BetterBin: A next generation litter basket for New York City.



New York City is home to more than 23,250 public street litter baskets that offer pedestrians a convenient way to dispose of refuse and recyclables on the go. The most widespread design—the green, wire-mesh basket—is affordable, easy to service and has remained largely unchanged since the 1930s. While iconic to the streets of New York, the wire basket is in need of a redesign to better address the current and future waste needs of the City.

While litter basket refuse accounts for less than 2% of the City’s waste, the presence of a litter basket on almost every highly-trafficked corner helps shape our attitudes and behaviors around waste in general. Public space design is a crucial tool for tackling complex social, ecological, and cultural challenges that stand in the way of improving street cleanliness and achieving Zero Waste.

How can we create a practical and efficient litter basket for New York City that reduces litter and better serves both Sanitation Workers and the public?



August 9, 2018 Stage I Q&A Deadline

August 15, 2018 Stage I Q&A Answers Posted Online

September 20, 2018 Stage I Submission Deadline

November 2018 Stage II Competitors Notified

December 2018 Stage II Competitors Announced

May 31, 2019 Stage II Submission Deadline

Summer 2019 Prototype Installation & Testing

Fall 2019 Winner Announced



The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) keeps New York City healthy, safe and clean by collecting, recycling and disposing of waste, cleaning streets and vacant lots, and clearing snow and ice. The Department operates 59 district garages and manages a fleet of more than 2,000 rear-loading collection trucks, 450 mechanical brooms and 693 salt/sand spreaders. The Department clears litter, snow and ice from approximately 6,500 miles of City streets and removes debris from vacant lots as well as abandoned vehicles from City streets.

Van Alen Institute

Van Alen is a 124-year-old nonprofit that uses design to catalyze positive change in cities. We believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.

Product Placed is a category of design competitions through which Van Alen helps cities use design to improve civic products that affect urban life. Our approach brings together experts across disciplines with everyday voices to inspire fresh thinking, help people visualize a different future, and enable lasting change.

Industrial Designers Society of America

Founded in 1965, the nonprofit Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is one of the oldest and largest industrial design associations, representing thousands of members in dozens of Student Chapters, Professional Chapters and Special Interest Sections in the United States and internationally. Its mission is to promote the practice of industrial design through education, information, community and advocacy. IDSA sponsors the annual International Design Excellence Awards® (IDEA), the world’s most prestigious and rigorous design competition. The Society hosts events including an annual International Design Conference, five District Design Conferences and niche conferences, bringing together some of the biggest names and brightest minds in industrial design and related fields.

American Institute of Architects – New York

AIA New York is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects with over 5,500 members. To fulfill its goals of design excellence, public outreach, and professional development, the chapter organizes initiatives, programs and exhibitions that explore topics vital to the profession, including housing, planning, historic preservation, and urban design. AIA New York shares a home with the Center for Architecture, the premier cultural venue for architecture and the built environment in New York City. The current exhibition at the Center for Architecture, Designing Waste: Strategies for a Zero Waste City, explores how we manage waste in our buildings and neighborhoods, and how design can help New York City achieve its zero waste goal. The exhibition is based on the Zero Waste Design Guidelines, a resource developed by the AIANY Committee on the Environment and the Center for Architecture, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, to help designers, building operators, and planners reduce waste and increase diversion rates for recyclables.