TrashBack Design Competition

TrashBack - Rewards for Rubbish


There aren’t enough positive adjectives to describe how great an idea TrashBack is. The incentivised recycling initiative aims (and is succeeding) to clean, uplift and empower informal settlement communities through its uphinda-phindo! project. Facing close to non-existant waste management, members of these communities are asked to bring in recyclables to the TrashBack uphinda-phindo! stations in their areas in exchange for rewards.


TrashBack is currently working in Imizamo Yethu (IY) in Hout Bay with local NPO Thrive. The video says it all, take a look:




In order to fund the rewards, TrashBack has started a 2nd hand clothing collection. The donated clothes are resold (at significantly reduced cost) to local community vendors. At the moment, TrashBack is using orange wheelie bins for the clothing collections, but would really like to spice up the design and make sure these bins aren’t mistaken for rubbish bins. This is where you come in:


For their UrBin Design Competition, TrashBack are accepting submissions for bin designs. All entries will go through a selection process. The top 3 designs need to be implemented by the designers as they compete for 3 grand prizes –


  1. Aquila game reserve overnight safari.
    A night away for two adults in a 4-star luxury chalet, welcome drinks, 3 meals and
    2 game drives.
  2. Old Mac Daddy retreat.
    A night away for two at this luxury trailer park in Elgin, surrounded by orchards, vineyards, frog-song ponds and dusty mountain-bike roads.
  3. Sampleboard subscription.
    1 year’s PRO subscription to an amazing online digital mood-board editor, valued at over R2000!


There are also some awesome spot prizes throughout the comp, the first being tickets to RAMFest CT and the other 2 to still be announced. Excited to get involved yet?


Find the brief HERE.


Read more about TrashBack HERE.


And give them a follow on Facebook HERE.



  1. An admirable project. But, design competition? Ugh.

  2. @coda: Thanks for the compliments. I’m sorry that you have reservations against design competitions, may I ask why?

  3. @drew: Various reasons. Others have said it best: design is not a competitive sport. It is highly devaluing and insulting to the design industry as a whole, and unethical to assume that designers will provide their professional skill without compensation. Is a designers time and effort only worthwhile if their work is selected?

    A design contest will not provide you with a long-term solution. You’re much better off hiring a committed designer who is passionate about your project and can help you realise your goals through a client-designer relationship established on trust and respect.

    Design is not free and your competition is giving that impression to everyone involved.

  4. @coda Unfortunately this is the world we live in where only chosen thinking / designs are rewarded with payment or other forms of renumeration. As an agency we have been involved in pitches where great IP is given “for free” and we only get renumerated if the agency’s ideas are chosen by the client. We have all seen blood, sweat and tears given by creative teams and then nothing comes from it. It is unfortunauitely the nature of our game, is it not?

  5. @Charisse: Yes, but that doesn’t make it right.

  6. I agree completely. Our industry and how it has evolved to really turn against the creative spirit e.g. how do you justify your cost when you have anyone with a Mac who is willing to sell a logo for R500 – this kind of price war has destroyed the credibility of the industry and the true creatives out there. We have a long battle on our hands to fight our way back from this.

  7. @coda: Thank you for your reply, your points have been noted. They are, however based on one assumption: that we have the ability to hire a designer.

    Currently all the income generated through running of TrashBack goes back into the community. The five people working with myself, are currently providing our professional skills without any form of compensation, and wouldn’t dare take any anything out of the community until our project is sustaining itself. Therefore hiring a designer is out of the question.

    So we had to come up with creative ways to address the design of our clothing collection bins. A competition provides a solution with incentive for the participants, while at very little cost to us. May I point out that the value of our first prize is sufficient to cover the design work itself, and we are giving out further prizes. Being a competition, participation is completely voluntary, and is actually a good chance for designers to showcase their work as we will be posting their designs online.

    Competitive design is a process that ensures the quality of design is kept high and is supposed to celebrate and promote designers ability! Just like in any competition whether it be for sports, music or art; talent and ideas are shared with the world and the best are praised! Lets focus our attention on all the incredible creative talent we have in Cape Town and how they can help our admirable initiative!

    We always appreciate feedback, advice and help! If you would like to contact us directly our email is

  8. @drew: Thanks for the clarification. I disagree on most points.

    “Competitive design is a process that ensures the quality of design is kept high and is supposed to celebrate and promote designers ability!”

    Excluding those that take away the prizes, in general terms, there are no winners in design contests. Ability is not something to be rewarded – we are not jumping through hoops, vying for superiority or popular vote. Ability is the result of hard work, which is to be compensated for accordingly.

    The reward for any self-respecting designer is not to win a prize or be judged best of their peers. Those that are foolish enough to enter a design contest believing that their work is being praised/celebrated/showcased do so at their own risk.

    I assume then that the prizes are donated?

    What is the judging process? Who are the judges and are they appropriately qualified to determine what is “best”?

  9. @coda: We value the right of everyone to express their views and opinions. Thank you for your thoughts, we respect your decision not to enter our competition.