Electronic spy 'bugs' have been secretly planted in hundreds of thousands of household wheelie bins.
The gadgets - mostly installed by companies based in Germany - transmit information about the contents of the bins to a central database which then keeps records on the waste disposal habits of each individual address.
Already some 500,000 bins in council districts across England have been fitted with the bugs - with nearly all areas expected to follow suit within the next couple of years.
The official reason for the bugs is to 'improve efficiency' and settle disputes between neighbours over wheelie-bin ownership. But experts say the technology is actually intended to enable councils to impose fines on householders who exceed limits on the amount of non-recyclable waste they put out. New powers for councils to do this are expected to be introduced by the Government shortly.
Although I don't think its a bad idea for tracking down bins for when they get lost or confused by neighbours, I do think its wrong that people with these wheelie bins were not made aware of them.
I also think its wrong that they're planning to use these to help charge householders extra money, on top of what they've already paid for waste removal, to remove waste when its over the recommended weight limit - supposedly because this means not enough recycling has been done to reduce the weight limit.
The other problem with this is the extra its is costing to fit the bins with these bugs and weighing equipment on the lorries
Although the chip itself is worth only about £2, fitting the equipment to a dustcart costs around £15,000.
With these extra costs, councils are going to be even more determined to charge the householders extra to recover the costs. One way or another the public will pay for a system that helps councils fine them.