Register: SEP/20/2018, Submit: SEP/20/2018, Eligibility: Architects, landscape architects, planners, urban designers, industrial designers, engineers, artists, manufacturers, students; individually, (multidisciplinary) teams up to 4 members (recommended, but is not limited), Fee: Free, Awards: Up to 3 finalists 40,000 USD each to produce prototypes
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 – he green, wire-mesh basket – is affordable, easy to service and has remained largely unchanged since the 1930’s. 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.