San Francisco Officials To Decide Whether To Build Trash Can Prototypes At Up To $20k Apiece
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 18: A view of San Francisco's famed Painted Ladies victorian houses on February 18, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Officials in San Francisco agreed to move forward on a proposal to manufacture 15 trash can prototypes at the cost of up to $300,000 total for a pilot program to find an alternative to the city’s existing, aging receptacles.

“$20,000 a can is ridiculous,” said Democratic Supervisor Matt Haney after a presentation earlier this week. “It sounds like a FOX News headline waiting to happen.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “the cost per can will drop to an estimated $2,000 to $3,000” when mass-produced, but “supervisors balked at the price to get there.”

Still, Haney and the other members of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee opted to bring the issue to the full board for a vote next week to prevent further delays. The proposal calls for building 15 prototypes, five each of three different designs, to test in the fall.

S.F. Public Works acting director Alaric Degrafinried agreed that the prototype cost is “a lot.” He explained, however, that they are custom-made from stainless steel and include sensors that monitor the amount of garbage in each can and notify workers when they are nearing capacity.

“They’re going to be made here in San Francisco on a one-by-one basis, so there is a lot of manual labor that goes into that cost,” he told KGO News.

Degrafinried said his goal “is to have the best, most efficient trash cans in the world.”

San Francisco currently has more than 3,000 garbage cans throughout the city. Most have been around for more than 20 years and have wide openings, allowing people to rummage through, oftentimes leaving a mess in the area surrounding the receptacle.

More details from the Chronicle:

San Francisco tentatively plans to try out the prototypes from November to January. The city will pay for the prototypes out of budget funds placed on reserve, but any new mass-produced cans would be paid for by trash rates.

The city began the process in 2018, when it decided to work on a new custom-designed trash can. Oakland-based Institute for Creative Integration is the industrial designer and San Francisco firm Advanced Prototype Engineering LLC will be designing and building prototypes based off the designs. Last year, Public Works released three finalists for sleek gray bins. The three that will be part of the pilot are a Salt & Pepper shaker-shaped can with a rectangular opening near the top and small hole for recyclables, a narrow rectangular Slim Silhouette with two circles for trash and recycling, and a wider rectangular Soft Square with a handle to pull open a chute.

Public Works is asking supervisors to approve spending $537,000 from $840,000 on reserve to cover design costs for 15 trash cans, 10 garbage carts with wheels that go inside the stationary can, management, some existing trash can models and contingency money for unknown costs.

According to S.F. Public Works, “The look of the new cans is intended to complement the design of the new JCDecaux public toilets, now in production, the BART canopies on Market Street and the café on Civic Center Plaza.”

Related: San Francisco Weighs Continuing Homeless Encampment Program That Costs $60k Per Tent Each Year

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