Campaigners warn of increase in wheelie bin microchips

With CCTV cameras seemingly on every corner, we Brits are well used to being watched. But there's a new spy in town – and it's hiding in your wheelie bin. Since rumours of a "pay as you throw" tax for those who aren't pulling their recycling weight broke, councils have been stocking up on microchips for wheelie bins.

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A survey by campaign group Big Brother Watch revealed that 68 UK authorities now had the wheelie bin microchips at their disposal where the previous year, only 42 were chipping bins. The councils, however, insist that it's all about reward, not punishment.

Bristol city council has already set up a voluntary scheme whereby residents are rewarded according to their refuse reduction, while Windsor and Maidenhead council is giving out shopping vouchers to those who increase the amount they recycle.

Rumours of the introduction of a 'bin tax', however, just won't go away. Alex Deane, from Big Brother Watch, told the BBC: "If local authorities have no intention to monitor our waste then they should end the surreptitious installation of these bin microchips."

And shadow local government secretary Caroline Spelman, was quick to jump on the bandwagon, saying a bin tax would only encourage "fly-tipping and backyard burning", thereby harming the environment it is supposed to protect.

But a spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs said: "Microchips do not monitor what goes into the bin and this is not about 'spying' on people or fining them. Britain cannot keep on sending waste to landfill, and it is important that councils work with communities to reduce waste, reuse it where possible, and recycle more."

Would you 'opt in' to a recycling reward scheme, or are wheelie bin microchips just a precursor to "pay as you throw" fines?