Customizing Your Trash Cans for Your Property These Aren't Your Average Plastic and Metal Bins

Customizing Your Trash Cans for Your Property
With these latest options, co-op and condo owners can customize your trash system to their space, pocketbook and level of ecological commitment (iStock).

Trash used to be easy.  But now in a world where recycling and environmental awareness has become the norm, it’s no longer just “lift up the lid and throw it in the trash.” Separating different types of waste has become the norm in most localities, especially major cities.  

In New York, homeowners and apartment dwellers are required to separate refuse into at least three groups: paper, plastic/glass/metal/cartons, and food waste.  In addition, many residents are now participating in separating food waste into organic composting and non-compost waste as well. So much for the humble trash bin.  

Size and Shape Are Not Always the Same

Along with this revolution in waste management comes a revolution in trash bin design.  Trash bins with recycling technology come in various sizes, shapes, colors and models. Basically they fall into two groups: freestanding and drawer style pull-out.  

A typical kitchen trash can will hold 13 gallons of waste, equivalent to 50 liters.  Not all bins are the same size like all kitchens.  Some cans are smaller, holding only say, 30 liters. Others might be larger, though 13 gallons is typical as that’s the size of a standard kitchen liner.  

Dimensions also vary as well.  A typical freestanding kitchen trash bin measures approximately 30 inches in height, 12 inches in depth, and 16 inches in width.

When taking into consideration New York City recycling requirements, a three-compartment trash system is a minimum requirement—of course depending on space, and one with the capacity to provide for organics composting is even better.  

What’s Out There

The Cooperator has looked at some of the different kinds of bins available; here’s a sampling of them:.

The Totem 60, a freestanding trash bin by Joseph Joseph, is labeled as a “waste separation and recycling unit.” It offers four compartments, including a food caddy for organics recycling.  It also includes a deodorizer in the top compartment, which is where food and related waste is kept.  The lower two compartments are designed for paper and plastics/glass/metals recycling.  The unit is approximately 31.5 inches in height, 15.75 inches in width, and 11.8 inches in depth, similar to a single-compartment kitchen bin. Holding 36 liters of waste overall, this bin retails for $250.00.

For those seeking an in-cabinet system, there is the Rev-A-Shelf 5BBSC-WMDM24-C system.  It fits into a 20-inch wide cabinet and is approximately 22 inches deep and approximately 20 inches in height.  It includes three 25-quart polymer bins, which are available in three colors providing for more obvious recycling coding, and a machine washable canvas bag for organics for composting.  The retail price is $405.00, but it can be purchased on-line at for $242.00.  Rev-A-Shelf also offers two bin in-drawer systems. They can be viewed at as well.

If you are not collecting organics for composting, a great option is a three-chamber recycling bin from Organize It All. This stainless steel unit measures 24 inches in width by 13.5 inches in depth and is 19 inches high.  It has three lids controlled with individual foot pads and is available online also at for $95.82.  Its model number is 33206814.

And for those who have a little less space and want a more economical product, Rubbermaid offer a 2-in-1 Recycler with two compartments, a 7.4-gallon tilt-out bin and a 5.8-gallon sorting bin.  At 12 inches deep and 16.7 inches wide, this model is the same size as a conventional kitchen trash bin.  It’s available on for $43.99 and was selected by that site as one of the best kitchen trash bins of 2016.

With these options, co-op and condo owners can customize their trash system to their space, pocketbook, and level of ecological commitment.  The great news is that the days of newspaper piles and extra garbage bags filled with plastic and metal could be over.

A J Sidransky is a novelist and staff writer at The Cooperator.

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