Know What You T.H.R.O.W™: Grand Rapids, Michigan

City of Grand Rapids Michigan - Prepaid Pay-As-You-Throw Program

Congratulations to the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan for their recent win of the 2013 RFID Green Award for implementing Cascade's revolutionary, prepaid Know What You T.H.R.O.W™ program!


The City of Grand Rapids, located in West Michigan, wanted to transform its solid waste management system and associated fees to an innovative, fully integrated, cart based system which would utilize an incentive, volume-based pricing model to reduce costs and increase waste diversion. The transformation was to include a transition from a bag-and-tag refuse system with manual collection to fully automated collection services.


Cascade Cart Solutions worked in collaboration with the City of Grand Rapids to develop a revolutionary pay-for-service program, Know What You T.H.R.O.W, utilizing refuse and recycling carts equipped with RFID Xtreme Tags® and collection vehicles outfitted with CapturIT® onboard reader systems. With the Tip-based Household Reduction Of Waste (T.H.R.O.W) program, refuse bags-and-tags and recycling bins were replaced with Cascade SmartCarts® and semi-automated collection vehicles were replaced with fully automated vehicles to fully automate collection services. Carts are linked to each residents’ address using Xtreme RFID tags, allowing for refuse and recycling data collection, and the transfer of operational data to the back office using the onboard CapturIT systems. Recycling is free in the city and residents are charged for refuse on a per-tip basis, only when their cart is emptied, providing a disincentive for garbage production, and aligning the cost of service with refuse fees. Larger recycling containers, single stream collection, and a recycling rewards program, myGRcitypoints, incentivizes recycling participation, resulting in increased recycling rates and tonnages.


  • Cost Savings. Approximately $1 million in annual savings from the reduction of printing and distribution of refuse bags and tags.
  • Waste Diversion. Cascade SmartCarts and CapturIT systems provided the platform for the recycling incentive and pay-for-service programs resulting in a 63% increase in recycling tonnage, a 12% decrease in refuse tonnage and approximately $160,000 in disposal savings annually.
  • Improved Efficiency. Real time route management and live truck tracking optimizes collection routes.
  • Simplified Billing. Residents maintain their own account reducing customer service requirements to manage billing and collections, saving $20,000 annually.
  • Multiple Payment Methods. Payments are accepted via website, IVR (automated phone), and in person at the cash office reducing customer service and billing requirements.
  • Eliminate Bad Debt. CapturIT truck systems read the RFID tags on carts and provide trucks with the option to not tip carts which have a negative account balance.
  • Accurate Customer Database. RFID tags and CapturIT truck systems provide an ongoing, accurate customer database.


ROI: 5 years
Estimated Savings: $1.27 M/Year
Recycling Tonnage: 63% Increase
Recycling Participation: 37% Increase
Refuse Tonnage: 12% Decrease
Routing Efficiencies: 40% Increase


Visit the City of Grand Rapids' Public Services dashboard for up-to-date refuse and recycling statistics.

Read RFID Journal's Cover Story, RFID Green Award: The Economic Benefits of Going Green.

Read the original MLive article announcing the Green Award online here, and a program update as of June 2013 here.

See Grand Rapids in Recycling Product News' September 2013 issue here, and MSW Management's Nov/Dec 2013 issue here.

Full Press Release Here