These Talking Litter Cans are Getting People’s Attention

The extraordinary bins are the talk of this town.

Renewed docklands urban landscape of Malmo, Sweden.

(Matyas Rehak /

Malmo in Sweden brands itself the “City of Tomorrow” reports CNN. Since 2001, the city’s once dilapidated shipyard, has committed to “cleaning up” its act. Literally. It now boasts clean energy, fresh architecture, bike paths, and buses that run on recycled food waste

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Recently Malmo has unveiled a new green initiative to encourage its citizens to pick up their litter — talking trash cans with a “unique” message that isn’t so “clean” after all.

Picking up litter is a dirty job
Malmo’s two talking trash cans know that picking up garbage means getting dirty. They reward litter depositors with dirty talk. When the talking bins sense trash being thrown inside, they react with innuendos delivered in a sultry voice, reports the New York Post.

The talking bins are getting people talking. According to the chief of Malmo’s roads department, Marie Persson, that is their goal. They are meant to start conversations about keeping Malmo’s streets clean from litter

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“[It’s] a new, humorous way to get across our message,” Persson explained. “The sentences are part of the campaign’s intention to get more people to talk about the dirtiest thing there is: littering. The stuff that ends up in our streets, squares, and sea.”

Talking since 2017
The Metro explains further. Although the sultry voice and the sexy comments delivered by the bin are new, talking trash cans have been a Malmo feature for years. Five years ago, the city ordered 18 “advanced” garbage cans and programmed two to speak. The speaking bins were placed on Davidshallsbron bridge, near the main shopping center.

According to CNN, during the pandemic, these talking trash receptacles thanked people for social distancing. Now, as the Metro reports, they’ve been reprogrammed with a more humorous and “adult” message. The recording apparently features the voice of a famous woman, who prefers to remain anonymous. 

Mixed feedback
As one can imagine, trash bins with sexy voices have stirred up a fair amount of controversy. Critics, like this Quartz reporter, are concerned that the garbage cans, which use exclusively female voices, may be used to objectify women. 

Quartz suggests that Malmo keeps encouraging its residents to keep the streets clean with dirty humor, but swap out the sultry female voice for a gender-neutral one. 

But Persson isn’t taking the bins too seriously. The Metro quotes her explaining that they are intended as  “a positive reinforcement to people who do the right thing, by giving them a laugh.” Malmo’s new bin voices are funny, keep the streets clean, and start serious conversations. What’s not to love about them?

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