Compost bin: on counter or below counter?

neeter3148March 17, 2008

Hi All,

I'm trying to figure out what to do with the compost bin. Currently, we have this square plastic container which the frozen creme puffs came in on the counter next to the sink. My husband likes press pot coffee so the coffee grounds make a huge mess all around. I want to find a solution for my new kitchen for it.

I've seen a picture in a book where they put in a stainless steel square container (think cafeteria) in a drawer. First of all, where would you get one. Second, will the coffee grounds get all over the floor as your emptying the press pot?

Maybe this will work for us since there is a drawer above the pull out trash/recycle drawer.

I've also seen pictures of someone putting a hole in the countertop with the bin in it. Our counter will be Stainless Steel with undermount or integrated SS sink so there are NO CREVICES to catch coffee grounds (are you getting the feeling I hate coffee grounds?)

Oh, and it has to be pretty big b/c my kids love fruit and one meals worth it overflows potato peels, etc.

What's your solution?


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A few things:

1) You can get those stainless steel "hotel trays" at restaurant supply stores.

2) For coffee grounds, I use an old tomato can (or use a coffee can or something similar). I can then move it into the sink when I dump the grounds. That means I can easily rinse them away.

3) For other compost items (veggie scraps) we currently use a plastic bag (emptied daily) but will be going to something like in (1) when we move next month.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 1:54PM
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We use this brushed metal bin (next to paper towel holder):

Bought it at Target several years ago. I get filter refills from Gaiam. It's got a handle so it's easy to lift & carry over to the sink or out to the compost heap.

Here is a link that might be useful: Compost Crock & Filters

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 2:32PM
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I planned a 2 basket recycling/trash base cabinet that has a drawer immediately above it. I'm hoping to use the drawer (lined well, please) for "green waste." I do think that this is one item that needs to be easily accessible and taken outside every day (green waste left overnight gets really nasty), so I'm a little worried about the out of sight/out of mind factor.
I'm also glad to see that other consumers are planning and acting green!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 2:40PM
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We have a copper compost pail on the countertop. We get coffee grounds everywhere no matter what (the just-ground coffee that's still dry is even worst, IMHO!), so we have to just wipe down the counter regularly.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 3:15PM
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I use a stainless steel bucket on the counter, but don't drink coffee so I don't have the grounds problem. With a good airtight lid it doesn't need to be emptied every day.

The part I don't like is needing a hand to lift the lid and hold it, then only having one hand to get the stuff into the bucket. I'm thinking of a small stainless pedal bin on the floor instead. If I can use a pedal bin for garbage, why not for compost? (duh)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 3:58PM
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CelticMoon did a drawer lined with a metal tray for compost. It seems as though it is quite successful. I had thought about doing the same thing, but my drawer over the trash doesn't seem quite deep enough. Also, during the planning stages, I thought I would be standing at that counter while doing veggie prep. It turns out I accumulate most of the food scraps in the prep sink and at the peninsula counter--not on the counter where I could just open the drawer and swipe them in. Since I have to pick up the scraps anyway, it doesn't make sense to use such a shallow space. I'm considering a door mounted trash with cover that automatically lifts off when the door is opened. I've linked to an example below.

Presently, we use a countertop can, with odor filter in the lid, like abbycat has. Before the kitchen reno I used a stainless steel stock pot (a friend got me one after she got tired of seeing cut off gallon milk jugs and washed out ice cream containers on our counter for collecting the scraps.) But I agree with kevinw1 that the worse part is removing the lid and dealing with both the lid and scraps--if the lid is at all gunky, I hate to put it down on the counter.

Here is a link that might be useful: door mount trash

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 4:43PM
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i saw a picture in a magazine once where the people had a little door in their backsplash that opened into a chute through which the compostables were deposited into a garbage can outside. i thought it was the coolest thing. you'd have to have an exterior wall you could punch through, though, and a decent spot outside where it wouldn't be annoying to have your compost bin.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 6:08PM
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I bought myself this SS compost pail from Lee Valley. I also bought the compostable liners made from vegetable oil and corn starch. For us, I need to empty the bag about once a week, it's great, cuz before I would put ice cream pails of compost on the deck (didn't always get them to the bin right away, and raccoons, etc, would often make a mess. This way in the bag, no little critters get into it.

I keep the pail under the sink, am always surprised at how many people keep it on the counter, just not a big deal for me to bend down, lift up lid and put in the compost. Though, I've been composting for over 30 years, so just do it as a matter of course. Just think the drawer idea would get pretty skanky after a while. I think you'd have to have some type of liner on the top of the cupboard to keep condensation/odours from the rest of your cupboard.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 7:38PM
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We also have daily coffee grounds and compost. I have a simple system: a large tupperware under the sink. Yeah, you have to reach down to fill it but I like that better than on the counter. In the summer when we do more fresh produce and lots of corn on the cob stalks I use my old diaper pail which is awesome. Yes, I actually did cloth diapers and have a great super tight diaper pail which is perfect for the job. (the kids are now college age- no more diapers!). Here's to composting and happy gardening with the proceeds.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 7:59PM
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I use an attractive stainless steel cooking pot (about 4 quarts?) right on the counter top. No special filters or anything - just a pot with a cover. Here in the temperate Bay Area, it's rarely very hot, so it doesn't get smelly for days most of the time, even if left uncovered. Of course, it looks nicer covered! It looks something like the photo, but with a ss lid, not glass.

Here is a link that might be useful: pot for compost

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 8:45PM
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" Yes, I actually did cloth diapers and have a great super tight diaper pail which is perfect for the job. (the kids are now college age- no more diapers!). Here's to composting and happy gardening with the proceeds."

Maybe diaper genie will make a biodegrable bag and I could use that . . . a sausage link of compost.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 8:57PM
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I started something new this winter. Not sure if it will work or not. When I have green waste, I take a newspaper and wrap the waste along with my morning grounds in it. I have several 5 gal buckets outside on the deck and I put the newspaper in it. I go down to the garden everyday in the summer but only every two weeks or so in the winter (that's why I need more than one. The waste is usually pretty wet so I figured the paper would absorb some of it. They say newspaper is good in the garden so I'll see what the compost pile looks like later this summer.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 9:41PM
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We use the same Lee Valley pail as raehelen. It comes in two sizes; we use the smaller size for on top of the counter but it's still our old kitchen! The top is heavy enough to hold down by itself but it rests lightly so you don't have to tug it off, just pick it up. After years of other options, this is a really good one.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 9:45PM
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I keep mine in a 2 gallon plastic cat food bucket in the cabinet underneath the sink. I stash the newspaper that lines the bottom of the birdcage into the bucket along with veggie peels, etc. The newspaper absorbs most of the odor.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 11:05PM
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I use a plastic cat litter container under our sink. Newspapers are fine for the garden as long as they aren't glossy, colored advertising/magazine sections. I like the tight fitting lid and handle since during the winter I only empty my compost pail once a week or once every two weeks ... and then it goes down to the cellar where I have a worm farm (red wigglers) in a large Rubbermaid tote (with air holes). During the summer, large amounts of green waste like corn cobs and leaves go directly into the garden where I started a "lasagna garden". If I'm doing a lot of cooking such as making a big vegetable soup, I bring the compost pail out from under the sink. If it isn't full it's also light enough to hold up to the counter to push in a pile of peels.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 2:52PM
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We got a green plastic bin from Lee Valley, linked here:,33140&ap=1

We installed it on the inside of the cabinet door directly under the sink, just like in the diagram they show. Very easy access and hidden away.

- Don

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 3:10PM
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Mine was the stainless bin in a drawer. Google 'hotel tray' I was half crazy trying to find a tray or tupperware bin the right width and depth, then someone here pointed me to hotel trays (love this Forum, hey?) They come in many sizes. I got 2 so I could have one in play while the other is in the DW. Make sure the lid does not have a notch for a serving spoon. Works well, though I'd like to rig something so the lid lifts away when I open the drawer and drops back when I close the drawer. For now I just slide the lid back and forth. There is dead space at the back of the drawer where I park my potato ricer and a couple other rarely used things.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 11:28PM
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I have my compost in a small pedal operated trash can, in the cabinet under my prep sink. So I can clean veggies, step on the pedal and toss peels, stems, etc. right in without stooping to open it up. The prep sink is across from the coffee pot, so the grounds don't have to travel far either. The container has a plastic pail inside with a handle, for the trip to/from the outdoor compost bin. Seems to work for me. Before we did the Kitchen, we had the compost bin on the countertop, and it didn't work for got in the way, and the odor didn't help either!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mini Round trash cans

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 9:11AM
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I've been thinking of getting one of these.

We currently have a plastic compost bucket with handle that we bought many years ago. We keep it under the sink. Works well but the plastic is harder to keep clean than I think ceramic or stainless would be.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 9:46AM
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I have the pail that Judy shows above, but mine is cobalt blue. I got it at and you can get the compostable liners for it too. It's pretty, but I still keep it under the sink most of the time.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 11:32AM
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I keep a ceramic bowl on the counter that I use during prep, then empty it into the copper pail that stays under the sink. The pail gets emptied every day or two.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 11:31PM
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What size was your compost bin drawer insert Celtic Moon? I have been pricing steam trays for restaurant and found the Vollrath line which seems well made and strong, and a lid for them.They have them in 2.5, 4 and 6" but they have to be a size to be able to be carried and still hold a decent amount so I was thinking of the 4". The drawer will be made by my husband exactly the right dimensions for it How do you lift it out? Can you tell me what depth this is? And how long? The ones I see are 20". And how does the lid slide back? Just manually?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:12AM
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Slow food, this thread is 6 years old - it might get more responses if you start a new thread with your question.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:36PM
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Thanks a lot SJHockey! I will do.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:50PM
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Ahhh... wow. Never know what you'll find when you google. There was a thread - many threads no doubt, on this subject but at least one to which I contributed a couple years back. I googled and found this on pinterest, which I've never even visited; it's my kitchen!:

Let me report that a couple years forward I consider my long-standing compost issue a complete non-issue now. All those years buying expensive compost buckets that break, being given wacky devices with filters and odor soakers and the rest .... all nonsense. For me, the solution was simple in the end. I have two sinks. Next to one is built in an open shelf, into which I set a plastic square food-service type bin. They're cheap, about $5 for the container and the same for the cover. They are, therefore, easy to replace for little money, but being plastic and a heavy duty good quality plastic at that, just don't need replacing. I think I have replaced them once in a couple years? Or maybe I just thought about it ... I do find that the opaque and not clear bins are better. Having an open shelf for the bucket makes it easy to just stuff the container in there off the counter when I am overtaken with a rare fit of cleanliness. I usually grab it back out within 5 minutes, but it's easy when the shelf is open like that.

I have three bins total, a 4qt one and 2 2qt ones. The 2 qt ones fit, end to end, in the space as pictured on pinterest. It's the top of a totally groovy, very expensive rev-a-shelf double bin trash pullout. The cans are stainless steel and hence worth their weight in gold, evidently. The small sizes work great for me, I think the small container is 10L and the larger is 20L. Here's the piece.

On top of that plastic shelf you can make out above the section the bins pull out of, is where I set the two smaller food service bins. Wow, Look at all the products this company has. The bins are called Camsquares, but any food service store will carry them for cheap.

My cabinet is taller than the pull out bins need so as to leave space up top on that plastic shelves to set the compost. Those go at the food cleanup sink, the larger bucket at the prep sink. I prefer smaller bins for all of the above and just to take it out more often. Smell is *never* a problem unless I forget that third container back there! Which is just as well, how else would you know there had been an oversight?

Do search the archives on GW on this topic. The subject has been explored for years. Some folks have some pretty imaginative solutions, with drawers that have overlids, and inset circles into the counters, etc. For the long haul, I recommend simple=good. Grunge happens and builds up and I think it's better to have cheap, easy, replaceable with time. I scrub my bins every time they come back from a compost dump but still, eventually they get a little grubby. I have nothing invested in plastic tubs, so that's easy to just change out.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 6:00PM
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Thanks so much for the reply, Aliris. You were great to write so much detailed information. I agree about the simple. I am currently using a Lee Valley stainless steel compost bin (don't know how to make a live link on here).

I am thinking that on the simple line (simple=best) a drawer under my chopping block with a simple stainless steam tray will be best. No need for a cover as the drawer will close when I am not using it. And I will just open it to scoop stuff into when I am preparing. I am not wanting something which will end up on my counter of my island, which, knowing me, is what will happen if I have to think about putting it away. I just won't do that very often. So having a drawer to close (which I will have to do) is ideal.
I am in Canada and can find the tray for about $25 I think. I wasn't sure of how deep will work, so will give that more thought.
Many thanks again. Fancy seeing your kitchen setup on Pinterest which I hadn't been to either!
I found this site by doing a Google search too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Lee Valley Stainless steel compost bin

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 6:20PM
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Hey SFC - here's the thread with the compost drawer:

There are lots of pictures and discussion of the matter there. Obviously, it depends how you use your kitchen. But for me I like to be able to move the place the scrap-collector is, so fixing it below the pullout cutting drawer would be a real hindrance. I like to move around with my cutting boards, have others helping (oh I wish -- that one's a fantasy, I'll allow!), etc.

How are you going to clean that drawer? I understand it will probably have a removable sleeve, but won't stuff sometimes miss or get caught in cracks? Also, isn't a drawer big?

Check out the archives -- this has been hashed and rehashed and I recall at least one (Kashmi, here), who just *loved* theirs. So I believe it will work for some!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:07PM
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The drawer is just to hold a stainless steel steam pan which will be removed for emptying and washing. Then it gets closed out of sight. The drawer will be just under my end grain chopping board section of the island where the food preparation will take place. At the moment I carry my compost over to the pail by the sink. This has to be better than that.

The edges should be almost at the sides. Should work but we will see.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:19PM
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I also love our compost solution, which is a hole in the counter with a bin underneath. We love it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:45AM
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Hi Oliver,
That does look exactly like what we had in France (called a Holey Bin) and we looked at that here too, but it takes up a lot of counter space in a smallish island and will be very difficult to cut into 12" square granite tile surface. Not sure if that will be the answer here. It's also very expensive in Canada.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:00AM
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It does take up counter space, but the lid is flush, so I can still lay my cutting board right across it if needed.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:45PM
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We too have the inset Solon composter. It holds much more than my previous on-the-counter version (but I do wish it could hold even more). I would cut the hole in the counter again in a heartbeat - love having this.

12" drawer in front (vs. tip out tray).

I have to admit it's one of the 'coolest' things in the kitchen. Love having people ask me - say, what's that silver thing over there...?

Good luck and please post pictures of the solution you end up selecting!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:12PM
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Thank you so much OB!
Two reasons I think the Solon is out:
Very expensive to buy it (budget is tight)
Can't afford to lose counter space on top (island includes a 15" square sink and total size including work surface is only 33" by 59" ish approx.
I will have a look at it again, as it does look good, as you show here. We might be able to have a bit more length as we are having a wood chopping block one end. And not so hard to cut the hole. But harder to keep clean.
We don't have anything to cut a round hole in the granite tiles.... I wonder how we can do that.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:44PM
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Post a thread on 'how to cut round hole in square tiles', I'm sure the knowledgeable folks here will come up with some ideas. Tiles will be placed on wood, I'm assuming. Yes it's an expensive item but it will never break and you will use it daily. Mock up where you prep - for me, the composter is behind my cutting board. I usually don't have anything on top but easily could.

Remember, if you like the idea... You can always save for it and implement later, if you leave the space for it now.

Good luck! Oldbat2be

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:13PM
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