Trash talk: A dirty but necessary business

The humble and oft-maligned bin comes in many shapes and sizes from bling and chic to solidly functional, writes Kya deLongchamps

THE bin — the dirty little secret of every well appointed kitchen. Without their stoic service and faultless maintenance, the first impact of your your dream space will remain more whiff than wow.

Activities in the kitchen generate a steady, varying stream of organic and inorganic household waste. With the gentle warming of room temperature, and dark, damp enclosure, it’s not long before the decomposition of fresh and packed produce gets to work.

Like my granny before me, I refuse to keep any bins in the tight quarters of the kitchen, and prefer the dripping dash to the utility room. On an environmental note, who remembers a shocking incident in which 160 tonnes of waste gathered in Dublin was stopped in Rotterdam on its way to China? Oxygen monitors picked up off-gassing and the load was returned.

As a consequence, we’re all going to have to rethink our waste strategy, especially with pay-by-weight looming. As much as 40% of green bin waste is suspected to be contaminated by everything from nappies to non-paper refuse — blithe abuse of well understood separating processes by householders.

The right binning system at home, one that works for you and your family, together with a determination to cut down on food waste can keep your hands and conscious clean.

Nobody thrills to the idea of emptying the blasted bin (I operate on the premise that that’s what the bounding 13-year-old child is gifted by God to do). Household habits and capacity are key. Yes, a bigger volume means less frequent empties, but it demands more perfect sealing, so as the receptacle size goes up, put more onus on the quality and lid fit.

Light plastic bins with a simple swing lid start from €15 for a 25-litre model. Fanning odours with every use, the worst examples often stick open in a leer. Badly detailed pedal bins in thrusting vertical pillar-boxes with tiny stabs are unstable when lightly filled, with push-flap models crunching shut on hands and waste.

These cheapos are a curse for even the highly organised separator, who uses the black bin area only lightly, washes cans and stages green waste and compostable in outside units at least twice a week. Think through the time and motion of reaching the black bin and the recyclables from the moment you pull open packaging or peel off vegetables to dropping the waste in the bin.

There are free-standing and integrated solutions for every kitchen (see our sidebar on hiding it all) and in terms of sizing, tall, stable, upright bins make best use of a small footprint. Rectangular shapes in the principal bin (curved corners are very much in at the moment) sit back against the wall even more tightly, and can also slot into slender nooks and corners.

Examine the access to the lid and its operation with the placement position you are considering for that bin. A lifting lid smacking a section of wall for example will irritate over time. Look for silent closing and for foot operation, a light pedal that doesn’t require a rattling stamp. Ensure any metal bin is raised on a plastic ring, clear of the floor — they all tend to rust.

Every family is different, but 40-50-litre recycling in-kitchen will handle most small to mediums-sized kitchens, emptied into an outside bin as necessary. Argos Home has a 45-litre thee division recyclables bin at a bargain €59.99 with a stainless steel finish and colour coded foot pedal operation for three divisions.

The Brabantia Sort n’ Go line of 12-16-litre caddies are ideal for bridging small and large bins (€30/€35) . If you don’t have the cash for a Simplehuman rocket of chic to handle the demands of the non-organic black bag, Argos’ Curver line from €25.49 for a stylish 40-litre delivers that touch-top, tight seal to cut down on smells and lid handling.

There’s a good range of colours and finishes too, so no compromise on the latest bin couture whether you want the bin to sit out, or act as wallflower. Argos also carries the American diner-inspired, Swan sensor bins — great value for no-touch operation from 15cm distance at €84.99 for a 45-litre model. Cheaper still, Morphy Richards sensor operated in a slightly smaller 42-litre size start at €54 over at Littlewoods.

If your black bin behavior is exemplary, a 20l-30l model should do. If you can’t afford a Brabantia bin in Orla Kiely colours, take a look at Salter’s Retro Leaf and lovely yellow Thirty Trees, 30l for €54.99 from Littlewoods. Always look for the inner removable bucket, if that’s what you expect.

In serious branded bins, the market is swelling. Brabantia, Wesco, Joseph-Joseph, Swan and late comers Morphy Richards have yearly collections that change with kitchen flair. Crisp bare stainless steel bins require frequent wiping – choose a colour, applied pattern or texture instead.

Simplehuman lead the way for detailing like stay-open functions and semi rounds — everything for a bin that’s on show. Subtle quality versions of their classics can be as much as 50% cheaper. Discreet but unashamed with internal hinges and a gorgeous chassis, this is not an unexciting buy. Expect more practical features for the money. Internal rings that grip the liner, wide pedals to spread foot pressure — and whoop — bespoke liner sizings.

Bling Bins include the rise of gold, so I have to mention Simplehuman’s positively beautiful gold trimmed pedal bin with pocket Liner. Storing the new liners inside the bin is a genius and welcome touch I’m sure other makers will follow. €99 (€136-€173 for a complete brushed gold finish), Amara.

The Wesco Spaceboy is a variant on its iconic bullet shaped Pushboy (50l €124) with a space ship silhouette, and in powder coated stainless steel, a galvanized interior and a firmly snapping swing bin quality traditional, €247.

Joseph Joseph’s Totem, though somewhat plastic in looks (it’s powder coated SS), offers clever integration of a general waste bin at the top, a food caddy for chefs on the fly and a recycling drawer to the base. Compete with breather vents and replaceable carbon filters, it’s super for smaller kitchens with designer interests. Best price, Debenhams in grey/green €184.

JJ’s popular counter-top waste caddy, ready to take straight to the compost heap is €44.99 in a discreet graphite grey. Suppliers nationwide.

INTEGRATION IS KEY

Hidden bins operated by opening a kitchen base cabinet, can be set on the floor of the cabinet or set just below the counter (top mounting) and tidy all that mess away unseen behind a sliding door.

  • On a budget, a floor mounted, ball bearing track and hand lifting of the lids is a good entry point, and perfect for a quick re-fit or a standard 40-60mm hinged door cabinet. For less invasive handling of the bin lid, choose a floor mount that pulls open from the front, self-sealing as it closes. Simplehuman under-counter pull outs from €99.
  •  Base-mounted crate style that run out to meet you, are perfect for clean, chunky recyclables like cans and bottles, likely to be placed rather than thrown into the unit. Wire frames, with recycling baskets set to swing out with a hinged door are again economic retro-fits, but include lids unless you journey to the wheelies and compost bin daily.
  • Fully framed, top mounting is convenient, pulling the bin or bins open as one unit and swallowing waste directly from a work surface. Choose from single to multiple bins by just moving the whole unit with one finger, ideally on a soft close, sealing on an upper surface. The full joys of top mounting demands that you food prep’ above the bin – include this in the ergonomics of your CAD dreams.
  • Two or more bins, 15l x 2 – 40l x 2, even as many as five divisions for the scrupulous — can be dealt together on independently mounted rails under one 30cm cabinet, the liners withdrawn independently for emptying. Try Hafele for a fabulous choice of supports, bio-filters and bin sets, hafele.ie.
  • Quality and composition varies widely and as with all internal cabinet tailoring, can add €300 to a base unit price. Retrofitting a hinged door or attaching a bin unit to a new pull forward door, don’t skimp on the supporting framework for any articulated integrated bins. Heavy gauge steel with an epoxy coating will last years of abuse.

RECYCLING TIPS

With flat-fee waste collection on the way out for many households in Ireland, and pay-by-weight or a top-up pay by weight in kilograms (to a standardised weight allowance set by individual companies), it’s time to get our wheelies in a row.

Although tens of thousands of Cork county customers are already well aware of the pay-by-weight, if you have been sloppy, get to know what you can and cannot recycle, and take unnecessary strain off the black bags. They should be the lesser of all your waste groups and it starts from your shopping choices forward.

  • Think about what you can put in the green mixed dry recyclables bin (paper and many plastics etc) and the brown (unpackaged raw and cooked food waste) bins as you buy your foodstuffs. A full list is available at repak.ie.
  • Instigate a recycling collection point in the kitchen and take it out to the appropriate bin regularly. Remove linings from cardboard containers and flatten them.
  • Choose recyclable packaging or bring your own bags and buy loose fruit and veg’ as much as possible. Good packaging is clearly marked with the recycling logo but not all those marked are currently accepted. Go to Repak’s website for a fuller explanation. (Or do as others do and leave the packaging in the supermarket bin, lobbing fruit and veg into a basket instead —the polluter pays principle in action).
  • Acceptable plastics include: LDPE – Low density polyethylene (eg sandwich bag). HDPE — Hard density polyethylene (eg, plastic milk jugs). Clean and dry paper and cardboard. Aluminium cans.
  • Familiarise yourself with contaminants. Paper or plastic encrusted with foodstuffs, certain plastic bags, wet paper and plastic film area is not acceptable and if spotted can result in the green bin not being lifted at all. Rinse off plastic packaging where possible or put it in the black bin.
  • Take all glass out of your kitchen, wash it and set it aside for recycling at your local collection centre. Adhere to the correct colour when dropping them off.
  • WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment — anything with a battery or a plug) can contain hazardous components. Take them to your local recycling centre or present them on replacement like for like at your retailer.


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