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Expensive San Francisco prototype garbage can already appears trashed

Expensive San Francisco prototype garbage can already appears trashed
Expensive San Francisco prototype garbage can already appears trashed 02:45

SAN FRANCISCO -- When San Francisco rolled out its three new trash can prototypes, people gasped at the cost with the price tag for developing just one of the models adding up to tens of thousands of dollars. 

Now, pictures are circulating of one of those cans, already in sad shape. It's a $20,000 question: how will these trashcan prototypes withstand the forces at work on the sidewalks of San Francisco. 

ALSO READ: What takes years and costs $20,000? A San Francisco trash can

At Ocean and Plymouth, some early evidence indicates one of the prototypes is already showing some signs of serious wear.

Trashed SF garbage can prototype
Trashed SF garbage can prototype. CBS

"I feel like, for its cost, there should be so many malfunctions," said an SF resident named Nikolai, examining the pried-open can. "I mean, it looks a little disorderly."

A bit of a mess on one side, and unhinged on the other, this "Soft Square" prototype -- the priciest expensive of the models being tested at $20,900 -- did not fare well against some kind of challenge. In fact, it's not looking much better than the old model still sitting just across the street.

MORE INFO: Website for San Francisco public trash can pilot program

"With this can, we sent our crews out to look at it," said Rachel Gordon with San Francisco Public Works. "We got a couple inquiries about it, 'Oh here's this expensive can, it's already broken.' OK. We want to see why it's broken. Is it someone seeing what they can do to break a can? Is it normal wear and tear on the can? If that's all, we don't want to use these hinges."

Gordeon says what's unfolding is the idea; Seeing how the designs fare against whatever is thrown at them.

"I was out today in the Mission District where there is a can with graffiti," Gordon explained. "Because all the cans are going to get graffiti, I'm sad to say that, but they will."

And as they learn which parts of which designs work or don't work, they can build a better can.

"We then can see what's the best of," Gordon said. "And take bits and pieces of a garbage can."

So this is kicking the tires on the cans. The city even has QR codes and a website for public feedback. And as for the big price tags on developing the prototypes, those will not be the final cost.

"We are hopeful, when we pick a design, unless it's an off-the-shelf model, we're looking at probably $2,000 to $3,000 each can," Gordon said. "Which is in the range for garbage cans."

The first 30-day test deployment of the prototype cans is about to wrap up. When that is over, they will all be taken away and then installed at second test locations for another 30 days. So this will go on for a bit, and residents could still see them in their neighborhood for a test period. And yes, the city is looking for public feedback.

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