San Francisco has selected a design for the city’s new generation of public trash cans following a 2-month pilot program that put six bins to the test.

San Francisco Public Works officials recently announced that they have chosen the Slim Silhouette as their top pick for the city’s new trash can because of its durability, tamper-resistance and easy-to-clean design.

Public Works began collaborating with Bay Area industrial designers in 2020 to find a new model to replace the current green “Renaissance” can, a trash bin used for the past 20 years that city officials say are “an easy target for scavengers who rummage through them and leave behind a mess.”

A prototype “Slim Silhouette” public trash can shares sidewalk space with a JCDecaux public toilet in San Francisco on Nov. 23, 2022. People surveyed preferred the narrow profile of the Slim Silhouette to other designs, saying it takes up less space on the sidewalk. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco Public Works via Bay City News)

“We’ve gone through a comprehensive feedback process, and we are excited to be moving forward with the new public trash can design,” said interim Public Works director Carla Short. “The new design will be one of our tools in improving the street and sidewalk cleanliness in San Francisco.”

The Slim Silhouette competed against three off-the-shelf trash cans and two other custom-designed prototypes — including the design that caused national criticism for its initial $20,000 price tag.

Officials expect the price of the garbage cans to become considerably more cost-efficient in mass production, roughly $2,000 to $3,000 apiece.

First impressions

Alongside its competitors, crews placed the Slim Silhouette in various locations around the city this summer to see if the design could successfully be rummage-resistant and easy to clean.

In an online and in-person public feedback survey, residents said the Slim Silhouette was both the most durable and the most aesthetically pleasing for its slim side profile that allowed more room for walking on the sidewalk.

Features of the “Slim Silhouette” trash can design are highlighted in a rendering. (Image by Institute for Creative Integration via San Francisco Public Works)

Public Works said the winning design will be tweaked to improve its performance, like resizing its opening, redesigning the symbol for recycle exchange and adjusting its locking mechanism. The new trash cans will also have a sensor installed in them to notify crews of when they are nearing capacity and prevent overflow.

Crews say the next steps before releasing a request for mass production is securing funding and moving through multiple city approval processes.