Mayor's Office on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs

Designed to Dump


An intelligent waste system for smarter city cleanup was piloted in DC––a joint effort between the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA), the DowntownDC Business Improvement District, and the Maryland-based company Victor Stanley. This program, which debuted in Chinatown, installed “smart trashcans”––equipped with sensors––in certain areas of the District. We partnered with MOAPIA to build an aesthetic for the trashcans in Chinatown and adorn them with visually pleasing designs, thereby bringing greater attention to this intelligent waste program.


Can trash be attractive? This question guided us as we embarked on this project. As the program was to debut in Chinatown, we drew inspiration from this urban setting for our design concept. We built the look for the smart trashcans––from the red of the container itself to the Chinese dragon placed on a blue and gold pattern––around the design elements in the Chinatown friendship gates, embodying Chinese culture and the historical significance of the Chinatown neighborhood in DC. The pilot program debuted with 34 garbage cans in Chinatown, stationed along several thoroughfares and easily distinguishable thanks to their decorative exteriors.

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