Chip-and-bin fails in Norfolk

July 23, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Much has been made in the press of the chip-and-bin plans, whereby householders pay according to how much waste they produce. However, the failure of a trial in Norfolk, which started in 2002, could be bad news for the Government.

Computer problems, the irritation of local residents over the Big Brother type surveillance and a two-and-a-half fold increase in fly-tipping have brought the trial to a halt.

52,000 homes in the South Norfolk District Council area took part at a cost of over £1 million pounds, £25,000 of which was spent on fitting the necessary equipment to 12 dust carts. The microchips fitted to the bins (and used successfully in Europe for over a decade) were supposed to send data on the weight of refuse and the address of the household to a computer on the dust cart. In order to ensure accuracy, each bin was weighed six times on the way up and a further six times on the way down. However, problems with the electrics, hydraulics, mechanics and computer rendered the scheme unworkable.

District Council leader, John Fuller, has said that in order for the scheme to succeed, the technology has to work “in every bin, in every street on every day of the year”. Three other areas piloting the scheme have also had “significant difficulties”.

Despite the problems experienced already, the government is still seeking other councils to take part in trials next year. South Norfolk’s trial was not an official pilot but was paid for by government grants for recycling, which could be spent in whatever way the council wished. The legislation for official pilot schemes has not yet been passed.

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