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.
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.
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