Dealing with garbage is not a typical conversation topic, but for the Kitchen Designer it needs to be.

Statistics vary but it is estimated that the average North American produces approximatly 10 pounds of garbage a week.

For a family of 4 that’s 40 pounds per week and over 2000 pounds per year!

When you look closely at the composition of this garbage it becomes clear that the one-size-fits-all approach of a single trashcan under the sink will not cut it.

Read on to see how to specify solutions to deal with garbage produced in today’s kitchen.

Before the Kitchen Designer can tackle how to deal with trash in their client’s Kitchen, they need to understand their client’s specific needs.

Questions to ask include:

  • Do you recycle?
  • Do you separate your recycling and into what categories?
  • Do you compost?
  • Do you plan to include a waste disposer or garburator at your sink?
  • How much garbage do you produce that cannot be recycled or composted?

Once you have this information you can begin to plan an appropriate waste management system for your client.

Kitchen Waste Management

Most contemporary Kitchens should include a least two waste receptacles in the design.

One for general garbage and one for recycling.

The next decision to be made is where to place these trash receptacles.

Under the Sink

Under the sink has been a traditional place to include a trash can.

To optimize the space under the sink for a trash container begin by choosing a sink that strategically places the sink drain.

Specify sinks with drains at the back of the bowls to provide more space in the front of the cabinet for the trash can.

If you specify a large single sink for the design look for a model with a side drain.

A small trash can under the sink with a pop-up lid is ideal for basic garbage.

The lid will keep things clean and tidy under the sink and there are sizes available to fit most spaces.

Small recycling units can also be placed under a sink with the right planning.

Again choosing a sink with a back or side drain will provide the room needed for an under sink recycle unit.

Most importantly you need to miss the sink’s plumbing systems when placing any form of waste management in a sink cabinet.

Drawers under the sink can be fitted with trash and recycle bins for a convenient set up.

Single drawers, double drawers and even triple drawers under a sink can be utilized for waste management.

To accomplish this the Kitchen Designer will need to customize the drawers to miss the plumbing lines.

Bin Configuration

A pullout waste can in a separate cabinet is a great way to deal with regular trash and recycling.

A single pullout bin can serve either waste management function.

A double bin pullout is the perfect choice when you are looking to provide both general trash and recycling in a single cabinet, or a double recycling space for your client.

Based on your client’s recycling needs there are also triple options and 4-bin pullout systems available.

Bin Placement

Another decision you need to make as a Kitchen Designer is what type of cabinet to place the waste system in.

There are options that will fit in a standard base cabinet with an upper drawer and those that are better suited to a full height door cabinet.

The drawer above waste bins are the perfect place to keep the trash bags.

Typically a full height door pullout system will have a larger capacity bin or bins making it ideal for recycling of bulky items such as cans & bottles.

Unique Setups

The Kitchen Designer sometimes needs to look beyond standard placements or configurations.

A corner base cabinet is an area to consider placing recycling bins.

When this large cabinet is fitted with a revolving set of bins you can have the perfect recycling center in your client’s kitchen.

A unique configuration is also an option for recycling.

The colorful example above fits in a 24″ wide cabinet and includes 3 plastic triangular shaped bins and a cloth bag in the back.

Compost Bins

With home composting becoming more popular, the Kitchen Designer needs to have some options for compost collection in the kitchen.

A small trash bin that can attach to a cabinet door can be a good solution that is very portable.

Another good idea is to look for trash bins with lids that include charcoal filters to absorb odors between trips to the outside compost bin.

An extremely convenient way to deal with produce scraps is to have a stainless steel compost bin mounted into the countertop.

This solution allows cooks to chop and easily swipe the compostable bits into a hole in the counter.


Trash disposal can be messy business so Kitchen Designers should consider installing hands free door and drawer openers on the cabinets that contain waste bins.

This allows the cook to dispose of waste without having to touch cabinets with dirty hands.

The Kitchen is where the majority of a households garbage or waste is produced.

As a Professional Kitchen Designer it will be up to you to bring solutions to the table to successfully integrate waste management into your Kitchen Designs.

Let me know in the comments below if you are including waste management in your Kitchen Designs.

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Jan Rutgers B.Sc. H.Ec.

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

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