In early October a small Seattle based waste management company called CleanScapes pulled an amazing coup: It defeated two huge national companies for $25 million in Seattle-area service contracts. One of CleanScapes' ideas: photograph clients with tiny cameras to find out whether they're following the city's compulsory recycling law. Cameras on CleanScapes trucks (not installed in front of the houses, according to company CEO Chris Martin) would snap the photos, which the firm could either use to recommend that customers change their ways or simply send to the city authorities.
Billion-dollar sanitation giants usually dominate such contracts, and the possibility that $6 million CleanScapes might take over some municipal services surprised even CEO Martin, who calls the cameras "my best idea, my get-people-riled-up thing." Martin insists he doesn't want to become some kind of trash-compacting Big Brother. "It would be a little over the top to bust on someone because their kid put his beer bottles in the trash," he says. "The idea was to monitor commercial accounts where compliance with laws is not so good."