San Francisco Still Looking for the Perfect Trash Can


Sophia Zafra, Author

     San Francisco has been searching for the ideal trash can for years and is nearing the end of its quest. The San Francisco Public Works officials have been looking for a trash can that can prevent garbage from being thrown along the street, and help workers empty the bin quickly and efficiently. Past trash cans, called “renaissance cans” weren’t large enough to hold all of the waste, and people littered the streets instead. These cans, which most cities used, were just not a desirable way to clean the city, especially such a big one like the “Golden Gate City”. 

     As the city began to explore more options for designing the perfect can, they had some specific criteria for prototypes they were looking for. For instance, they needed something that rummagers couldn’t look through, a good size for the number of tourists, and had a sensor that could tell when the can was full so it was easy enough to empty.  Some garbage collectors can get back injuries or even tense muscles from emptying trash cans all day. Their budget for each trash can was about $2,000 to $3,000, so it had a good appearance that looked well on the streets.

     They couldn’t find any garbage cans that were already made and fit their criteria, so they paid local companies to design prototypes based on the description given. On July 18, 2022, they ended up with three prototypes, and after inspecting them, they thought that none of them were exactly what they were looking for. The “Salt & Pepper” trash can does not have much room for graffiti, the “Slim Silhouette” is skinny and doesn’t take up much space, while the “Soft Square” has a foot petal for easy access. All of the garbage cans have many benefits, but not one of them seemed completely ideal. The San Francisco Public Works officials weren’t sure which can to distribute amongst the city, so they left the decision to the city’s people. The three prototypes, the “Slim Silhouette”, the “Soft Square”, and the “Salt & Pepper” trash cans were placed throughout the city for a 60-day trial. Citizens can scan a QR code on each trash can, and vote on which one they like best. The new can should be distributed around the city at the beginning of 2023.