December 4, 2019
by AIA New York
Group Project's winning design for the BetterBin competition. Image courtesy of DSNY.
Group Project's winning design for the BetterBin competition. Image courtesy of DSNY.
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Group Project with the winning design for the BetterBin competition. Image courtesy of DSNY.
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Group Project team giving remarks at the announcement event. Image credit: Center for Architecture.
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DSNY sanitation worker demonstrates garbage pick-up with Group Project's design. Image credit: Center for Architecture.

AIA New York, in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), the Van Alen Institute, and the Industrial Designers Society of America, is proud to announce that Group Project has been named the winner of the BetterBin competition.

BetterBin offered designers an opportunity to reimagine New York City’s iconic green, wire mesh litter basket, which has remained largely unchanged since the 1930s. While litter basket refuse accounts for less than 2 percent of NYC’s waste, the presence of a litter basket on almost every highly-trafficked corner helps shape our attitudes and behaviors around waste. Designers were challenged to design a practical and efficient litter basket for the City that reduces litter and better serves DSNY’s sanitation workers and the public alike.

Group Project‘s winning design consists of a lightweight, ergonomic, 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 aesthetic, bold recycling messaging, and significant ergonomics improvements. The design has an interior liner that is nearly 50% lighter compared to the current wire mesh bin. The liner is also ergonomically superior, with 8 comfortable grips for proper lifting compared to only two on the current design.

“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 DSNY 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.”

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, they reframe problems and derive innovative solutions for a more sustainable future.

“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.”

Winning design prototypes will be placed back into service starting in December 2019 in Manhattan along 5th Avenue between 88th and 92nd Streets, replacing the green wire mesh baskets currently in those locations. Group Project will continue to work with the City for further design development to ensure the ability to mass produce the basket and make adjustments based on feedback received during the testing period.

“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, Assoc. AIA, Executive Director of AIA New York and the Center for Architecture. “We hope to continue working with the City to improve the lives of New Yorkers through the design.”

See previous coverage of the winning design prototypes here.


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