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RFID Tags in Curbside Collection Bins

Click on the photo to see sample RFID tags.

RFID Tags in Curbside Collection Bins

In June 2019, curbside collection crews will begin installing RFID (radio frequency identification) tags onto curbside collection bins. This system is common across Canada (including Calgary, Okotoks, High River, Prince George and Nanaimo) and America, and is intended to help track bins, identify opportunities to improve collection routes and activities, and enhance safety.

There is also an opportunity to reduce costs of curbside collection by creating operational efficiencies: using less fuel and reducing wear and tear on vehicles. This translates into cost savings in the long term, which means tax dollars can be used for other programs and services that residents rely on.

What are RFID tags?

RFID means radio frequency identification, which is a type of tracking system that uses smart barcodes to identify curbside collection bins. Each tag includes an antenna and microchip on a printed circuit. 

Once installed and programmed, curbside collection crews will be able to use a web-based system to track the bins. Eventually all of our waste collection trucks will be equipped with this system and will be able to communicate with your bins.

RFID tags are intended to track which bin has been set out for collection and how often. They are NOT intended for tracking your recycling habits (e.g., proper recycling), or weighing your waste to increase collection charges.

What do the RFID tags look like?

The tags are simply a white paper strip that will be applied to your bin. They are approximately 10 cm long and 1.5 cm wide. Inside each strip is a printed circuit with a chip and antenna system.

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Privacy concerns?

We recognize that some residents may have privacy concerns about having RFID tags on their curbside collection bins. While each collection bin is attached/associated to each given address, Municipal account or personal contact information is NOT linked to the curbside collection system.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is subject to Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act. We follow this Act closely and take the legislation very seriously. Periodically we do collect information from residents for various programs, but we have a duty to adhere to the FOIP Act.

Benefits to You

Residents often want to know when their garbage and recycling will be picked up – or why it hasn’t been picked up. Sometimes routes are not completed the same time every week due to weather or mechanical issues. Bins also sometimes get lost or stolen. The RFID program will help us answer questions more specifically and provide better customer service to you.

There are a number of considerations that will help curbside collection run more smoothly, including bin placement and timing of when bins are placed to the curb. We will even be able to help if you have been putting the incorrect bin out for collection (for example, dark blue bin put out for recycling when it should have been light blue). This tracking system will also help us locate lost or stolen bins and return them to your home. 

The new RFID system will also provide opportunities for cost savings like reduced fuel usage, less time spent on operations, and decreased wear and tear on vehicles. This means that saved tax dollars can be used in other areas for the services and programs that you rely on.

What to Expect

Beginning in June 2019, as curbside collection crews empty your bins, a secondary crew will follow them to install and program the tags. As your bins will already be out at the curb, all you need to do is follow your regular routine.

Please keep bin placement and timing guidelines in mind: put your bins to the curb by 7:30 a.m. on your collection day. Learn more about bin placement at rmwb.ca/garbage

Should we need to enter onto your property to install and program your tag, a crew member will notify you to get permission and ensure you are aware of their presence.

These tags will be applied to all bins that are part of the municipal curbside collection program. Once tags are installed and programmed, this system will be aligned with the web-based software and internal processes and procedures.

When will the new system begin?

This is a big project, so it will be phased in over the next two years as we install tags, implement the web-based system, train staff, develop new procedures, and acquire collection vehicles with the RFID technology.

Some of our newer municipal collection trucks already have RFID capability, but not all of our collection trucks currently have the RFID system yet. Existing vehicles not scheduled for replacement in 2019 will be retrofitted with the system in 2020.

The program will be phased in as collection bins and trucks are brought online so they can communicate with one another. We anticipate the program will be fully operational within approximately two years.


Q: What does RFID mean?   

 A: RFID means radio frequency identification, and the tags work by transmitting and receiving information via an antenna and microchip system, much like a mini radio.

Curbside collection vehicles will be equipped with a web-based software so they can communicate with the bins, saving time and money, and enhancing service.

Q: Do I have to pay for this service?

A: There is NO additional cost to users for this program. You will NOT be charged extra on your utility bill. Costs for this program come from the regular annual (operating/capital) budgeting process, including the RFID tags, collection bins, the web-based system, and collection vehicles. 

Q: Why do you want to track our bins?

A: The Municipality has a number strategic priorities and values as defined by Mayor and Council. These priorities and values guide decision making and long-term planning, so we can support the vision of a vibrant, sustainable region we are proud to call home. This program is intended to support strategic priorities including responsible government, accountability, fiscal responsibility, customer service, integrity and working together.

The Municipality is always looking for opportunities to cut costs, spend wisely and make informed decisions. The RFID tag program aligns with these strategies and supports the Municipality’s mission of delivering excellence – every day.

Q: Will I be fined if my curbside collection isn’t sorted properly or placed at the curb correctly?

A: Our priority is to provide reliable, efficient curbside collection services to residents. Education is our focus, so all residents have a clear understanding of the system and an awareness of their responsibilities.  

The Municipality does NOT intend to fine residents for improper sorting or bin placement.

Please keep in mind that crews may NOT be able to collect bins if they are not properly placed, or if waste is not securely contained in the bins. In addition, there is a Solid Waste Bylaw, and residents going against this bylaw could be fined or charged clean-up costs. More specific information is available here: Solid Waste Bylaw No. 07/043.

Q: What happens if my tag is removed?

A: Please do not peel off or adjust the tags, as they could become damaged and not function properly. Should you notice an issue with your tag, please contact Pulse at 780-743-7000, or 1-800-973-9663 (toll free), or online at rmwb.ca/pulse

Should you remove your tag intentionally, the RFID software will see this error and create an alert on the web-based system. You could be charged for replacement of the tags if they are tampered with.

For any questions about the tags, contact Pulse at 780-743-7000, or 1-800-973-9663 (toll free), or online at rmwb.ca/pulse

Q: How do I get a replacement tag?

A: Please contact Pulse at 780-743-7000, or 1-800-973-9663 (toll free), or online at rmwb.ca/pulse

Q: Do I own my curbside collection bin? Or does it belong to the Municipality?

A: Your bins are associated with your residence and technically belong to the Municipality. All bins must stay at your residence should you move to a new location in the region or if you leave the region to live elsewhere.

Q: How does RFID tag installation impact me?

A: There should be minimal impact to most users. Crews intend to install tags during their regular collection process, so bins should already be out to the curb for easy installation.

We don’t anticipate we’ll need to enter your property to install tags. Should we need to enter your property, a crew member will approach you for permission first.

Q: What areas are included in this program?

A: The following communities are included in the program as they fall under the existing curbside collection program: Anzac, Draper, Fort McMurray, Gregoire Lake Estates and Saprae Creek.

Q: I live in a condo. I own a business. Does this program impact me too?

A: If you rely on a private service provider for your waste collection, this program does not impact you. The RFID system will only be implemented for the municipal curbside collection program, and does not include businesses, condos, or industry.

If you are unsure if this impacts you, contact Pulse for more specific details at 780-743-7000, or 1-800-973-9663 (toll free), or online at rmwb.ca/pulse.

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