“Hacking” the Trash – Part 1

Striving towards freedom

If you are anything like me: you love independence and hate being dependent on other people.

Furthermore, if you have been a student, living in a bigger city, you probably are familiar with the concept of sharing a house with multiple people or even the landlord him-/herself.

Well, in my current living situation I share a house with four people and the landlord herself, as she owns the barbershop beneath our apartments. That by itself is not really a problem but rather the fact that she keeps the trash card in her shop, which we residents are only able to access during the opening times of said shop.

For me this means: 1. Always having to go in her shop and asking for the card. 2. Not being able to throw away the trash after 17:00 (after her shop closes) 3. Not being able to throw away the trash on the whole of Sunday and Tuesday.

All of this makes the simple task of throwing away the trash a really person dependent ordeal.

Getting annoyed

So now you might think: “Just throw away the trash at a reasonable time in the morning!” or “It really isn’t a big deal asking someone for the card really quick, is it?”.

But I kinda feel like a little child when I always have to ask someone for before being able to do something so trivial.

In this case: taking out the trash.

Furthermore, when I come home late from university and her shop is closed, I simply have no way to get rid of some trash after cleaning up.

Can’t there just be like… 2 cards? Or like 5?

The current system in place

Leiden, as well as some other big cities in The Netherlands, use an underground trash-system. This system neatly disposes of all trash by means of a big underground storage underneath the little access points depicted in the picture above. It is a great way to get all the garbage off of the streets. It makes for a visually appealing and clean city.

To access these underground containers, one needs, as mentioned above, one of these trash cards. In dutch: “afvalpas” or “containerpas”.

Leiden Containerpass on Scanner
Source: https://girlkeven.com

These trash cards were handed out to every household when the system changed from merely “putting your trash bags in front of your apartment and wait for the garbage man to pick them up” to “neat underground storage system”.

There usually is a maximum of 1 card per household, which in normal circumstances works perfectly fine, but when multiple independent entities need to access this card throughout different times of the day, it can create some difficulties.

So are there any alternatives?

There used to be a way…

The last couple of months throughout the beginning of 2019 until just recently, I was able to use the Leiden University student card (LU-Card) to access the underground storage system.

As outlined in this dutch article, the municipality of Leiden made it possible for anyone with an University Card to access the underground containers while they were experiencing some trouble with the existing card system. This temporary fix made it possible for LU-Cards to open the trash system.

Sadly, it seems that they were able to update the firmware on the containers as just very recently my LU-Card stopped giving me access to the underground storage system.

…but it all came to an end

Now after having this immeasurable luxury of having my own card to access these containers, I just was not able to go back to the way things used to be.

That is when I started researching about the Leiden containerpass. Or more specifically, how I could copy one of these cards as simple as possible.
Say, with my Smartphone.

So what I knew before diving deeper into the topic myself is, that:

  • These cards should have some kind of RFID (Radio-frequency identification) chip.
  • My phone has something called NFC (Near-field communication)

But as far as I am currently informed it is very possible to first, read these cards (or any cards that are of the same type as these) as well as copy and potentially duplicate them onto another empty card ONLY with your smartphone!

Some help from Shenzen – China

I ordered some cards from AliExpress.com and am awaiting their arrival as I am trying to apply what I have learned over the last couple of weeks about this technology.

Thanks for reading !