Check out the $20,000 bin and other designs


The city’s public works department has spent 3½ years working on designs and $550,000 on a pilot program that aims to fix problems with the city’s current trash cans, which critics say are the one of the culprits of its notoriously dirty streets. Current green models often overflow and are easily broken into, sometimes causing a bigger mess.

An undated photo shows a current trash can overflowing on a San Francisco sidewalk.

San Francisco Public Works

Public Works is sending three custom prototypes made by local businesses and three off-the-shelf models to locations around San Francisco.

Here are the three custom trash can designs, what they look like, and what the makers say is unique about each design:

Salt pepper

Salt pepper

Salt pepper

Creative Integration Institute

The salt and pepper shaker box has a rectangular opening near the top and a small hole for recyclables.

According to the Public Works website: “Steel fins welded to the ribs give Salt & Pepper a durable frame as well as visibility for safety and graffiti deterrence. A shroud minimizes the size of objects that can be thrown, discouraging oversized and obstructing objects.”

Slim figure

Slim figure

Slim figure

Creative Integration Institute

The narrow, rectangular “Slim Silhouette” has two circles for waste and recycling. The box’s slim side profile “leaves more room on sidewalks for people to move freely while clearly presenting disposal options on the front side for trash and recycling exchange,” says the Public Works website. Also: “This one-sided access and chute-like bin opening makes it harder to rummage through, so more trash stays inside… Stainless steel pipe construction ensures longer-lasting beauty with ease cleaning and a less flat surface for graffiti.”

sweet square

sweet square

sweet square

Creative Integration Institute

A larger rectangular “Soft Square” has a handle to open a chute. It has openings for trash cans and bottles/cans that sit behind the front hopper door, “giving the design a clean look”. The Public Works website also notes that the “hopper” design “makes overfilling and digging extremely difficult.”

Here are the ready-to-use models chosen for testing by Public Works:

bear saver

The BearSaver can accommodate a custom vinyl graphic design on its four vertical sides.  A recycling receptacle can be added to the side of the can.  This box is manufactured by Securr.

The BearSaver can accommodate a custom vinyl graphic design on its four vertical sides. A recycling receptacle can be added to the side of the can. This box is manufactured by Securr.

SF Public Works

Ren Bin

The Ren Bin is made by Victor Stanley.

The Ren Bin is made by Victor Stanley.

SF Public Works

open mesh

Open Wire Mesh: This box is manufactured by Global Industries.

Open Wire Mesh: This box is manufactured by Global Industries.

SF Public Works

The city will take out 26 trash cans, and each trash can will be in two different locations during the 60-day pilot project.

Here is a map published by Public Works with the locations of the canisters:

Each custom prototype costs over $10,000 – with one at $11,000, another $18,800 and the third at $20,900 per box. Last year, the city said it would try to spend just $12,000 per prototype after the pushback. When mass-produced, each box would cost between $2,000 and $3,000 each.

San Franciscans will have the chance to provide feedback on the designs using a QR code taped to each trash can. Public Works will review feedback and land on a final design, then select the manufacturer in the fall. There is no timeline indicating when San Franciscans will see the more than 3,000 new cans on the street.

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