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How to Get Your Pullout Waste and Recycling Cabinets Just Right

Waste pullouts are a secret weapon of the well-oiled kitchen machine. They do the dirty job of handling your garbage, recycling and more. In fact, a waste or recycling pullout is the most popular specialty drawer feature among homeowners who are remodeling a kitchen, according to the latest Houzz research. But what makes them better than a regular garbage can? Actually, a pullout bin can have quite a few advantages, both in style and function. Here are some reasons why a humble pullout cabinet for waste deserves a little consideration and a space in your kitchen.
Muse Architects
Out of Sight, Out of Mind

When you think about your dream kitchen, what do you imagine? I’ll bet the garbage bin is not the first thing that comes to mind. But then, this is the whole point of a waste pullout: It tucks the garbage, recycling and other waste bins out of sight but within easy access. That way you don’t have to look at a messy freestanding bin or struggle with a tiny, seemingly always full can tucked under the sink.
ATD Contracting Services Inc.
Seamless Integration

Because a waste pullout is essentially just a very deep drawer, it can easily be integrated into the look of your cabinetry, bringing some great contemporary functionality to very traditional or transitional style.
Mullet Cabinet
In fact, it’s quite common for a pullout drawer to be faced out with multiple false fronts to help it blend more seamlessly into a cabinet scheme. Here the three-drawer front on the pullout copies the look of the nearby drawers so the look of the Shaker fronts isn’t interrupted by a single massive drawer. Nobody would guess what was inside.
Space Craft Joinery
Ease of Use

If you cook often, one of the trickiest and yet most common tasks is sweeping away the remnants from chopping. You can carefully carry a chopping board to the bin, or you can bring the bin to the chopping board. Locating your garbage or compost pullout below a chopping zone means you can sweep waste directly into the bin with ease.
Sustainable Kitchens
Notice how this kitchen has a discreet waste cabinet below the butcher block section of the counter. Before, you might not have noticed this powerful combo, but now that you know what to look for, you’ll notice it every time.
Stringer Construction & Design
Here’s another smart take on this idea: a pullout chopping block (in place of a typical drawer) positioned above a waste pullout, with a simple hole to allow for trimmings to be swept directly into the bin. A great option for small kitchens, as the whole chopping station can be closed away when not in use, and the main counter can still be used for other things.
Arbor Mills
Waste Sorting

Pullout cabinets aren’t just useful for holding your garbage bins. More and more cities today not only facilitate recycling or composting, they also require some level of waste sorting, and this requires managing multiple bins.
Hardware Resources
Depending on the system you use, you can easily have space for two sizable bins, or many smaller ones, configured with one tucked behind the other in a full-depth cabinet, or side by side, or many other configurations to suit your typical needs.
SGDI - Sarah Gallop Design Inc.
For example, this system uses four small angled bins, which allow for waste, organics, papers, and plastics and other recyclables to all go in their own compartments within one convenient drawer.
Affecting Spaces
This wide drawer places multiple sizable bins side by side, while still leaving room in the back for the sink plumbing. Ultimately, the exact configuration that’s best for you will depend on your layout and your typical food waste, but a system like this that holds freestanding bins can always be reconfigured a bit down the line if your needs change.
The ALNO Store Bristol
Odor Control

One major concern that people often have with waste bins is the odors that can linger in the kitchen. There are several possible ways to combat this issue, and one is by using compartments with individual lids for organic waste.
Designs for Living, Inc.
Some waste pullout systems even integrate a special bin with a securely sealing lid specifically to hold compost, so you don’t have to change it with excessive frequency just to keep odors in check. Keep in mind how quickly it will fill; you’ll want to plan ahead so that organic waste isn’t left sitting exposed to air for too long.
Another option is to put different types of waste into their own cabinets with appropriately sized bins so that you only have to open the relevant compartment at any particular time. You can devote more space for plastics and less for compost, or vice versa, depending on your needs.
Saikley Architects
All-in-One Storage

If you want to make sure nobody has an excuse for not changing the bin when it’s full, try a drawer that includes a small storage drawer inside, and you can keep garbage bags and related products right by the bins themselves.
Studio Dearborn
You can also use interior drawers to split compartments into smaller subcompartments or to keep cleaning products or deodorizers on hand.
Studio Dearborn
I particularly enjoy this unique setup that features a spot for paper towels next to the waste bins.
Studio Dearborn
It’s also part of a small drawer for keeping towels, so not an inch of space is wasted — charming and extremely practical all at once.
SGDI - Sarah Gallop Design Inc.
A Fit for Any Budget

Want a fully luxe look? For just a little extra investment, a system like this one with side panels (which can be custom fitted by your cabinetmaker) will more fully cover the bins for a discreet look even while the cabinet is pulled open.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the budget spectrum, pullout systems integrated into a standard door cabinet can turn any underused space into a garbage pullout with room for multiple bins without a total renovation. Plus, for dexterous chefs, they can be pulled and pushed by foot to facilitate disposal even when hands are full.