The Different Types of Trash Cans

The Different Types of Trash Cans

Trash gets everywhere, so everywhere needs a trash can. But the receptacle that goes in an upscale office doesn’t quite fit outside at a park. Every space needs its own type of trash can, and if you’re a business owner or city manager, there are several variables to look at before making a purchase. This guide to the different types of trash cans will walk you through your material options, indoor vs. outdoor bins, and several common specialty cans.


Long gone are the days when the prototypical round, steel garbage bins dominated the trash landscape (think Oscar the Grouch). Though they’re still out there, other metal bins are in use as well as increasingly popular concrete and plastic varieties. Each has its own place, which we’ll explore.


Modern galvanized steel bins’ claim to fame is, like their predecessors, their durability and simplicity. Metal can take a beating without breaking or bending, making metal trash cans ideal for outdoor environments. That said, steel’s smooth, glossy finish in modern models matches the sophistication of an office too. If you go the metal route in this setting (or your home), you’ll find your bins become a feature of your interior design rather than an unsightly distraction. Plus, metal is inherently easy to clean and maintain, saving your staff time and keeping your office looking fresh.


When you think of the park where you played while growing up, down to the trash cans you threw your juice boxes into, you may recall concrete trash receptacles. These hefty cans also stand the test of time, tougher and heavier in most cases than their metal counterparts. Because of their weight, there’s little chance someone will nab one of these from where it sits or knock it over.

Typically, these cans include a textured concrete container coupled with a metal or plastic lid. Because of their weight and look, you don’t often see concrete bins inside.


Meanwhile, you can find plastic bins littered (pun intended) throughout various industries and spaces. Thicker, upscale plastic bins fit in an office environment while more utilitarian iterations are at home on the manufacturing floor or in residences.

Plastic’s calling card is its combo of high durability and low weight. The high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic resin that constitutes them makes these properties possible. As a result, they last a while (though not as long as metal or concrete bins) and are easy to move around. Their weight also means they are simple to clean out, something you may need to do often depending on your industry.

Another benefit is plastic’s low production costs. If you don’t need to fuss over a trash can’s looks and want to mind your bottom line, plastic is a natural choice.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Another useful dichotomy here is between indoor and outdoor trash cans. Each setting has unique needs that bins must address. Here’s how each setting informs varied bin shape and constitution.


Indoor bins have two distinctions: how they serve a space’s style and the place they take in trash (e.g., via a lid or hinged panel, etc.).


Because these bins are away from animals, rain, snow, and ice, they don’t need any sort of shield or protective devices. This simplifies their look and allows designers the freedom to focus on aesthetics. It would surprise you how seamlessly an indoor trash bin can blend into a room’s style. You’ll want to purchase a can that keeps odors from wafting over to customers or staff—it could look like a million bucks, but if it stinks, then it isn’t doing its job. And when presentation is unimportant—think a plastic bin in a warehouse—this simplicity translates to ease of use.

Small Size

As a rule, an indoor trash can tends to be smaller than an outdoor one, usually less than 30 gallons. One reason is an indoor environment often has a high concentration of bins at many points, meaning no one receptacle accumulates an overwhelming amount of waste. And if the can resides in a bathroom or lobby, the trash it’ll hold will not be significant in size.

But the overarching reason for their small size is they accommodate trash directly from the consumer. That trash doesn’t sit there long but rather transitions to another bin that stores it until waste services empty them. It doesn’t take many gallons of space to accommodate this early phase.

The Half-Moon

One common receptacle in office environments is the half-moon trash bin, otherwise known as the profile side bin. This form appears cut in half down the center—one edge is flat while the other retains a curve. This saves space by hugging an office wall without losing any functionality.


On the other hand, outdoor bins must be ready for whatever nature or people throw at them.


Outdoor cans have lids, covers, or other features that keep animals and rain/snow out. These measures lower maintenance requirements, simplify pickup, and keep cans presentable and functional. Also, they are usually heavier so high winds don’t move them.

For parks and wildlife-heavy locales, animal resistant boxes have just the right shape and materials to keep invading raccoons, rats, and even bears at bay.


Overflowing trash cans are unseemly. To ensure they can handle a substantial capacity, they hold 30 or more gallons of waste. This is important for receptacles without others nearby—they serve as visitors’ only point of access and must be ready for trash fluctuations.

Wheeled Cans

One common outdoor option, a staple of most homes and other places, is the wheeled plastic bin. This type has a high capacity, a protective lid, and a handle and wheels for efficient transport. Without needing to lift the receptacle, people find it easy to move heavy loads of waste.

Specialty Cans

While materials and indoor vs. outdoor cover some different types of trash cans, there are some unique ones still worth a mention.

Trash ’n Ash

A cigarette is a form of waste, yet its smoldering end can ignite a fire when thrown in a trash can. To promote cigarette disposal without risking a fire, look into a trash can with an ashtray built in.


Trash cans can be fun too. Some creative designers, with the aim of promoting good disposal habits in kids, make their receptacles look like cute animals, space ships, or other funky forms.

Wipe Dispenser

Now more necessary than ever as the coronavirus spreads, many receptacles offer a combo wipe dispenser and trash can. These allow for cleanliness without producing a lot of litter.

Medical Waste Bin

In medical facilities, hands-free medical waste bins are crucial to efficiency and safety. Some are built for the disposal of needles or other “sharps,” while others can hold hazardous materials.

If you’re in the market for some high-quality trash receptacles, get in touch with Trash Cans Depot. We’re a trash can company that prides ourselves on our wide range of excellently designed cans.

The Different Types of Trash Cans