Obama’s Stimulus Put Microchips in Your Trash

A new Senate report reveals the Obama administration spent nearly half-a-million dollars in stimulus funds to purchase recycling bins implanted with microchips, designed to monitor private citizens’ recycling levels.

Republican Senators Tom Coburn, R-OK, and John McCain, R-AZ, tracked 100 misuses of stimulus funds in a publication entitled “Summertime Blues,” released just weeks ago. (It is far from a comprehensive list.)

They found the administration gave $500,000 to the city of Dayton, Ohio, to assist its recycling plan. Part of the federal funds went to purchase 8,000 bins equipped with microchips that track which residents are recycling.

City and county government officials decided the Big Brother program was so worthwhile they spent a combined $60,000 of their own money to buy an additional 1,300 bins.

In February, the Dayton Daily News described the new curbside equipment:

The microchips, which use radio frequency identification technology, are installed in the bin handles. Four city waste collection trucks will be equipped to read the microchips that will be associated with specific street addresses.

All the city’s 60,000 households will be added to the program “over several years at a total cost of $1.6 million.” The full cost will be borne by the U.S. taxpayer thanks to a $1.6 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant the federal government awarded Dayton from stimulus funds.

WHIO-TV asked city officials about the program’s inclusion in Coburn’s report. They “said only $9,000 went to the microchips and the program is actually helping to redirect bins to neighborhoods that use them the most.”

The city of Charlotte, North Carolina, began using microchip-implanted recycling bins last month. The city will store each family’s recycling history for three years. (Local talk show host Tara Servatius had the story first.)

Again, city bureaucrats dismissed privacy concerns to local media:

The city says it doesn’t plan to knock on people’s doors who aren’t recycling. Instead it says the chip will be used to monitor which neighborhoods are recycling less than others.

Neighborhoods that aren’t recycling much would then be given encouragement to recycle more. The city says this would be done either through mailings or appearances by the recycling department at community events. (Emphasis added.)

Americans are not the only ones concerned about government-tracked refuse — and what “encouragement to recycle” may entail.

At least 2.6 million homes in Great Britain — approximately 10 percent of all British households — have microchipped recycling bins. Members of the Conservative Party have protested that information obtained by the chips may be used to levy additional taxes based on the weight of weekly recycling, a plan they dubbed “Pay As You Throw.”

Gordon Brown’s Labour Party dismissed the charges as scare tactics. But many areas in England already demand trash be sorted into nine different color-coded classifications. Offenders face a maximum fine of more than $1,500 (U.S.).

Laying aside legitimate anxieties about government intrusion, Sen. Coburn found little “stimulus” from this expenditure.

The $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was supposed to stabilize the national unemployment rate, but unemployment remains mired at 9.5 percent, and first-time jobless claims reached their highest level in nine months this week.