10 Best Recycling Bins for Any Space
Whether you’re looking for something for your kitchen, home office or garage, these recycling bins will help you go greener easily
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Recycling bins that make green living so much easier
You’ve heard the adage “reduce, reuse, recycle” hundreds of times, but are you actually following it? Out of the 35 million tons of plastics generated in the United States in 2018, only 8.7% were actually recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But recycling can significantly help the environment, decreasing the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, reducing the production of new items, saving energy and lessening our carbon footprints. It’s a tiny thing you can do to make a huge impact, and it’s incredibly easy—especially if you have the right recycling bins.
Choosing the best bins for your various household spaces will help you stick to a recycling plan, as will these tips on how to recycle: First, sorting items as you use them—plastic, glass, paper and whatever else—makes things much easier on recycling day. And while nearly anything can be recycled, make sure to check the recycling numbers on plastic items; this will help you figure out proper disposal guidelines. Items that were filled with food or beverages should also be scraped off and/or rinsed. As for that leftover food, pick up one of these compost bins to live even more sustainably.
Types of recycling bins
Chances are, you’re wondering, “What are the best kitchen bins?” And while you’ll definitely need one of those, you should also think about bins for other rooms in your home. Some have dual compartments (one for recycling, one for trash), some focus on style and still others are made for outdoor use. Certain bins are also better for certain types of recycling, like whether you’re tossing in stacks of papers or freshly rinsed jars, or you want to tote them from one place to another.
Overall, it’s important to get the right recycling bin for your needs so you actually use it. For example, maybe you want something you can keep out of sight. In that case, try a tall plastic bin that slides under a kitchen counter. If you need a bin for your home office, opt for a stylish, handwoven basket or something in a cool color that matches your decor. Or if you love to throw parties, a heavy-duty outdoor bin with clearly labeled compartments might be in order. There are even recycling bins for your car.
What to look for when buying recycling bins
Once you’ve figured out your needs, it’s time to consider some practical features—from foot pedals to gliders to dividers. Size is also important to consider. Ask yourself how many recyclables you use each week, and whether the bin will be staying in one spot or be brought to a recycling center.
In terms of materials, think about where you’ll be storing it. If you’re looking for an outdoor bin, focus on durability, something made of thicker plastic or stainless steel. Don’t have the time to let your items dry after rinsing them? You’ll want a bin that isn’t porous or made of materials like seagrass or wood.
How we chose the best recycling bins
Our list of the best in-home recycling bins is based on style, durability, price and lots of positive reviews. (And trust us when we say that people can get really excited about a good recycling bin!) Amazon products all have at least 500 reviews and an average four-star rating, while picks from other sites have equally strong reviews and features we love. We also chose recycling bins made with sustainable or recyclable materials whenever possible. In short, there’s something here for you, and it will make your life so much better—and recycling so much easier!
Pottery Barn Havana Handwoven Seagrass Sorting Basket
This Pottery Barn recycling bin is durable and decorative—plus, it’s got wheels! Handcrafted from seagrass and featuring three divided sections, it makes sorting stylish and convenient. It’s also sturdy, bolstered by an iron frame, and holds just under 16 pounds of materials. And the espresso stain goes with most design schemes, helping it blend in with your decor and look like a design element instead of recycling bin.
To keep it in tip-top shape, spot-clean it with a soft cloth, but make sure to rinse cans and allow them to dry before putting them in. It’s ideal for kitchen recyclables like water bottles, orange juice containers and milk cartons that close, or for old newspapers and other paper items.
- Made from sustainable materials
- Has wheels and handles
- Neutral color
- No lid
- Not ideal for leaky items or outdoor use
Best for under the counter
Simplehuman Dual Compartment Pull-Out Recycling Bin and Trash Can
Talk about multitasking: This sturdy Simplehuman unit features both a plastic recycling bin and a trash can, making cleaning up (and recycling) as you cook a snap. Plus, it utilizes a full-extension, commercial-grade track, so you can pull it out when you need it and hide it under the counter when you don’t. The easy-to-install, one-piece track comes preassembled, and you can buy liners to keep the plastic bins clean. Those are just a few of the things that makes it an Amazon bestseller with more than 8,000 five-star reviews. One happy customer raves: “It’s like they understood what a pain it is to get in a narrow space under the sink and how much abuse a trash can mechanism really takes.”
- Slides easily under the counter
- The track comes preassembled
- Comes with two bins
- No lids
- You need to use different-sized liner bags (D & G) for each bin
Whitmor Triple Sorter Recycling Bin
While this Whitmore Triple Sorter is technically just a bag made of polyester fabric, it can serve as a recycling bin in any part of your home. In its three sections, you can separate items by plastics, aluminum and paper or glass products, and at 30 inches long and 9 inches wide, it even works for recycling larger containers and pizza boxes. But best of all, this lightweight bin has an aluminum handle with a foam rubber grip, so you can easily transport it to your local recycling center. One Wayfair reviewer reports that it’s fantastic for apartment living for this reason. Interested in selling your old stuff? You can also use this to carry your items to secondhand marketplaces.
- Lightweight for travel
- Three compartments
- Surprisingly roomy
- Less durable than traditional bins
Best for big groups or parties
Alpine Industries 28-Gallon Black Recycling Bin
Don’t get stuck doing all the cleanup after your soiree. Discreetly display this genius unit instead of a single trash can, and let your guests do the work for you. It consists of three separate 28-gallon bins that fit into a single base and are covered by a single lid. Labels are provided for glass, plastic, cans and waste, so people can quickly see where to put their trash and recyclables. It’s great for large parties or even meetings and works best with disposable trash bags. Just make sure to empty them before transferring recyclables to your curbside bin, since plastic bags need to be recycled differently. By the way, here’s what you need to know about recycling bottle caps.
- Three clearly labeled bins
- Easy to put together
- Looks professional
- Made of corrugated plastic
- Fairly lightweight
Step N’ Sort Two-Compartment Kitchen Garbage Can and Recycling Bin
With its two roomy compartments, separate lids and foot pedals, which allow you to open it without touching the lid, this Step N’ Sort unit is a favorite among Walmart shoppers and one of the best kitchen bins. Depending on what works best for you, three labels let you pick between organics, recyclables and garbage. It also has a sturdy stainless steel frame (though it’s available in three colors), and the removable inner bins are made from recycled plastic, making them easy to clean. FYI, each bin fits 10- or 13-gallon trash bags, so there’s plenty of room to store your items until recycling day.
- Three color choices (stainless steel, red and black)
- The bins are made from recycled plastic
- Can rust if not cared for properly
Rubbermaid Blue Large Recycling Container
When you’re on a budget, you might not want to spend a fortune on a fancy recycling bin. This blue Rubbermaid recycling bin might not seem exciting, but it gets the job done while you stay focused on reducing your carbon footprint. Made of post-consumer recycled resin (that exceeds the EPA guidelines), it’s super durable. Most often used for recycling paper, this can sit right next to your printer, and it also works great in your garage, your classroom if you’re a teacher, and any other casual space where you’re not looking to make a style statement.
- Made of recycled materials
- Doesn’t have a lid
- Smaller capacity
Best for narrow spaces
United Solutions Highboy Recycling Bins
If you need a few basic bins for narrow spaces, this is the way to go. While you can buy them separately, you’ll get a discount deal if you buy a four-pack, and you can put one in your kitchen, another in your office and two in your garage. They’re each less than 11 inches wide, so they don’t take up a lot of space, but because they’re 30 inches tall, they can still hold a lot—up to 46 pounds apiece. Plus, their dual pass-through handles make them easy to carry. Verified Amazon reviewer Laura Ann, who tucks it right behind her trash can, raves: “I love it! It holds a lot, and I don’t have to empty it nearly as often, which is so convenient.”
- Tall and narrow
- Holds up to 46 pounds
- Offered in a four-pack at a discount
- Made in the U.S.A.
- Doesn’t have a lid
Houston International Enameled Galvanized Steel Recycling Bin
Who says recycling bins can’t look cool? This galvanized steel bin from Wayfair provides a surprising dose of vintage style, offering four different earth-based color choices and a lid that keeps kids and pets at bay. But our favorite part just may be the functional holes that allow air to circulate through the bin, which helps dry wet items and is especially helpful when you’re not using a liner. While this bin can be used indoors or outdoors, it does best in a dry, covered area, whether that’s in your home office or on your patio, under an awning.
- Stylish details, including braided handles and colored enamel
- Allows recyclables to air out
- On the pricier side
Iirntree Handmade Recycled Wood Waste Bin
Handcrafted from recycled wood, this Etsy bin is the perfect combination of function, form and sustainability. Since it’s made of wood, it looks like a decor item, so it’s meant to be put on display and, as its description says, “add class to your trash.” You can use it for any type of recycling, as long as you use a liner with it, and it comes in 19 different color options, from espresso to cherry to golden oak. At 20 inches tall, this can fit a smaller space in your home, though that means you might have to empty it more often.
More than 2,600 customers have given it a five-star rating, raving about its quality, gorgeous craftsmanship and “new wood smell,” which some reviewers say lasts for more than a month. Buy one for yourself and another as an eco-friendly gift for the sustainably minded person in your life.
- Made from recycled wood
- Comes with a lid and an easy-to-grab handle
- Available in 19 colors
- Free shipping
- On the smaller side
- You need to buy more than one for trash and recycling
Best for your car
High Road StashAway Car Trash Can
For around $15, this car essential will help you recycle on the go—and keep your car a whole lot cleaner. Made of heavy-duty polyester, the StashAway comes with three storage pockets, a lid and solid front and back panels. You can attach it to the back of your center console or a headrest, and its vinyl lining will keep leaks contained, so you don’t have to worry about tossing in soda cans and water bottles. It’s also available in two color options: basic black and a cool red-and-taupe pattern.
- Fits all vehicles
- Durable and leakproof
- Made by a small business in Maine
- Small storage capacity
What can’t go into your recycling bins
Excited to use your new recycling bins? Excellent … but read this first! There are a few items that can’t be recycled with your normal items:
- Gift wrap with a shiny or laminated coating
- Plastic bags, wraps and films, like bubble wrap
- Compostable plastics
While plastic bags, wraps and films can be recycled, they can’t be mixed in with your curbside recycling. Why? They can get tangled in the machines and jam the gears. For those items, check this Drop-off Directory to find a place near you that accepts them for recycling.
Compostable plastics, on the other hand, should be thrown into your regular trash bin. If you add them to your curbside recycling bins, they can contaminate and disrupt the recycling stream, since the materials are different. For odd items like Taco Bell sauce packets or even extinguished cigarettes, TerraCycle will hook you up with the right recycling program.
Simple ways to recycle every day
Recycling may be a chore, but it certainly doesn’t have to feel like one. With the right recycling bins, you’ll be well on your way to helping the environment every single day. If you’re not sure what to do with other types of unwanted stuff, check out this article on upcycling clothes—which is a lot easier than you might think!