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



Download the request for proposals for complete details. 

A successful design for a new standard litter basket for New York City should meet the following criteria:


1. Quality of Life and Aesthetics 


The ideal design should aim to improve the quality of life, street cleanliness, and appearance of street corners across the City. An overflowing, unsightly, or damaged litter basket invites misuse and attracts rodents. Designs should have proper drainage to allow for fluid and rainwater egress, and minimize rodent access through the bottom or sides.

The ideal design is simple and enduring, equally at home on any street in any borough, with the ability to stay relevant in a modern city alongside other sidewalk innovations for the next 100 years.


2. Proper Use


Public space litter and recycling baskets are intended for pedestrians to dispose of light refuse and recycling. It is against the law to put household waste, business waste, or street sweepings in a litter basket (these actions are subject to a $100 fine). Designs should discourage improper use of litter baskets.


3. Accessibility


A litter basket should be easily identified as a place to deposit waste on the go, and should be convenient and accessible to all New Yorkers. Designs should be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and should not require pedestrians to physically touch the basket in order to dispose of waste.


4. Sustainability and Stewardship


The ideal design has the potential to make a significant positive impact on the environment. Ideally the design itself should set a new benchmark for sustainable design and help contribute to a better and more sustainable future. Recycled materials, innovative fabrication methods, and/or technologies applied in a clever, imaginative, and original way, are welcome. The design must be able to be easily reconfigured or repurposed for use as a recycling bin, and must accommodate sustainability messaging.


5. Servicing


The City’s litter baskets are emptied daily, sometimes more than once a day, by Sanitation Workers. Servicing typically includes lifting and dragging baskets between the curb and the truck. Litter baskets must weigh no more than 32 pounds when empty. The ideal grip features, dimensions, capacity, and overall design should apply best practices in ergonomics for lifting and dragging and should be able to be serviced quickly and effectively without injury.


6. Cost, Durability, and Ease of Maintenance


The design is intended as a replacement for the current low-cost, high-durability, stackable steel mesh litter basket. Current steel mesh litter baskets experience significant wear and tear over the course of a typical 2.5-3 year lifespan where a basket may be serviced nearly 2,650 times. The basket must be durable enough to withstand daily use, frequent servicing, variation in waste materials, and all temperatures, weather, and wind conditions.

Proposed designs should not exceed a maximum cost per basket at scale (20,000 units) of $175 per unit with an anticipated lifecycle of 2,500 service cycles, and may exceed $175 only with a proportional increase in durability.


7. Security


Litter baskets in New York City are removed by DSNY for special events or for NYPD security operations. A stackable design enables easy storage and transport when needed. Designs must be conscious of and minimize risks associated with misuse of public space infrastructure. The basket should be freestanding and may not be designed in a way that requires it to be affixed to the sidewalk, or permanently attached to any other element of the streetscape.