10 clever kitchen bin ideas for recycling and waste

These smart kitchen waste solutions make recycling easier than ever

room with printed wall and wooden table with chairs
(Image credit: Future)

When you wake up in the morning, you’re probably not overwhelmed with the urge to research kitchen bin ideas. But despite this, the right kitchen bin can make or break a kitchen - especially if you’re a recycling wizz-kid or you only have a small kitchen to work with.

There are so many things you can add to a kitchen that aren’t technically necessary, like the best cast iron cookware or the best coffee machine (although we would like to point out that caffeine is sometimes very necessary). But we like to add these things, anyway, because they make us happy. 

And that’s why we’re bringing your attention to the humble kitchen bin, which is considered to be the total opposite. As many people see this as a necessity, they fail to realise that a kitchen bin can be a stylish and practical addition to your kitchen. But if you need a little push to become a member of the Kitchen Bin Appreciation Club, take a look at these clever kitchen bin ideas for inspiration. 

Kitchen bin ideas

1. Hang a food caddy inside a kitchen cabinet

kitchen room with green food caddy on kitchen cabinet

(Image credit: EKO)

If you’re struggling to work out how to organise a small kitchen and are limited on countertop space , opt for a door-hung design like the Puro Caddy from EKO. This means your food caddy is close to hand when you're preparing food. Mount it on the outside of the cabinet door when you’re cooking so you can scrape scraps and leftovers straight in, then when you’re done, move it to the inside of the door. Just be sure to organise kitchen cabinets so you can shut the door without the caddy knocking things over inside.

Use compostable food waste bags inside your caddy to stop it from getting mucky, and either compost it in your own garden or put it out for your council if they offer a food waste collection service.

2. Use drawers to divide up your recyclables

kitchen room with photoframe on grey wall

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’ve got the space, consider dedicating a set of drawers to your recyclables; one for plastic, one for paper, one for tins and so on. This industrial-style design comes with made chalkboards for labelling. You could create a similar effect easily enough with stick-on chalkboard labels.

3. Scale up your recycling station

kitchen room with recycle bin and steel tap with sink

(Image credit: Brabantia)

For busy family kitchens that produce a lot of recycling and waste, you may find the compartments in your store-bought separation bin fill up quickly. ‘Instead, line up several tall, freestanding bins alongside each other to create a recycling station’, advises Jane, co-director at Binopolis. ‘This gives you increased capacity and enables you to easily sort rubbish as you go’.

To make it even easier, assign coloured bins, like these Brabantia ones from Amazon, for different categories of recyclables, green for glass, black for paper, white for metal etc.

4. Create a recycling hub on wheels

room with wooden recycling hub with wheels

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Tired of trekking back and forth to the bins? Take all your recycling out in just one trip with a recycling hub on wheels. Then simply roll it outside and unload. Create your own by attaching castors to the bottom of a wooden fruit crate. Then place sturdy plastic boxes (lined with handled canvas bags) inside.

5. Keep essentials within easy reach

White kitchen bins in utility room

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Rather than hide bins away in a utility room, make a feature of them. Set up a smart recycling station with all the essentials stored close to hand. Metal tins, crates, boxes and buckets conceal unsightly items such as bin-bags, deodorisers, wipes and rubber gloves and, when organised thoughtfully, make for a smart display. Create a similar look on a smaller scale for a stylish kitchen shelving idea, too.

We love these retro-style metal bins for sorting recyclables. To make them feel less imposing, stick to a uniform colour palette, as shown in the cream utility room idea above. Label with understated brown luggage tags.

6. Hide bins behind closed doors

room with tiled flooring and recycle bins in wooden cupboards

(Image credit: Future PLC)

While we can’t live without our kitchen bins, we can live without looking at them! Switch to an integrated design built into kitchen cabinets to keep recycling and waste organised and out of sight. Tucked neatly behind cabinet doors, you’d never even know it was there.

‘It’s a good idea to keep waste and recycling bins out of sight as much as possible in the kitchen to maintain a clean space for food preparation and cooking, says Lizzie Beesley, Head of Design at Magnet. 'Pull out bins for instance, are an ideal way of keeping rubbish and food waste neatly stored away, without ruining your overall kitchen aesthetic.’

Note that by opting for an integrated bin in your kitchen layout, you'll sacrifice storage space in your kitchen cabinets. Something to bear in mind if you’re organising a small kitchen layout.

7. Reserve a small bin for ‘proper’ rubbish

room with wooden flooring and white coloured recycle bin

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We’re all guilty of being a little less diligent than we should be at times when it comes to recycling. The bigger your rubbish bin, the more tempting it is to pop things in it that should go in the recycling. By choosing a small main bin, you’re more likely to filter out recyclable items to avoid overfilling.

8. Make a statement with a stylish freestanding design

black coloured round pedal bin with soft closing lid

(Image credit: Swan)

If you haven’t got the cabinet space for a concealed bin, having a freestanding one is your only option. Whether it’s a prime position pedal bin or a compact countertop caddy, if it’s out on display, it needs to look good. Thankfully, there’s some seriously stylish designs on the market like the Swan Gatsby Bin, sold at Amazon.

The same goes for recycling containers, too. If you haven’t got space in the kitchen for these, consider storing them elsewhere in the home disguised in a stylish storage vessel. Hunt down an old wicker laundry basket and place boxes inside for easy separation – no one will ever know. Just make sure you wash your recyclables out extra carefully.

9. Double up on recycling systems

room with wooden flooring and white coloured recycle bin

(Image credit: Orthex)

If you’re short on kitchen space, bypass oversized recycling bins in favour of a space-saving recycling storage box, complete with individual inserts, that can sit neatly at the end of a row of kitchen units. The SmartStore Recycling Bin Unit from Lakeland is particularly great.

Alternatively, you can use it as extra recycling storage elsewhere in the home. If you’re blessed with a walk-in pantry, tuck one just inside, and stock up on the best kitchen organisers. Recycling packaging as you decant your dried foods into glass jars is a great kitchen pantry idea.

10. Blend into the background

room with printed wall and wooden table with chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Looking for a kitchen bin that doesn’t actually look like a bin? There’s an easy way around this – opt for a design that coordinates with your decor appliances and accessories. You’ll barely even notice it’s there, as demonstrated here in this stylish cream kitchen bin idea.

Where should I put my kitchen bin?

It’s all about practicality when it comes to planning an efficient kitchen layout. Ensure your bins are positioned near worktops or prep areas so that mess can easily be cleared up as you go. If you’ve opted for an integrated design, under islands or breakfast bars are often a practical location.

How do I keep kitchen waste organised?

Come bin and recycling day, separating out a week’s worth of kitchen waste can be a chore. Save yourself the hassle by organising as you go, made easy with a waste separation bin.

‘You can get both freestanding and in-cupboard bins with multiple compartments so you can sort waste as you throw it away, which makes emptying it even easier. Many often come with a separate food waste caddy for extra convenience’, says Jane, co-director at Binopolis.

Choose a design with removable containers so you can simply lift them out and tip the contents into your recycling bins ready for collection. Local authorities recycle items differently, so visit your local council’s website to work out how many containers you might need.

What size should a kitchen bin be?

When deciding what size bin to buy, take into consideration the size of your household. The more people there are, the more waste there’s going to be. You’ll also need to factor in how much available kitchen space you have when you're choosing your kitchen bin ideas.

A 35-litre bin will suffice for a small household of one or two people. A bin for a larger household should be around 40-50 litres to avoid having to change the bin bag frequently. If you still feel like you need more space, we’d suggest buying multiple smaller-sized bins rather than one giant one, otherwise removing the bag can turn into a two-man job!

With contributions from