Since the Central Park Conservancy installed 700 new trash cans in New York’s 843-acre "backyard" last fall, only one group of long-standing residents has protested the change: the rodents.
Those objections appear to have fallen on deaf ears, as the elegant receptacles continue to win plaudits. This week the Cannes International Festival of Creativity recognized Landor Associates, the firm that designed the bins, by awarding the project one of its inaugural Product Design Lions.
"The team took inspiration from elements already in the park to create something exceptionally beautiful, functional, and essential to the surroundings," Lois Jacobs, Landor CEO, said in a statement. "We’re honored that the judges understood our vision for this work."
The project is composed of three different types of bins, each 100% recyclable and made of aircraft-grade aluminum with a powder coat finish. Aluminum slats on the exterior of the bins—narrowly spaced, to keep out rats and squirrels—represent an angular riff on the beloved park benches that line Central Park’s walkways, first designed by ironmonger Kevin Lynch for the 1939 World’s Fair in Corona Park, Queens. Color-coding and other visual cues, such as the spiral "vortex" shape of the lid, encourage park visitors to sort trash, bottles and cans, and paper into the correct receptacle.
Central Park Conservancy leaders embarked on the project in 2012 with the goal of reducing the park’s waste and rodent population, thanks to $500,000 from the Alcoa Foundation, the charitable division of aluminum-maker Alcoa, Inc. So far, recycling is up 35%, bringing the recyclables collected each year to within the 80 to 90 tons conservancy leaders set as their initial goal.
Plus, Landor Associates says that those trash-loving rodents have been notably absent. Is it too much to hope that a redesign of the subway platform bins could be next?