SF considers fixing garbage issue by testing new trash cans that cost up to $20K each

ByMatt Boone KGO logo
Friday, July 23, 2021
SF considers testing new trash cans that cost up to $20K each
San Francisco Public Works is unveiling three prototype designs ahead of a public vote on new trash cans to address the garbage problem on sidewalks.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco officials want to replace the city's aging public trash cans. But the pilot program may have to come at a serious cost.

The Department of Public Works has released photos of three prototypes for garbage cans to replace the current green bins.

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DPW estimates the cost to manufacture the prototypes will be between $12,000 to $20,000 each. They plan to make 15 total, adding up to $300,000.

That's just for the outer shell. Two of the prototypes will require the inner bins to be custom-made as well due to their unique shape.

The total cost of the pilot is estimated to be $537,000, according to a presentation made by DPW to the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday. The city has made plans to pay for them out of budget funds that were placed on reserve.

"$20,000 a can is ridiculous," said Supervisor Matt Haney after the presentation. "It sounds like a Fox News headline waiting to happen."

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Haney has supported the need for new trash cans and agreed to allow the project to move forward, later telling ABC7 he wants to find a way to decrease the cost of the prototypes before it goes any farther.

Public Works acting director Alaric Degrafinried said the main reason for the high costs is due to the custom-made designs.

"They're going to be made here in San Francisco on a one-by-one basis, so there is a lot of manual labor that goes into that cost," said Degranfinried in an interview on Thursday.

The cans will be made out of stainless steel and will also include a sensor that can determine how full they are, "to make sure we are going to send people where the work is needed," said Degrafinried.

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He said the plan is to do a 60-day pilot to gather data on which prototype is the most effective. They will also be testing out commercially available cans that are much cheaper. Once they pick a design, he said the contract will be put out for a competitive bid, bringing down the cost.

"We think the actual cost of production will be in the 3 to 4 thousand dollar range," said Degranfinried.

If given the green light from the Arts Commission Civic Design Review Committee in September, 15 of the prototypes will be installed and tested in real-life scenarios starting in November.

The public will then get to weigh in on which version they liked best before the final decision is made.

The full proposal and survey for the prototypes can be found on the San Francisco Public Works website.