The NYC Department of Sanitation revealed prototypes of two new trash bin designs on Thursday, ahead of a pilot program in three neighborhoods which will help determine which concept will become the next NYC trash can.

The ubiquitous green, wire mesh trash can has essentially remained the same since the 1930s. However, one issue with the wire mesh version is that it’s heavy and unwieldy when loaded with garbage—so the Department of Sanitation launched the BetterBin competition to bring the trash into the 21st century.

The BetterBin competition started out with nearly 200 submissions and whittled them down to finalists Smart Design and Group Project. Each team aimed to create a product that was aesthetically appealing to the everyday pedestrian and easy to handle for the sanitation worker who needs to pick it up.

As outlined by competition guidelines, the designers were tasked with creating a lightweight, ergonomic basket that was capable of releasing rain water to lighten the physical labor, all while remaining pleasing to the eye. Both teams produced both regular trash and recyclables cans.

Acting Sanitation Commissioner Steven Costas said sanitation workers need a product that will help them do their job as fast as possible with minimal difficulty. “I do remember what it’s like picking up those baskets," he told Gothamist. "Think about when someone shoves an umbrella in a corner basket, and then you try to empty it and of course it opens and gets stuck!"

Group Project, one of the two finalists, took a modular approach to their bin design that comes in three parts: A metal stand, a lid and a removable plastic basket, while cutting the weight of down by half and keeping costs down. Group Project's Colin Kelly from the team told us, “We designed this to be an everlasting piece of the infrastructure in the city and I want New Yorkers to recognize it and love it for many years to come."

The other finalist, Smart Design, wanted to focus on a simple and straightforward redesign rather than having multiple moving pieces. They constructed their bin out of steel to have a durable structure that could take a thrashing, while remaining lightweight and simple to carry. James Krause of Smart Design explained to Gothamist, “The most important thing obviously is that it looks like a trashcan and people know how to use it.”

The prototype baskets will replace the green wire baskets in Parkchester, Bronx on Castle Hill Avenue around Newbold and Ellis Avenue; in Hell’s Kitchen between 43rd and 45th Streets; and in Flushing, Queens along Main Street between Maple and Cherry Avenue for up to 90 days. After that, a panel of judges will select a winner based on "prototype performance, public response, and feedback from the Department’s Sanitation Workers," according to the Sanitation Department. (The public can weigh in at

Ultimately, the winner will be able to eligible to contract with the city to mass produce their basket. Fun fact: There are 23,000 trash cans around the city!

"We want people to appreciate that this is the first time a trashcan has really been designed with the user in mind," Andrew Brown, Associate Director at Van Alen Institute, which partnered with the Sanitation Department on the contest, said. "The users being the people who throw out trash everyday and the sanitation workers who come and pick it up.”