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Smart Trash Cans Installed In San Francisco's Tenderloin Neighborhood

Tenderloin SF

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit San Francisco in early March, the Tenderloin has seen a nearly 300 percent increase of homeless residents. 

Many were forced out of homeless shelters after capacity was limited due to social distancing guidelines. With more people on the streets, trash levels have gotten out of hand. 


In May, the mayor’s office introduced a plan to address safety concerns in the neighborhood within a few months. That included removal of tents and increased street powerwashing. This week, the “BigBelly” trash cans became part of the effort. 


On Monday, San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney announced the installation of 68 smart trash cans into the Tenderloin neighborhood. Haney said the project aims to provide the Tenderloin with the same amenities as any other San Francisco district. 


Haney says “This is something that residents have been asking for for a long time and something I’ve prioritized in last year’s budget. To make sure that, in general, you shouldn’t have to walk block after block and not even see a trash can. And often the trash cans that you do see, are broken or have trash pulled out of it.”


The “BigBelly” trash cans hold 5 times the volume of regular city cans. The new cans also collect data to streamline pickup services, saving the city money on collection long term. Haney says each unit costs between one thousand and fifteen hundred dollars a year. 


Last week, the city settled a lawsuit regarding the sanitation and safety of the streets requiring a reduction in tent occupancy of seventy percent by July 20th. 

Originally from the East Bay, Vivian began working in radio at KZSC in Santa Cruz. After KZSC she hosted a show at New York radio station Radio Free Brooklyn, covering artists and art local to NYC. As a KALW intern, she works on news and stories local the Bay Area. Outside of the radio station, she loves to visit galleries and museums and go on hikes.