The best kitchen bin may not be the most glamorous piece of furniture you ever buy, but it is undeniably pretty essential. Whether you're recycling, chucking out trash or even compacting it, we have a stylish solution for you here. To reflect the fact that recycling is so important these days – both ecologically speaking and, unfortunately, as a legal requirement – most of our top picks double up as refuse and recycling bins.
And yes, you can place these bins in areas other than your kitchen… It's just in most homes, that is where the main rubbish repository still tends to live. Now, enough of this rubbish; let's take the best bins out…
The best kitchen bin and recycling bin to buy
Brabantia and Eko are sort of the Samsung and Apple of the kitchen bin world and that's why they are at the top of this kitchen bin buying guide. The Brabantia Bo Hi Recycling Touch Bin has two bins secreted within it – one for rubbish and one for recycling – and comes in several sizes of which our preference is the range-topping 2x30-litre behemoth. There is also the option of a single, 60-litre bin, should you already have alternative arrangements for recycling.
There is not a great deal to say about this bin, except that it does everything you could wish for, from a bin. A light press of the lid makes it pop up, it's easy to clean, and it's easy to fit bin bags – you can use Brabantia's own ones for a perfectly seamless fit, but any 30-litre (or smaller) bag works fine and is held securely in place, without any fuss. With its elegant legs and some good colour choices, it even looks pretty stylish, as plastic bins go. There is also a steel one, which is fingerprint resistant, but to be honest I prefer the easy-wipe, seemingly indestructible plastic ones.
The only issue I have ever run into with this bin, in 3 years of using it, is every once in a blue moon, the lid fails to pop up first time when touched. It always pops up on the second go, and these failures are incredibly rare but given the price of the thing, I would ideally prefer failures to occur never.
A lot of premium bins nowadays have automatic opening when you wave your hand over the lid, and plenty offer multiple compartments for your rubbish and/or different types of recycling. However this Eko Deluxe Phantom, as well as having a bad-ass name, offers the best combination of the two, with excellent build quality and pretty good looks, at least by trash can standards.
The responsive motion sensor and quick-opening lid are excellent, and inside there are a pair of 20-litre, colour-coded bins. There are also buttons to open and close the lid, if you need to leave it open for longer – when scraping out leftover food from pans, for instance. How you use the pair of bins is up to you – we use one for recycling and one for rubbish, but you could of course also use it to separate types of recycling. Whatever you do, 40 litres total is a lot of capacity, in a relatively small footprint of about 46x27cm. The face that the Deluxe Phantom is longer than it is wide also makes it much easier to position than bins whose dimensions are wider than they are long – it nestles neatly in between kitchen units, and we positioned ours between an island and a butcher's block.
The coated, stainless steel body and lid are remarkably good at resisting fingerprints and stains, and the internal bins are robust, plastic and easy to clean. I thought Eko's own-brand bin bags were quite crap – if they get too full, the cord at the top almost invariably pulls through the bag when you try to pull it out – but you can use whatever bin liner you want, thanks to Eko's unfussy and intelligent design. Comes with a three-year guarantee; requires six AA batteries – a lot of batteries, admittedly, but they seem to last a long time. Eko quotes '20,000 openings and at least 3-6 months'.
It's quite costly, as bins go, but no other kitchen trash can comes close in terms innovation. As well as its fingerprint-resistant, stainless steel construction and stress-tested foot pedal, the standout feature here is its hygienic trash compactor mechanism that means you can maximize the amount of rubbish in each bin liner, and reduce the number of times it needs emptying.
Once the bin is opened via the foot pedal, you chuck the rubbish in and then lift the top handle to vertical and push down into the bin. Yes, yes, we wanted it to be automatic as well, but the action is extremely satisfying, especially as you don’t have to encounter any gunky old stuff, as it's all sealed within the bin liner.
Joseph Joseph estimate that you can get three times as much rubbish in one bin liner, and while it does depend on the rigidity of what you're throwing away, the results were fantastic.
We were worried that having loads of rubbish lingering about would just make the kitchen smell, but the well sealed lid and replaceable charcoal filter help keep things fresh.
Featuring a 24 litre pull-out bin and separate 34 litre internal compartment, this 56cm wide stainless steel design is the most spacious twin compartment recycling bin on the market.
The steel pedal has been engineered to last more than 20 steps per day for 20 years, the innovative internal hinge won't bash on the kitchen wall, and inside there's a pouch for storing spare bin-liners – it works like a packet of wet-wipes – that's beautifully simple and saves time and faff.
The look may not exactly be elegant, but the stainless steel is hard to fault and easy to clean, helped in no small part by a finger print resistant nano-silver coating that's also resistant to germs.
Be warned, though: this bin is a monster. While practical, especially for hiding the recycling, you'll need a huge kitchen for it not to dominate the space. The utility room might be a better home for it.
Another premium bin from Joseph Joseph, the Intelligent Waste Separation and Recycling Totem – to give it its full title – boasts one massive compartment and one smaller, pull-out drawer with an optional divider to make it into two smaller compartments.
I actually ended up using this for storage of sponges, dishcloths and the like, but you could use it as an on-the-small-side recycling area.
The main bin is easy to fit and remove bin bags to/from, and has a charcoal filter and well-sealed lid to reduce odours, or at least keep them within the bin. Another solution to smells is provided by the inclusion of a small composting box, which is stored at the top of the bin and can be filled and emptied of food waste much more regularly, while the larger compartment fills up with non-rotting rubbish.
The powder-coated steel body is great, although the polished steel lid is a bit of a smear magnet.
I'd say this is great for couples who generate a lot of waste but possibly just that bit too small for a family of four or more.
It’s not easy to find nice medium sized kitchen bins as most are either 30L or above or 10L or smaller, whereas for many people a 20L bin hits that sweet spot between not taking up too much space and not needing to be emptied too often. The X Cube Kitchen Bin 20L from British manufacturer Eko is a top quality bin in fingerprint-resistant stainless steel with antibacterial coating, a removable inner bucket, a soft close lid, and a silicone seal to help trap odours. There’s also a deodorizer compartment in the lid, which can hold carbon filters or perfume capsules.
The pedal on the bin has apparently been tested to last more than 100,000 uses while the bin also comes with a 10 year warranty, while the bin’s top frame lifts up if you want to keep the lid open. When it comes to bin bags, you can buy specific Eko branded bags or, as the manufacturer points out, the “bin bag fixer holds any size bag in place. So no more shopping around for the ‘perfect’ bin liners.” Just don't buy the cheap supermarket ones that rip every time you try to remove them when they're full.
HELLO, Spaceboy. Wesco bins always look the absolute business, and while the price of even its smallest pedal bin pushes the £100 mark, they're built exceptionally tough, and should last for decades.
And, if you hadn't noticed, the Spaceboy XL looks like a 1950's cartoon rocket.
It doesn’t do anything fancy – no sensors, compactors or odour filters here – but it's made from thick rolled steel, has an equally robust steel insert bin, for easier emptying, and unlike any other bin on the market, if a part breaks – the sprung hinge, bin-liner band or recessed handle – you can buy replacements.
Offering endless amusement for toddlers, and reduced cleaning for grown-ups, touch-free bins like the Sensé are great if your hands are so full of rubbish, operating the usual lid-opening mechanisms is difficult.
That's particularly handy if you've got raw meat all over your hands and you're trying to chuck some cooking waste away. Just wave your e coli-infested mitts over the bin and wait for the magic to happen. The lid also closes automatically after five seconds of inactivity, or you can keep it open or close it manually, via a button.
Made.com's is the best of this breed if you’re on a budget, with seven attractive finishes including blue, chrome, white and black, and a very attractive price.
The quality of steel used is not as good as on the pricier bins here but, interestingly, when the one I had started to rust, Made.com replaced it, no questions asked, without me even mentioning I'm a journalist.
How to buy the best kitchen bin for you
If you've only got £10 you can find a whole selection of cheap kitchen bins capable of holding onto a bin liner, but be prepared for flimsy flip lids and gunk collecting hinges. But really, if you don't want your kitchen to smell like a rubbish heap, or to spend every day taking waste to your outdoor bins, we recommend paying more. And if you're a family of three or four, choose the largest capacity bin you can fit in the kitchen: at least 30 litres. 60 is probably better.
The ideal bin should give the give the longest possible time between emptyings, but without taking so long to fill that everything rots and stinks out your home. Of course, much rubbish these days is recycled, and for that you need a bin with at least one container.
Recycling takes up a huge amount of space, and while multi-compartment bins offer a seamless solution, expect to be emptying them regularly. You're better off sacrificing some cupboard space and choosing an inexpensive built-in recycling solution – try Ikea.com – that can hide all the bottles from the neighbours until the bin men arrive.
As for freestanding designs, it's worth choosing models with removable inner compartments – usually plastic – that make it easier to remove a full bin liner without tearing it. Charcoal filters are some help for absorbing nasty odours, which can be a godsend in the summer, but don't rely on them too much.
Finally, make sure your bin can be cleaned properly. Stainless steel and plastic are both hygienic materials, but look for easily removable parts and minimal joins, where foul bin juice can fester.