Ikon for City of Malmö

A lot goes into your everyday waste bins


In 2014 this story began with a competition between three local design agencies, competing for Malmö Stad (City of Malmö) and its new city waste bins. All requirements was fulfilled by the winning Zenit Design proposal ‘’Ikon’’, offering solutions for rat and bird-proofing, ergonomic routines for sanitation workers and beyond.


By walking the footsteps of a sanitation worker in a waste bin-safari, new information setting the foundation for the project was discovered and by placing prototypes in their natural environment, studies of behaviour, expected and unexpected events was conducted.


A range of three timeless and personally customized waste bins for the city of Malmö, designed focusing on sanitation worker ergonomy and sustainability. Over 100 bins can be found around the city and in the end, a total of 4000 bins will be continuously installed by the design patent owner Malmö Stad.

What is a waste bin safari?

As mentioned, this story began in 2014 with a competition between three Malmö-based agencies. The original mission was to create bins that was good for the people using them such as maintaining staff and to eliminate the risk of birds and rats accessing waste inside. The purpose of a waste bin is simple, however behind the scenes, it is far more complicated. To get into that world, a visit to a waste bin safari was made where our designers shadowed sanitation workers to discover honest and real issues. When researching for the Ikon proposals it became clear more features than tasked could be implemented in the design.

The urban room

Everything have to fall into place when realising a harmonic functioning product for general places. The products need to be visually appealing, sustainable and practical efficient in order to be well received and used by everyone. Through a user-centric process we find the How. In our common urban space it’s not only good looks that matters, the products also needs to address usage. Where do I toss my waste, how and why? What happens after, who will transport and empty it?


A talking product and the people

Attraction in this case not only concerns appearances but also sustainability. Everyone should be able to stand behind their City’s products and systems with pride. To ensure citizen support, we ask:

- What does the product say about how we treat the location, environment and the people?

By using thoroughly selected materials we eliminate expected damage. All metal is hot galvanised and the iconic color ‘’Malmö Green’’ is surface treated for durability and to  facilitate graffiti removal. This kind of treatment also solve the issue of corrosive dog urine. The rainproof lid prevents water-filled garbage bags, which creates unnecessary heavy lifting for sanitation workers.

The bins are prepared for a sensor system for future implementation. The sensor is placed in the lid and detects when the bin is full and emptying is due. The sanitation worker will then know for sure which bins to empty, resulting in removal of unnecessary energy - regarding both the workers and the environment.

Smart solution for sneaky rats and ergonomics

As a result of the new public smoking law, cigarette littering have increased. Except materials, the bins provide sustainability solutions with the built-in ashtray and bottle recycling tube. The easy access ashtray is placed inside the lid and catches cigarettes and ash on metal to prevent fires. With a smart magnet the tray is easily opened and emptied by sanitation workers.

A big issue with the current waste bins was rats and birds getting inside, looting and bringing waste out. From early prototyping we found out rats used textured walls to climb. Rat-climbing is now prevented with a non-perforated surface which also comes with the advantage of easier cleaning. The unique layered bottom works as a security lock for rats trying to sneak in from the ground.

The most prioritised mission to complete was making the bins stakeholder friendly. All involved from start to finish should have a good experience interacting with the bins - in every way. As seen in the video further down, the bin opens and empties horizontally to reduce heavy lifting for sanitation workers, preventing back injuries, and all edges are rounded to protect people from accidentally cutting themselves on the job.

Malmö Stad ❥ Zenit Design

Malmö Stad has become one of the most visited Cities in Scandinavia, consisting of various environments, ranging from large jugend-inflicted parks to big city areas with modern architecture. One of the challenges was to create a family of bins that could go into these different places. With new colour-choices, they can be individually customised depending on the desired features and environment to always harmonise with the surroundings -   without compromising the series touch.

Malmö Stad has a consistent responsibility to preserve and maintain a well functioning and inspiring urban space for its visitors and citizens. With our methods and input we met all these needs and beyond, made maintenance easier and guided our client to strategic economic solutions. By owning the production as advised, Malmö Stad will reduce the total product cost by 50%.

Conceptual 3D render
Conceptual 3D render


A timeless and modern range of Waste bins that facilitate ergonomically for sanitation workers and the general public to maintain clean streets. The range consists of three models, all with the same structure, creating a strong connection between them.

A waste bin is not something that’s usually referred to as attractive, by natural causes. It’s supposed to function everywhere without sticking out or interfere with set surroundings. The new but timeless bin now exists in harmony with all different elements; nature, city and even ocean.

A total of 4000 bins will be continuously installed by the design patent owner Malmö Stad.

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Want to know more?
Get in touch with:
Stina Hallström
Senior Surface Modeler
+46 765 42 22 07
Want to know more?
Get in touch with:
Stina Hallström
Senior Surface Modeler
+46 765 42 22 07
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