Waste container

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"Wastebin" redirects here. For temporary deletion of a computer file, see Trash (computing).
A collection of movable blue waste containers in Australia

A waste container is a container for temporarily storing waste, and is usually made out of metal or plastic. Common terms are dustbin, rubbish bin, litter bin, garbage can, trash can, trash bin, wheelie bin, dumpster, waste basket, waste paper basket, waste receptacle, container bin, bin, kitchen bin, barrel and trash barrel. The words "rubbish", "basket" and "bin" are more common in British English usage; "trash" and "can" are more common in American English usage. "Garbage" may refer to food waste specifically (when distinguished from "trash") or to municipal solid waste in general.

Curbside dustbins[edit]

A wheelie bin in Berkshire, England

The curbside dustbins usually consist of three types: trash cans (receptacles made of metal or plastic), dumpsters (large receptacles similar to skips) and wheelie bins (light, usually plastic bins that are mobile). All of these are emptied by collectors, who will load the contents into a garbage truck and drive it to a landfill, incinerator or consuming crush facility to be disposed of. The standard size of a UK wheelie bin for household collection is 240 litres (8.5 cu ft).[1]

In some areas there is also a recycling service, often with one or more dedicated bins intended to receive items that can be recycled into new products. These bins are sometimes separated into different categories (usually represented by colours) which determine what materials can be inserted into the bin. The contents of the bins are taken to a recycling plant to be processed, and there are various systems for recycling bin collection: single bin combined stream systems, multiple bin systems, and cyclic collections with different materials collected on different days.

Bins in public areas[edit]

Since the 1995 terror bombings in France, public trash cans have largely been replaced by transparent plastic bags, in which it is more difficult to hide a bomb.

Certain public areas such as parks have litter bins which are placed alongside paths frequently walked by visitors. This encourages people to avoid littering, which creates an unhealthy and aesthetically unpleasant social environment. Public trash bins may be accompanied by recycling bins or "bottle bins" to be used for recycling glass and plastic. Some public bins, especially in "green" restaurants, accept organic waste to be composted.

Bins in outdoor locations or other busy public areas are usually mounted to the ground or wall. This discourages theft, and also reduces vandalism by making it harder for someone to physically move or maneuver the bins; to spill their contents on the ground for example, or to use the bin as an effective weapon to hit people over the back with.

Terrorists have left improvised explosive devices in bins. The bomb is much less likely to be spotted than an unattended bag and the metal bins provide extra shrapnel that injures people nearby when it detonates. For this reason there are no bins in most railway stations, most airports, and many shopping centres in the United Kingdom, or if they are provided they are just a bin bag hanging from a metal loop.[citation needed] The Bay Area Rapid Transit system in northern California also removed trash cans to prevent bombs from being hidden in them.[2]

Apartment buildings often have two dust flumes in which residents can dispose of their trash in stainless steel trash cans.[3] These chutes usually lead to some large receptacle or trash complex in the basement.


Trashcan in the shape of a dolphin

Attempts to improve the appearance of trashcans, they are sometimes made in the shape of a living creature. In these cases, the mouth is often used as the opening.


The term "garbage can" is also used for a model of decision making, the Garbage Can Model of decision making. It is concerned with cases of decision making in great aggregate uncertainty which can cause decisions to arise that from a distant point of view might seem irrational.

A "trash can" metaphor is often used in computer operating system desktop environments as a place files can be moved for deletion.

In a workplace setting, a bin may be euphemistically called "the circular file". Whereas useful documents are filed in a filing cabinet, which is rectangular, junk mail and other worthless items are "filed" in the bin, which is often round.

In popular culture[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smyth, Sara (15 January 2014). "Councils to reduce size of wheelie bins by almost half for 6 million households in bid to cut expenses and meet recycling targets". Mail Online (Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "BART removes trash to make stations safer - Mass Transit". Mass Transit. 
  3. ^ "Stainless Steel Garbage Cans". Rubbish Inc - Dumpster Rentals Austin Texas - Same Day Delivery!.