For almost 90 years, the design of New York City's recognizably green, wire-meshed litter baskets has barely changed. But soon, they'll get a major upgrade. In July 2019, the BetterBin Design Competition is set to reveal the winning design of a more functional, clean, ergonomic and sustainable wastebasket that will improve the quality of life for NYC residents and the sanitation workers who service them. In mid-June, the finalists' prototypes will be unveiled and deployed to the streets.
This time last summer, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) announced BetterBin's launch, in partnership with Van Alen Institute, American Institute of Architects New York and IDSA. Peter Schon, IDSA, Chair of IDSA's NYC Chapter, has partnered with DSNY on the design and administration of the competition. Vijay Chakravarthy, IDSA, Northeast District Chapter Representative, is on the judging panel. Warren Ginn, FIDSA serves on the technical review advisory board, which advises the jury on manufacturing feasability.
The two remaining design teams are Group Project and Smart Design. Selected by the judging panel after they reviewed nearly 200 submissions from an open call, the finalists refined their designs to produce full-size prototypes that they will test in New York City neighborhoods this summer. Following the testing period, the jury will select a first-place winner based on prototype performance, public response and feedback from DSNY's sanitation workers. The winner will be eligible to contract with the city for further design development.
Schon and representatives from Group Project and Smart Design will present the story of BetterBin at the International Design Conference (IDC) in Chicago this August. Schon says he has found reasons to be optimistic about the future of sustainability over the past year. Moreover, he wants to motivate other industrial designers to figure out how they can solve industrial design problems in their communities.
"I think there is a public acceptance that we need to change the way that we’re living, and I think that presents a lot of opportunities for design," Schon says. "My interest is in telling the story of the competition but also in encouraging people to find ways to get design to have a seat at the table in their own communities, because there are ways to get involved with your local government and make an impact."
IDC 2019 will feature talks on sustainable design, environmental consciousness and designing for positive social impact, among other relevant topics for designers across disciplines. The conference experience also will include design workshops, studio tours, breakout sessions, an Education Symposium and so much more.