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4 December 2019

BetterBin Litter Basket Competition Winner Announced

(December 4, 2019)—Today, the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), Van Alen Institute, the Industrial Designers Society of America and the American Institute of Architects New York announced that Group Project is the winner of the BetterBin Competition.

The BetterBin Competition offered designers an opportunity to reimagine New York City’s iconic green, wire mesh litter basket. Two finalist teams each produced 12 full-size prototype baskets that were tested in three New York City neighborhoods over a 90 day period. The judging panel selected the winner based on prototype performance, public response, and feedback from the Department’s Sanitation Workers.

Produced by the interdisciplinary New York City-based team Group Project, the winning design consists of a light-weight and recyclable liner nested within a durable stand designed to blend in across all New York City neighborhoods. The design received positive feedback from both Sanitation Workers and the public for its sleek esthetic, bold recycling messaging, and significant ergonomic improvements. The interior liner is nearly 50% lighter than the current wire mesh basket, making it easier for Sanitation Workers to service. The liner also features eight comfortable grips for proper lifting compared to only two on the current basket.

“The winning design by the Group Project team demonstrates that design can be a powerful tool to improve working conditions for Sanitation Workers and better engage New Yorkers as our partners to keep the city healthy, safe and clean,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “This is a truly innovative approach, designed for the unique needs of our workforce. We commend the Group Project team for their creativity and look forward to working together to refine the design for large-scale production.”

The winning design prototypes will be placed back into service starting in December 2019 along 5th Avenue between 88th and 92nd streets in Manhattan. The prototypes will replace the green wire mesh baskets currently in those locations. The Group Project team will continue to work with DSNY for further design development to be able to mass-produce the basket and make adjustments based on the learnings from the prototype testing period.

“Group Project is honored to be chosen as the winner of the BetterBin competition. We salute the New York City Department of Sanitation and competition partners for making this commitment to better our city through design,” said Colin P. Kelly, design lead at Group Project. “We are excited to continue the collaboration and to see our litter and recycling bins come to life across NYC.”

“New York City’s streets are the ultimate testing ground for the sleek merger of form and function that this design delivers,” said Deborah Marton, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute. “We’re thrilled to work with the City and Group Project in creating an improved experience for Sanitation Workers and members of the public alike.”

“Congratulations to the Group Project team, whose members have backgrounds in architecture, art, industrial design, and engineering, for developing a design that proves the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations,” said Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director of AIA New York. “We hope to continue working with the City to improve the lives of New Yorkers through the design.”

“IDSA would like to congratulate the Group Project team on their success in the BetterBin Competition and for typifying what great industrial design can be: an elegant solution to a complex challenge and the perfect balance of needs and constraints. We’re looking forward to seeing these bins hit the streets,” said Peter Schon, Chair, IDSA NYC. “We’d also like to express our deep gratitude to the Department of Sanitation for the opportunity to collaborate on this project and hope to continue to find ways to bring great design to New York City in the future.”

“This competition is another example of labor and management working together to better serve the people of New York City,” said Harry Nespoli, President of Teamsters Local 831, the union that represents Sanitation Workers.

“Good design goes beyond beauty to solve problems and help our city function,” said judging panel member Keri Butler, Deputy Executive Director of the Public Design Commission. “By collaborating with design professionals on the BetterBin competition, the Department of Sanitation has made a commendable commitment to serve both the public and sanitation workers through innovative, attractive, and functional design.”

“The winning entry is a great demonstration of how design can improve public services – in this case the worker’s job is made easier, the streetscape is more beautiful, and the unit cost will be low,” said judging panel member Victoria Milne, Principal, 6¢ Design. “The leadership at the Department of Sanitation should be commended for committing to this complex project.”

“The re-design of this iconic trash bin considers its impact on the lives of the multiple ‘users’ that interact with the bin – from the hard working DSNY staff that service the bins to the busy residents of NYC and the photo hungry visitors to the city. Congratulations to team at Group Project for successfully taking on this multidimensional challenge,” said judging panel member and industrial design expert Vijay Chakravarthy. “The competition also left the judges with a unique sense of appreciation for the service rendered by DSNY.”

New York City is home to more than 23,000 litter baskets that offer pedestrians a convenient way to dispose of trash and recycling on the go. The most widespread design—the green, wire mesh basket—dates back to the 1930s The BetterBin Competition offered designers from around the world a chance to envision a new litter basket with a sustainable, environmentally conscious, and ergonomic design that could improve the quality of life for New Yorkers and the service experience for Sanitation Workers.

In December 2018, two finalists were selected by a panel of nine jury members, including industrial design specialists and the President of Teamsters Local 831, the union that represents Sanitation Workers. The finalists worked closely with BetterBin Competition organizers to refine their designs and produce 12 full-size prototypes that were tested in three New York City neighborhoods in summer 2019. The judging panel selected the first-place winner based on prototype performance, public response, and feedback from the Department’s Sanitation Workers.

Judging panel members for the competition included: Keri Butler, Deputy Director, Public Design Commission; Vijay Chakravarthy, Representative, IDSA; Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner, Department of Sanitation; Jeffrey Kapec, Executive Vice President, Tanaka Kapec Design Group and Visiting Professor at Pratt Institute; David van der Leer, Principal, DVDL Design Decisions; Cara McCarty, Curatorial Director, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Victoria Milne, Principal, 6¢ Design; Harry Nespoli, President, Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association; and Heron Preston, Designer.

More information about the BetterBin Competition may be found at www.betterbin.nyc.

About Group Project

Design Team Members: Colin P. Kelly, Brit Kleinman, Brandon Massey, Chris Glaister

Group Project is an interdisciplinary design team passionate about improving the everyday experiences of urban life. Utilizing diverse backgrounds in architecture, art, industrial design, and engineering, we reframe problems and derive innovative solutions for a more sustainable future. Group Project is thrilled to partner with DSNY, Van Alen Institute, IDSA and AIANY on developing a litter basket for New York City that will better serve sanitation workers, modernize our streetscape and change the public’s perceptions and behaviors towards waste—with the goal of achieving zero waste by 2030. Our proposal utilizes modularity, complementary materials, and a NYC-inspired aesthetic to achieve a solution that significantly improves the servicing experience, keeps our streets clean and orderly, and symbolizes a new future for the New York City Department of Sanitation. More information at www.group-project.co

About the New York City Department of Sanitation

The Department of Sanitation keeps New York City healthy, safe and clean by collecting, recycling and disposing of waste, cleaning streets and vacant lots, and clearing snow and ice. The Department operates 59 district garages and manages a fleet of more than 2,000 rear-loading collection trucks, 450 mechanical brooms and 695 salt/sand spreaders. The Department clears litter, snow and ice from approximately 6,500 miles of City streets and removes debris from vacant lots as well as abandoned vehicles from City streets.

About Van Alen Institute

Van Alen is a 125-year-old nonprofit that believes design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. Van Alen collaborates with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, Van Alen develops cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.

About the Industrial Designers Society of America

Founded in 1965, the nonprofit Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is one of the oldest and largest industrial design associations, representing thousands of members in dozens of Student Chapters, Professional Chapters and Special Interest Sections in the United States and internationally. Its mission is to promote the practice of industrial design through education, information, community and advocacy. IDSA sponsors the annual International Design Excellence Awards® (IDEA), the world’s most prestigious and rigorous design competition. The Society hosts events including an annual International Design Conference, five District Design Conferences and niche conferences, bringing together some of the biggest names and brightest minds in industrial design and related fields.

About AIA New York

AIA New York is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects with more than 5,600 members. To fulfill its goals of design excellence, public outreach, and professional development, the chapter organizes initiatives, programs and exhibitions that explore topics vital to the profession, including housing, planning, historic preservation, and urban design. AIA New York shares a home with the Center for Architecture, the premier cultural venue for architecture and the built environment in New York City. In 2017, the Center for Architecture published the Zero Waste Design Guidelines, a resource developed in collaboration with the AIANY Committee on the Environment and with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, to help designers, building operators, and planners reduce waste and increase diversion rates for recyclables.

Additional Media Contacts

NYC Department of Sanitation: Belinda Mager, pressoffice@dsny.nyc.gov, (646) 885-5020

Industrial Designers Society of America: Leah Pickett, LeahP@idsa.org, (703) 707-6000 ext. 105

AIA New York: Camila Schaulsohn, cschaulsohn@aiany.org, (212) 358-6114