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11 December 2018

BetterBin Design Competition Finalists Announced

Media Contacts: Van Alen Institute: Sarah Haun,, 212-924-7000 x12; NYC Department of Sanitation: Belinda Mager,, 646-885-5020; Industrial Designers Society of America: Nicole Cox,; AIA New York: Camila Schaulsohn,, 212-358-6114

Three Finalists to Create Prototypes of Litter Basket Designs for Testing on City Streets

NEW YORK, December 11, 2018 — The NYC Department of Sanitation, Van Alen Institute, and the Industrial Designers Society of America / American Institute of Architects New York have announced the three finalists in their BetterBin competition. The competition offered designers an opportunity to reimagine New York City’s iconic green wire litter basket.

The three finalist design teams are: Group Project (Colin P. Kelly), IONDESIGN GmbH Berlin, and Smart Design.

After each design team completes the contract registration process, they will work closely with the competition coordinators to refine their designs and produce 12 full-size prototypes that will be tested in New York City neighborhoods in summer 2019.

New York City is home to more than 23,000 litter baskets that offer pedestrians a convenient way to dispose of refuse and recycling on the go. The most widespread design—the green, wire-mesh basket—dates to the 1930s. While iconic to the streets of New York, the wire basket is in need of a redesign to address the current and future waste needs of the City. 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.

“While residents and visitors may be familiar with the iconic green city litter basket, there is no shortage of fresh new ideas to modernize and reinvent it for the future. We were thrilled to receive nearly 200 submissions from around the world,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “The BetterBin team is excited to announce the finalists for the competition and we look forward to testing the prototypes in 2019.”

“With three firms able to come up with strong ideas for the redesign of a nearly 90-year-old fixture of the New York cityscape, this project is a reminder of how important it is to revisit even the most enduring designs against evolving user needs,” said Jessica Lax, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Van Alen Institute. “We look forward to the field tests this spring and hearing from the public and sanitation workers on the best fit for our ever-changing city.”

“We’ve been stunned by the immense response to the competition and the enthusiasm from the design community in taking on this challenge. While there were a number of strong and innovative concepts, the three finalists really stood out for their ability to effectively balance a very difficult set of design criteria,” said Peter Schon, Chair, IDSA NYC. “They applied a diverse range of approaches to ergonomics, aesthetics and manufacturing methods. Of course, the proof is in the pudding, so we’re very excited to move onto the prototyping stage.”

“The finalists of the Better Bin competition have proposed innovative, functional and attractive designs that have taken something as mundane as a sidewalk litter bin and turned it into an element of urban design that enhances NYC’s streetscape,” said Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director AIA New York Chapter. “At a time when the city is increasing its recycling and composting efforts, and has set a goal to drastically reduce waste, it is important to draw attention to how and where we dispose of our waste.”

Each finalist will receive $40,000, which includes an award and funding to produce full-scale prototype baskets for testing out on New York City streets. Prototype testing will take place in summer 2019 and will be accompanied by a public opinion survey. After the testing period, the judging panel will select a first-place winner based on prototype performance, public response, and feedback from the Department’s Sanitation Workers. The winner will be eligible to contract with the City for further design development to ensure the ability to mass-produce the basket at a reasonable cost, as well as refine technical issues.

More information about the BetterBin competition may be found on Van Alen’s site here or DSNY’s site.

About the finalists:

Group Project (Colin P. Kelly) 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 AIA 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

IONDESIGN GmbH Berlin Design Team Members: Anja Götz, Christoph Fleckenstein, Tom Ruthenberg, Martin Binder, Christina Schäfer, Dario Zadra, Annika Rauch, Amir Reza Ameli

IONDESIGN’s interdisciplinary work spreads across product, public, graphic, web, packaging, exhibition and interior design to architecture. We treat graphics, objects and spaces in an integrative manner. For us, there are no boundaries between the design disciplines. Our products and buildings equally serve daily use. Their purpose becomes recognizable in their shape. Our approach is aimed at longevity and continuous improvement of the ergonomic, technical, economic, cultural and aesthetic functions, which opens up an immeasurable creative potential. 2018 is the year of our 25th anniversary. IONDESIGN was founded in 1993 in Berlin by Anja Götz and Christoph Fleckenstein. Today we are eight team members from various backgrounds who combine their skills to track down the ideal design solution for every task. IONDESIGN’s has been honored with numerous international awards: among them RedDot, iF, FOCUS, German Design Award, GOOD DESIGN Award Japan, GOOD DESIGN Award of the Chicago Athenaeum. More information at

Smart Design Design Team Members: Davin Stowell, James Krause, Dan Grossman, Edward Laganis, Meegan Daigler, Albert Kwak, Grayson Hild

Founded in 1980, Smart is a strategic design company based in New York and London. We believe in designing with people, and for people, to create a smarter and more sustainable world. With a rich heritage in humanizing emerging technologies, and unique expertise in bridging the physical and digital, our fundamental goal remains the same: make experiences more intuitive, enjoyable and relevant. From redesigning the New York Taxi to launching category-defining products and services for clients such as Ford, PepsiCo, OXO, Sephora and Samsung, our multi-disciplinary design experts continue to create solutions to our clients’ toughest challenges. More information at

About the New York City Department of Sanitation

The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) 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 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.