Modular waste bins by Group Project distributed across New York City

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Modular waste bins designed by local industrial design studio Group Projects to be recyclable and assist sanitation workers have begun to be distributed across New York City’s five boroughs.

Called the Better Bin, the design was the winner of a 2018 Department of Sanitation (DSNY) competition, where participants were asked to redesign New York City standard green wire mesh receptacles.

Modular waste bins by Colin P Kelly of Group Projects are being distributed across New York City

“The challenge was to devise solutions that addressed the complexities of urban waste management, all while balancing functionality with aesthetic appeal,” said the team.

Group Projects created a trash can composed of three modular parts; a metal base that wraps halfway around a plastic interior “liner” topped with a bisected lid.

The bins make use of a three-part, modular design

The studio largely focused on making the trash can lighter and easier to manoeuvre for sanitation workers, as opposed to the heavier steel mesh trash cans found throughout New York City.

“[There were] generally a lot of things to improve ergonomically in terms of how it’s interacted with, how heavy it is – removing sharp edges so they don’t bash sanitation workers, shins and things like that,” Group Project founder Colin P Kelly told Dezeen. 

An interior plastic liner makes them lighter for sanitation workers to manoeuvre

“There were certain requirements around making sure that it didn’t blow over in 60-mile-an-hour wind gusts, but it couldn’t be bolted down to the street corner. And very quickly, we sort of came to the conclusion that something modular was the approach that was going to help solve all of these things.”

The interior plastic liner lessens the load by approximately 20 pounds per bin, according to the team, while the bisected lid acts as a handle for workers to disassemble the unit.


New York City’s rubbish bins are redesigned

The liner, along with various components, was designed to eventually be recycled.

“We didn’t include any other kind of hardware or any other materials in there that would prevent it from being recycled easily,” said Kelly.

The metal base keeps the bin rooted to the sidewalk in high-speed winds

An additional eight handles were distributed along the top and bottom rim of the interior baskets, as opposed to the three found in the previous design.

“We firmly subscribe to the idea that thoughtful design in public spaces enhances urban livability,” said the team.

The design reduces the weight by approximately 20 pounds

“While a trash bin might be viewed as a simple utility, its design and placement can profoundly influence the urban experience for both residents and those responsible for its upkeep.”

The Better Bin will be distributed across New York City in the coming years, as the green mesh trash cans are slowly decommissioned.

Currently, there are approximately 300 scattered across the city, with five original prototypes installed in the East Village, which Kelly said “have been travelling all over the city” for the past five years for testing.

Other trash can designs include a recent project by start-up Mill that dries and shrinks up leftovers so that can be reused and the Townew bin by Knectek Labs that changes its own bags.

The photography is courtesy of Group Projects. 

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