Trash can contest finalists put to the test in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens

The Sanitation Department is testing new trash and recyling basket designs on the corner of West 43rd Street and Ninth Avenue in Manhattan.
The Sanitation Department is testing new trash and recyling basket designs on the corner of West 43rd Street and Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Mariah Lopez

There are some new garbage cans in town — and the city is hoping to hear all about how they handle New Yorkers’ trash. 

The Sanitation Department unveiled four new prototype street litter baskets on Thursday that will be tested in parts of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens over the next 30 to 90 days.

They are the finalists of last year’s Better Bin Competition, which challenged designers to come up with a new look for the city’s wire mesh street corner baskets while keeping them effective and accessible for workers who  empty them into trash trucks.

“This was a big opportunity to improve the ergonomics of the can and give the sanitation workers better ways to lift the can,” said James Krause from Smart Design, which designed  two of the prototypes: one for regular trash and one for trash to be recycled.. “We added a lot more grip points; there are handles at the top and one at the bottom.”

That attention to detail was appreciated by sanitation workers Thomas Franzone and Michael Malerba, who both work out of the Manhattan 4 Garage.

“I like the design, and they are lighter than the ones out there now,” said Malerba. “The grab handles make it easier.”

Members of the public can weigh in with their own comments at betterbin.nyc.

The team behind the winning design for a pair of garbage and recycling bin prototypes will get a chance to contract with the city to produce the baskets on a larger scale.

Design firm finalists were selected for the contest, sponsored by the Sanitation Department, the Van Alen Institute and the Industrial Designers Society of America.

The two prototypes by Group Project, one for regular trash and one for recyclables, were also on display at the news conference at West 43rd Street and Ninth Avenue. The Group Project entries feature removable baskets inside a larger container.

“This really shows the creativity out there,” said acting Sanitation Commissioner Steven Costas. “Any opportunity to be able to service the 23,000 baskets citywide and do it more efficiently would be a welcome option for the sanitation workers.”

Costas also noted the designs echo features in current litter baskets.

“Some of those basics still have to fall into play for them to withstand the daily wear and tear from New Yorkers,” he said.

The prototypes are being  tested along Ninth Avenue in Manhattan between 43rd and 45th streets, along Main Street in Flushing between Maple and Cherry avenues and along Castle Hill Avenue in the Bronx between Newbold and Ellis avenues. 

The winning design will be selected by a panel based on performance, public response and feedback from sanitation workers.