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London waste's journey to be tracked

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is to trial its new Trash Track technology in London.

Working in conjunction with New Scientist magazine, the Institute will be attaching special electronic tags to parts of the citys rubbish in an attempt to find out exactly where peoples household rubbish goes.

The major project is also being trialled in New York and Seattle.

Head of the MIT SENSEable City lab Professor Carlo Ratti said: Our project aims to reveal the disposal process of our everyday objects, as well as to highlight potential
inefficiencies in todays recycling and sanitation systems.

Editor of New Scientist magazine Roger Highfield said: Its all too easy to throw something in the garbage and wash your hands of it if you dont know what effect you are directly having on the environment.

The project will enlist volunteers who want their rubbish to be electronically tagged with special wireless location markers called trash tags. These tags will then calculate the location of the waste and send the information back to a central server where the data will be analysed and processed and can be plotted on a map. In the US the public will be able to view the journey of the waste online.

MIT SENSEable City lab associate director Assaf Biderman said: The study of what we could call the removal chain is becoming as important as that of the supply chain. Trash Track aims to make the removal chain more transparent. We hope that the project will promote behavioural change and encourage people to make more sustainable decisions about what they consume and how it affects the world around them.

The team at MIT wants to combine hi-tech technology with everyday human activity, such as chucking out the rubbish. The trash track follows similar monitoring projects the team have undertaken such as in Rome where they recorded mobile phone signals and other wireless technology to map how modern cities function.

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