San Francisco's $20,000 trash cans have hit the streets

The "Slim Silhouette" designed trash can as part of San Francisco's new pilot program.
The "Slim Silhouette" designed trash can; part of San Francisco's new pilot program. Photo credit San Francisco Public Works
By , KCBS Radio

Remember San Francisco's $20,000 trash can prototypes that made national headlines last year? They are now hitting the streets.

San Francisco Public Works is launching their new trash can testing program throughout the city for the rest of the summer. The department this week will finish dispersing 26 sleekly designed cans across the city for residents and visitors to use and evaluate over a 60-day period.

The new bins feature five of each new custom-designed prototypes and three to four off-the-shelf models. The cans will be installed at an initial set of locations for 30 days before being moved to additional sites for another 30 days.

You can view a map of where the cans are located by clicking here.

People will be able to scan a QR code on the bins, which will direct them to an online survey where they can give their feedback and vote on which variety they like best.

Following the two-month test run, the agency will choose a winning design that will be mass-produced to create over 3,000 new trash cans at $2,000 to $3,000 per bin and used across San Francisco.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city paid a combined $536,000 to both an Oakland and San Francisco manufacturer to custom-make the cans.

Each prototype cost no less than $10,000, with the most expensive billed at $20,900 -- a price tag which garnered local and national backlash, including from San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, who called it "ridiculous."

Following the criticism, city officials said they would try to only spend $12,000 per bin.

The off-the-shelf models are reportedly much cheaper, priced at $630, $1,950, and $2,850.

The new trash bins are an effort by the city to clean up its notoriously dirty streets. Officials said the current cans were designed 20 years ago when street conditions were different and the city's population and number of visitors were "considerably" lower.

"Why so expensive? It's not the cans, it's people," KCBS Radio insider Phil Matier said. "They’re looking for cans that. first of all, are easy to empty. Two, they want them to look good. But the real challenge is that people trash them. They trash the trash cans. They go through them. If they can go into a trash can on a public street they often tear through it looking for recyclable bottles and they leave the mess with everything they’ve pulled out all around the can."

"The big issue for San Francisco is," he added, "that even after they put these in, there's no guarantee that it’s going to keep the streets any cleaner, because people then have to use them."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: San Francisco Public Works