Trash is a perpetual nuisance in the life of a New Yorker. Whether you’re taking it out to keep it from stinking up your tiny apartment, holding your nose while walking past towering piles of trash on the street, or peeling it off your shoe, garbage is simply unavoidable.
But New York City is on a mission to stop sending garbage to landfills entirely by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal for such a large city, and the sanitation department has a rather unorthodox plan to help support the initiative. The agency has called for proposals to redesign the 23,000 green wire public trash cans that are an unmistakable part of the city’s urban landscape. The city hopes that the bins themselves will broadcast the city’s commitment to sustainability to the public, and maybe even convince more people to put their garbage in the cans. Plus, some of the new designs allow for different uses, easily transforming from a garbage can to a recycling bin.
Now, the city has announced its three finalists, which include bin designs by Group Project, IonDesign GmbH Berlin, and Smart Design. With the goal of an environmentally conscious and ergonomic design to make sanitation workers’ lives easier, the concepts all look exactly like trash cans, with a few design differences. The Group Project trash can is plastic with a metal stand, which is designed to make it easier for sanitation workers to pull out the bin itself. The top of the can can be adjusted so that the design could eventually accommodate both a garbage can and a recycling bin. IonDesign’s concept maintains the wire-mesh look of today’s trash cans, but tapers more dramatically from the mouth to the ground. The designers say that this funnel shape is more efficient when sanitation workers are tipping the cans to empty them. The Smart Design proposal’s bent metal tubing was inspired by the New York subway, plus it provides a convenient place to grip the can at the top. The entire can is made of recycled steel parts, and has a customizable lid that can signal to people it’s for garbage or recycling.
Now, each firm will work with the city to create 12 prototypes, which will then be tested in neighborhoods during summer 2019. Then, they’ll see if their cans can really withstand life on the streets of New York.