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The Cans

Three custom designs and three off-the-shelf models will be part of the prototype testing this summer. There will be five cans of each custom design and three to four cans each of the off-the-shelf models, for a total of 26 cans. These 26 cans will be dispersed across the City in a variety of places, including business districts, busy intersections and bus stops, neighborhood streets and downtown. A map of locations is available on this trash can website. The cans will be installed at the first set of locations for 30 days, then moved to 26 new locations to be tested for an additional 30 days.

Custom Cans

In 2020, Public Works, in collaboration with Bay Area industrial designers at the Institute for Creative Integration (ICI), narrowed the design of the City’s new public trash cans to three final concepts. Most recently, APROE, a San Francisco-based product and manufacturing firm, has transformed these conceptual designs into 15 prototypes that can be tested on the street.

In September 2020, members of the public had the opportunity to weigh in on the three custom designs in advance of design presentations at the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Civic Design Review panel and the Historic Preservation Commission. More than 350 online surveys were collected, and the three custom designs were approved by the Arts Commission – greenlighting the next step in the process.

Salt & Pepper

Salt& Pepper’s unique profile stands out from afar, easily distinguishable for someone looking to discard items. The silhouette denotes two separate refuse areas, with cans and bottles for redemption exchange above and regular trash below. Steel fins welded to ribs give Salt & Pepper a durable frame as well as providing visibility for security and deterrence to graffiti. A shroud minimizes the size of items capable of being discarded, discouraging oversized, obstructive items. The bold form also communicates the city’s efforts to usher in a new, cleaner era on the streets of San Francisco.

Salt & Pepper

Slim Silhouette

Slim Silhouette’s slim side profile allows more space on the sidewalks for people to move about freely while clearly presenting discard options on the front face for trash and recycle exchange. This single-sided access and the chute-shaped trash opening make rummaging more difficult so more trash stays inside. The trash and recycling openings have a generously rounded bevel inviting people in. The stainless steel pipe construction ensures longer lasting beauty with easier cleanability and less flat surface for graffiti. 

Slim Silhouette

Soft Square

Soft Square keeps an identifiable trash can silhouette while bringing the aesthetic into the 21st century. Designed as a kit of parts, Soft Square is comprised of four curved panels, an adjustable base and a domed top. Intentional gap separations between the panels allow for an elegant integration of components including the handle, foot pedal and hinge. Openings for the trash and bottles/cans are behind the front hopper door giving the design a clean appearance. The hopper design also makes it extremely difficult for over filling and rummaging. The stainless steel construction can be customized through different perforation patterns.

Soft Square

Off-the-shelf Models

During the upcoming testing, the three custom designs will be augmented by three off-the-shelf models. These models were chosen by Public Works with consideration to the design criteria, past experience on San Francisco streets and cost.


The BearSaver can accommodate a custom-made vinyl graphic design on its four vertical sides. A recycling receptacle can be added to the side of the can. This can is manufactured by Securr.

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Bear Saver

Ren Bin

The Ren Bin is manufactured by Victor Stanley.

The Ren Bin

Open Wire Mesh

This can is manufactured by Global Industries.

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Open Wire Mesh
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