SF’s prototype trash cans have landed – with one bearing a $20,900 price tag

The future of on-street trash cans – in sweeping lines and gleaming chrome – has come to San Francisco. And that future is dear.

After almost four years of in-depth meetings, design discussions, and engineering, Public Works today launched its new trash can prototypes, rolling out 26 new bins to locations across the city. One of the three prototype models has surpassed the Board of Supervisors’ expected price ceiling of $20,000 per can.

The prototype cans rolled out today cost between $11,000 to $20,900 apiece to manufacture, depending on the model. The average cost-per-can worked out at $16,900.

According to Beth Rubenstein, deputy director of policy and communications at Public Works, the high cost is mainly down to the price of materials (each of the prototypes is made from stainless steel). This price should drop significantly if they are chosen to be mass produced, however – down to the region of $2,000 to $5,000, according to various estimates by Public Works during hearings earlier this year.

The three designs put together by Public Works will be pitted against three bin designs that are already commercially available in a 60-day trial, starting today.

Rubenstein said that the final can may be one of the contenders on the streets today, or it may be a mash-up of several of them, depending on what they learn from the trial. Whichever design is ultimately chosen is expected to replace over 3,000 of the city’s current Renaissance trash cans next year.

Here are the contenders in all their glory:

The prototypes

The off-the-shelf models

“The current cans were designed more than 20 years ago when street conditions were different, and our population and number of visitors were considerably lower,” said Rubenstein in a press release. “Finding the right public trash can to serve our needs and address our challenges at a reasonable cost have driven this design process.”


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