Trash cans San Francisco may buy have $20,000 price tags

This story originally appeared on CBS San Francisco.

San Francisco's Department of Public Works wants to replace 3,000 existing green trash cans with bigger and better-looking ones. The prototype being considered would cost taxpayers about $20,000 per can as of now.

"It's insane. Insane," said one San Francisco resident.

Too often, residents say, trash put into cans end up on sidewalks.

"They go looking for drugs. They go looking for things to recycle. In the neighborhood I live in, they bust them open, pull things out. Sometimes they get too full," said another city resident, Isaac Stevens.

Sleeker bins with sensors alerting crews when they're almost full would be more tamper-resistant, block rodents out and keep sidewalks cleaner, officials said.

Matt Haney, of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has reservations.

"$20,000 a can is ridiculous," said Haney.

The costly cans even have designer names like the "Salt and Pepper," "Slim Silhouette," and the "Soft Square," which all feature roll-out liners or toters that can be mechanically lifted instead of manually taken out.

"Why are we still doing this? Rather than putting out a bunch of different cans that are already produced, that are much cheaper?" asked Haney.

The Department of Public Works installed 3,000 of the green cans in the 1990s. Even they admit the $20,000 price tag is expensive for a prototype but promise the cost will go down once it's mass-produced.

"I want us to be, frankly, the model for other cities. Portland, New York, Sydney, wherever it is across the world, to take our cans or to try to model their cans after ours," said Department of Public Works acting Director Alaric Degrafinried.

The plan is to test the three models this fall, then choose the final trash can possibly early next year and get a final cost.

DPW says the price would be about $4,000 per can once it's mass-produced.

An existing green trash can recently purchased by the Department of Public Works costs a little over $1,200.

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