Q Is it a tag or a chip, which word is correct?

A The complete device is a tag (like a label). The whole thing that gets installed in the bin is a tag. The tiny clever thing inside the tag is the chip. The chip is an integrated circuit or IC in electronic terms.

Q What is inside the tag?

A Aside from the tiny chip (2mm X 2mm), there is also an antenna, or aerial, consisting of a fine copper wire wound around a ferrite rod. The two ends of the wire are soldered to the chip. This electrical circuit is sealed into the tag with resin. There are no “spy” sensors inside the tag.

Q What data is contained in the tag?

A The TagPro tag only contains a unique serial number of 10 characters, example 010BF08A3C, similar to a bar-code label, or similar to a vehicle licence plate. The TagPro tags are pre-programmed with non-duplicating serial numbers in this fixed format and they cannot be re-programmed afterwards. WORM = Write Once, Read Many.

Q Is there any personal information in the tag?

A No, definitely not. Again, it is similar to a vehicle licence plate. By looking at a licence plate you do not get any personal information about the owner of the vehicle. However, if you have access to the municipal database, you can look up which owner is linked to a particular licence, or tag, number. There are other, much more expensive, tags on the market that have programmable chips inside, but TagPro is not using them.

Q Why use a system with a secret hidden number?

A A visible barcode based system would also do the job in a perfect world. However, the waste bins are exposed to handling damage, graffiti and aggressive liquids that will only give a short barcode life. Truck mounted barcode readers have been tested with also a rather short life. The only reliable automatic scanning system under these conditions has been found to be RFID = Radio Frequency IDentification and this has been used worldwide for at least 20 years.

Q Why bother to install a tag in every waste bin?

A Bins are expensive assets to a municipality or waste removal contractor. Being used in public places, they are prone to theft. Typically, small business owners aquire additional bins and then induce the truck crews to service these stolen (or purchased) bins at no cost to themselves. With tags in place, and trucks reading their ID numbers at each empty, it is very easily detected where a bin has been moved to, and if that new address is paying for all the service it is receiving. A stolen bin is actually a stolen service . . . . . a pathway to a free service.

Q What are the costs of installing tags?

A The tag itself is a smaller part of the total cost. The labour needed to find the bins, install the tags and then link an owner to each tag number is the larger part of the cost. The total cost can range around R30 to R50 per bin. (Consider that a bin costs about R400, and each time the bin is emptied somebody has to pay about R25).