work with the Region to improve diversion. 

Long-Term: Mandatory compliance

Region staff members are undertaking a feasibility analysis to assess the option of turning waste collection into a utility-based system, considering adopting a volume based user fee for garbage to improve the performance of Peel’s resource recovery programs.

. Data collected will provide the tracking mechanism necessary to implement such a system.

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