Recycling Bin Guide

Trash can lid mechanism


Home Recycling Bins Recycling Bin Guide

By 4 May 2017 Shares

Touch or touchless trash cans

Trash cans come with and without lids. When you prefer a trash can with lid there is a lot to choose from. In what way do you want to open the lid of your trash can. By hand, by foot or by motion sensor?

On this page we’ll walk you through the different kinds of trash can lid mechanisms, such as step-on trash cans and manual bins with a touch lid. We sum up the pros and cons for each mechanism so you can find out what kind of trash can or recycling bin you want to get.


Lid mechanisms:

Recommended: Touchless trash cans are more hygienic in use

A trash can is a container to collect your household trash and recyclables. This makes it an object you rather don’t want to touch with your fingers. Especially in the kitchen area it is more hygienic to have a recycling bin that you don’t need to touch by hand at all. Therefor it is recommended to use an automatic trash can with motion sensor. Or a step-on trash can with foot pedal. With these types of trash cans there is no need to touch the bin with your hand.

What are the pros and cons of touchless trash cans?


  • Hygienic in use
  • Convenient to use with full hands
  • Less finger prints on the bin


  • Mechanism can break
  • Overall more expensive than touch or open cans

All Touchless Trash Cans

Open top trash cans without lid

The most basic trash cans have no lid at all, so the top is not covered. These types of open trash cans are used to throw away trash easily and fast. Think about a small paper bin under your office desk to throw away paper without even looking at it. Or an open trash can in a fast food restaurant where you can throw away your food wrappers and food containers without the need to touch the bin.



  • Easy to throw things away
  • Visible when the trash can is full
  • Don’t need to touch the bin


  • Odors are not contained
  • Not proof for pets and insects
  • Not recommended for organic waste
  • If it tips over it can become quite messy

All Open Top Trash Cans

Manual trash cans

A manual trash can has a lid that you manually open by hand. Trash can manufactures come up with all kind of ways to open the lid. The most simple version of this type of trash can has a lid that you lift by hand. But more fancy manual trash cans have lids that open automatically after pressing the lid (press top) or pushing on a touch bar. With these type of recycling bins you can also use your hip or elbow to open the lid.



  • Easy to use
  • Relatively cheap


  • Not the most hygienic
  • Not convenient with full hands
  • Not dog-proof

All Manual Trash Cans


It is very convenient when you have a trash can where the lid stays open by itself. Cheaper models tend to have lids that fall down right after you remove your hand from the lid. For kitchen use it’s recommended to have a trash can where the lid can stay open so you have time to scrape of your cutting board for examples.

Another thing to look for when you want a stainless steel trash can is that it has a fingerprint-proof coating. Because you and your family will touch the bin quite often it will get fingerprints and smudges all over it. This special coating prevents most of the smudges so you won’t have to clean the bin that often.

Swing lid trash cans

A trash can with a swing top lid has a lid that you need to push by hand. So this is also a manual trash can. Some swing cans have lids with a spring so it closes right after you remove your hand. Other swing lid trash cans have a lid that rotates freely so you don’t feel pressure while using it.



  • The lid closes automatically
  • Perfect for ‘clean’ trash such as paper


  • Not hygienic
  • The swing lid can become dirty
  • Not recommended for kitchen use
  • Not convenient with full hands
  • Opening is relatively small
  • The lid can get stuck when can is full

All Swing Lid Trash Cans


Because you push the lid by hand it will become dirty after a while. Especially when it is a metal lid, because of the fingerprints. So it is recommended to choose a swing lid bin that has a fingerprint-proof coating.

Step-on trash cans

A step-on trash can is a touchless pedal trash can because you don’t need your hands to open the lid. You open the lid by pressing the pedal with your foot. This makes a pedal trash can a very hygienic bin to use in the kitchen, restroom or bathroom. There are single, dual and multi-compartment step-on recycling bins available.



  • Very hygienic in use
  • Have both of your hands free
  • Less fingerprints and smudges


  • Lid falls down after removing your foot
  • Foot pedal mechanism can break
  • Pedal works best when standing in front of bin
  • Some lids can’t be opened by hand

All Step-On Trash Cans


A step-on bin works best when the foot pedal is durable and sturdy. For kitchen use we recommend a step-on trash can with a steel foot pedal. This is a more expensive option but the trash can will last longer than a bin with a plastic foot pedal which can feel flimsy when using it.

Please note that the foot pedal of a step-on waste bins works best when you stand in front of the bin. So when you want to operate the pedal bin from the side, the lid won’t open smoothly most of the times. Another thing to look at is that some pedal trash cans have lids that are flush with the top of the bin. This means you can’t open the lid with your hands.

Automatic trash cans with motion sensor

A sensor trash can is a 100% touchless recycling bin. This means that you don’t have to touch the trash can at all, not by foot and not by hand. The trash can contains a sensor, when activated, automatically opens the lid. You activate the sensor by holding your hand in front of the sensor and a motor in the bin opens up the lid by itself. The sensor is designed in a way that it won’t activate the lid when you walk by the trash can.

Best automatic trash cans »



  • 100% touchless
  • Very hygienic and convenient
  • Makes recycling a fun experience


  • Motor makes sound
  • Replacing batteries
  • The lid motor may malfunction
  • Some models are not dog-proof

All Automatic Trash Cans


An automatic trash can is powered by batteries and some models are also equipped with a wall adapter. If you want to rely on the wall adapter completely make sure you have a wall socket near the location you want to place the automatic trash can. If you want to separate trash and recycling we recommend a dual sensor recycling bin.

Best automatic trash cans »

Other things to look for

  • If you want to place the trash can flat against your wall make sure the hinges of the lid are inside the bin. In this way the lid won’t stick out at the back when you open the trash can. Otherwise it might scratch your wall or damage the lid of your trash can.
  • It is convenient to be able to lock the lid so the lid can stay open. This is very convenient when you want to throw away a larger amount of waste.
  • To prevent the bin from scooting on the floor it is recommended to look for a more heavy trash can made of stainless steel. To prevent scratches on your (wooden) floor make sure the bottom of the waste bin contains rubber. This rubber also precludes the bin from moving when you use the trash can. Especially recommended for step-on recycling bins and trash cans.

Recycling Bin Guide
Tips for buying a trash can or recycle bin

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By 4 May 2017 Shares