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August 14th, 2018

New York Wants You to Redesign Their City’s Trash Bin

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Written by: Bart Brejcha
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New York City has over 23,000 litter baskets outside. The most common design is the green wire mesh basket – due to the affordability and easy serviceability, the design has been left mostly the same since the 1930s. New yorkers feel that the wire basket is in need of a redesign. To find a new design to meet the needs of a modern urban city, the BetterBin competition is seeking entries to find New York’s next trash bin!

Multifunctional teams of designers, artists, architects, urban designers, and manufacturers are advised to participate and enter design proposals by September 20. Three design finalists will get $40,000 to build prototype trash baskets for trial on the city’s streets. After the trial period, the judges will choose a the winner for the competition. At that point the winner will have opportunity to further develop the design to ensure the capability to mass produce the basket at a feasible cost.

The contest was is put together in collaboration between Van Alen Institute and the New York City Department of Sanitation, in consultation with the Industrial Designers Society of America and the American Institute of Architects New York.

The brief from betterbin states “‘The ideal design should aim to improve the quality of life, street cleanliness, and appearance of street corners across the city. The ideal design is simple and enduring, equally at home on any street in any borough, with the ability to stay relevant in a modern city alongside other sidewalk innovations for the next 100 years.”

A few of the requirements:

  • Empty baskets cannot exceed 32 lbs
  • Height cannot exceed 42 in
  • Must have capacity of at least 40 gallons

According to their website, “ BetterBin marks the launch of Van Alen Institute Product Placed initiative, a new series of design competitions to create innovative civic products that improve urban life.”

Design considerations for new litter baskets include:

  • Quality of life and aesthetics: The ideal design should improve the quality of life, street cleanliness and the appearance of street corners. Designs should have proper drainage and minimize access for rodents and other vermin.
  • Proper use: Public space litter and recycling baskets are intended for pedestrians to dispose of light refuse and recycling. Designs should discourage improper use of litter baskets.
  • Accessibility: A litter basket should be convenient, accessible and easily identifiable as a place to deposit waste. Designs should be compliant with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), sanitary and should not require pedestrians to touch the basket to use it.
  • Sustainability and stewardship: A new litter basket design using recycled materials, innovative fabrication methods and technology applied in a clever, imaginative and original way are welcome. The basket should be able to be used as recycling bins and must accommodate sustainability messaging.
  • Servicing: Litter baskets are emptied frequently. The process includes dragging and lifting them. Empty baskets must weigh no more than 32 pounds. The new baskets should be ergonomically designed and be able to be serviced quickly and effectively without injuring workers.
  • Cost, durability and ease of maintenance: Baskets experience significant wear and tear. The new basket must be durable enough to withstand daily use, frequent servicing, variation in waste materials and all temperatures, weather and wind conditions.
  • Security: Litter baskets are removed for special events or security operations. A stackable design enables easy storage and transport. Designs must be conscious of and minimize risks associated with misuse of public space infrastructure.

More details and submission guidelines on the BetterBin competition may be found at www.betterbin.nyc.


About the Author

Bart Brejcha
As the main instructor for Design-engine Bart teaches many of the PTC Creo & the Solidworks Surfacing classes. When he is not developing new training material you will find him on motorcycles, bicycles or on a skateboard. He loves any kind of racing on two wheels.




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2 Comments


  1. Jon Sharp

    It seams that the United States is all about cost when it comes to developing products – Jon


  2. Tim

    while Italy is all about style?



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