A man throws away a watermelon rind in a new high-tech garbage can at the UN Plaza Farmers Market on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. Five of the garbage cans are in place around UN Plaza as part of a pilot project from San Francisco Public Works. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

High-tech trash bins arrive at Civic Center

Six new, high-tech garbage bins landed at UN Plaza Wednesday morning.

No, not the Bigbelly bins that have made appearances in the Castro, paid for by Community Benefit Districts funds.

Manufactured by Bigbelly competitor PEL Waste Reduction Equipment, the six PEL120SSB Solar Street Bins are part of a six-month pilot program by the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

Rachel Gordon, a department spokesperson, said the new bins are designed to prevent vandalism and are much more difficult to pry open to sift through, which often results in a messy pile of trash parked next to the existing concrete bins.

“One of the problems we’ve seen is people rummaging through looking for bottles,” Gordon said. “They’re going to make it much more difficult, we hope, to break into the cans.”

Like the Bigbelly bins, the new bins feature internal trash compactors and send wireless alerts when they’re nearly full. Alerts are also sent if someone manages to break in, or if the door is accidentally left open after crews empty them, Gordon said.

Each bin costs just under $1,000 for six months, with the vendor picking up the tab for maintenance.

Gordon said DPW will examine the bins over the next six months to evaluate effectiveness, wear and tear before making a decision to expand the pilot program or not.

“We’re not anywhere near that decision at this point,” she said. “But if they do well in San Francisco, they can probably do well anywhere. We can be rough on our garbage cans.”

In the next month, DPW will be rolling out another model of smart garbage bins at a location that has yet to be finalized, Gordon said.

DPW also recently had success with a pilot program that installed sensors in 48 of the existing garbage bins. The sensors sent alerts when they were 70 percent full.

“We saw in the test pilot that incidents of overflow were way reduced,” Gordon said. “We’re in the process of expanding that to 1,000 cans.”

DPW maintains approximately 3,500 bins throughout The City.

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