2-week group design challenge on redesigning the trash bin system in Times Square to encourage & enable people to dispose garbage correctly.






How might we make the trash bins in Times Square encourage & enable people to dispose of garbage correctly?


14 days, each one counts


Treasure insights from trash inside

Research Strategies

Trasher hunt

Prototype and Testing

Verify by elements

During the prototype process, to improve the efficiency of testing, I first defined the design elements which need to be tested: Iconography, opening, and bin arrangement, and conducted corresponding experiments to validate the reliability of each of these designs.

Key Functions

What's new?

Relevant Signage & Iconography

Many trash bins in Times Square currently use conventional symbols to represent the categories of recyclable materials, such as newspapers for paper trash. We replace these traditional symbols with common types of trash in Times Square to make the experience of disposing of garbage more intuitive. Additionally, we incorporate lines as design language to match the design system of Times Square.

Intuitive Visual Grouping

We created a more obvious visual distinction by adding a 20-degree tilt to the non-recyclable trash bin as well as used the official colors for different types of garbage in New York City to differentiate among different trash bins. Additionally, we designed signage on the back of the trash bins using the visual language of Times Square to ensure that tourists can spot the trash bins from different angles.

Interactive Light Response Powered by Solar Panel

The trash bin has built-in LED strips on its opening to address the issue of low visibility of the trash bin at night in areas with low brightness and complex surrounding lighting conditions. To answer the call of sustainability, the interactive light response function is powered by solar energy from solar panels on the top of the bins. The solar panels are reused from the existing trash bins to minimize the carbon emission.

Brand Partnerships

Current trash bins in times square are covered with advertisements, hindering visitors from properly recognizing trash bins. A creative, yet practical solution would be to have consumer goods companies such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, Lay’s, etc. advertise on these bins, showcasing that empty containers and packaging from their products should be disposed here. Additionally, it would also be a great way to keep the bins updated and welcoming by collaborating with the artists from NYC’s Department of Sanitation to display tasteful and relevant art pieces about littering avoidance and recycling promotion.


Time for Squaresort in Times Square


A better bin

In the testing phase, 90% of the participants successfully placed recyclable garbage into the correct bins without any reminders and expressed satisfaction with the new design features of trash bin system for Times Square.

Future Steps

Into the reality

Human would love our design and so might them (rats)

  • According to feedback from our stakeholders, in the next step, we need to further address the issue of preventing rodents.