The trash-can saga drones on over at the Department of Public Works, and today we learn the results of that survey they ran seeking public opinion on six waste receptacle designs being considered.
It's funny-sad that we are still talking about this, and amid a global pandemic and the imminent threat of nuclear conflict with Russia, San Francisco's Department of Public Works is still tackling a years-long project to pick out a new trash can to put on the city's streets.
SFist alerted you a couple weeks ago that the deadline was approaching for survey responses from the public, and DPW had scattered copies of the six models being considered all around the city for real-world "testing." Three of these are custom jobs, fabricated by Hirschfeld Fabrications in Alameda and designed by ICI (Institute for Creative Integration) at great expense to the city. And three are off-the-shelf, basic trash cans in use in other cities, for comparison.
As we learned back in July 2021, this boondoggle of a project had a $537,000 price tag, and that's before any trash cans get replicated and put into use — that cost was for the design and fabrication of 15 prototypes, purchase of off-the-shelf models, and management of the project.
The three, steel-sided custom jobs were dubbed "Slim Silhouette," "Salt & Pepper," and "Soft Square" in reference to their shapes. And the three other models put out to test were called "Open Wire Mesh," "BearSaver," and "Ren Bin." Suffice it to say, the latter two are hideous, and the "Open Wire Mesh" can is just what it sounds like, and if that piece of shit gets chosen it will make this boondoggle all the more hilarious/sad.
As the Chronicle reports, via the summary of the 1,000 or so survey responses from DPW, the trash-tossing public liked the Slim Silhouette and Salt & Pepper cans about equally, among the custom models — each got 23% to 25% saying they "loved" the designs, but the Slim Silhouette got somewhat more "It's Okay" responses than the Salt & Pepper, 31% vs. 20%. When asked about their overall look and shape, the Slim Silhouette got the highest rating with 50% of respondents saying they liked it.
Upsettingly, the can that got the most "I love it" responses was the BearSaver, which is just a bland box that has an open-and-shut mouth with a handle like a mailbox. 32% of respondents "loved" this thing.
The BearSaver can, which is manufactured by Securr, can "accommodate a custom-made vinyl graphic design on its four vertical sides," as DPW tells the Chronicle, and "a recycling receptacle can be added to the side of the can." It would defeat the purpose of going through this years-long process to design and fabricate something custom that can handle both a trash and a recycling bin inside, giving us just a hulking box with another box slapped on the side of it, but sure, people! Vote for that.
On the question of overall look, only 27% of respondents liked the BearSaver, but 41% liked that it is "easy to use."
Anyway, this is far from over, and DPW collected a variety opinions on the trash cans besides just their overall look. People also commented on whether they had trash collecting around them, indicated that they either fill up too fast or their trash openings don't make for easy tossing. When it comes to ease of use, people of course gave high marks to the "Open Wire Mesh" model, which... jesus.
At least with the array of questions and responses, the team at Public Works can pretty much pick any of the models (except the very hideous "Ren Bin") and come up with a justification for their choice. It's not like any of them seem to be runaway hits with the public.
And one survey respondent said it best: "Just fucking pick one and stop wasting time and money."