The humble bin may not be the most riveting possession you own but it's actually a hugely fundamental part of keeping a modern clean environment within your food preparation or working area. On this basis we decided to take a look at the very latest offering within this often much-ignored household purchase area, which is exactly why we have been using the £149 simplehuman 45 litre Semi-Round Sensor Bin - the bin that opens for you.
This 45 litre capacity semicircular stainless steel bin looks roughly the same size as the 30 litre plastic bin it replaced purely due to the curved shape that makes it appear to take up less space than it does. Maximum capacity is also helped by the fact that the purpose made liners fit perfectly, allowing them to fill the entire inside of the bin without any possibility of splitting however much you compact the rubbish within.
We've noticed that plastic bins have a lifespan of roughly 3-4 years before they either crack or become too soiled to use, whereas stainless steel bins can last much longer, and this simplehuman bin is made from a high-quality stainless steel that is antimicrobial and finger-print proof and this includes the bin lid too. The base, hinge covering and underside of the lid are made of a tough grey durable plastic and the hinge covering continues down the back of the bin to incorporate the clever liner storage feature which we've never seen on a bin before. The battery compartment, which takes two AA batteries that are supplied, is placed neatly below this feature.
The sensor which makes the bin open automatically when you reach to put things in it is placed within the front of the rim, and the rim is deep enough to make sure there is no unsightly view of the plastic liner. It is this attention to detail and lack of any scrimping in design and finish that make this simplehuman bin particularly special and worthy of high praise for design and craftsmanship.
On first inspection everyone wants to find an excuse to put something in the bin just to see the automatic lifting lid in action. There is no doubt that there is a hypnotic effect about the lid lifting as the sensor detects your hand approaching and we even find the office cat is mesmerised as she watches the lid slowly descend all on its own after the rubbish has been deposited.
The clever thing about this automatic feature is that the lid remains open when you are scraping scraps off a plate or emptying a cleaner dust-bag because it detects your presence. This sensitivityis inbuilt to increase during use so that the lid won't close while you are using it. A blue light on top of the underside of the lid allows you to know when the sensor is at work and this will turn red when the batteries are in need of changing - but we have not yet experienced this.
Although there is a novelty aspect to a self-opening bin, the fact is that, once in daily use, you quickly realise it is something that is particularly hygienic and practical. You can carry on cooking without having to wash your hands every time you visit the bin, and you don't even need a free foot available at the correct angle as you would with a foot-pedal bin. The whole issue of throwing away waste becomes simple and clean, with no unnecessary fuss.
We have found the aluminium finish does remain finger-print free and is easy to wipe clean should it be necessary, and there has certainly been no letup in the ability of the motor to quietly open the lid, despite truly constant usage. simplehuman say the batteries will last for around a year and the bin is guaranteed five years which does give piece of mind.
Now 'emptying the bin' is something everyone tends to avoid. It is often a case of concern about freeing the liner without it splitting and basically worrying that the whole business will be messy and difficult, then there is the problem of having to remember where the new liners are kept and having to find them and unravel one from a roll, simplehuman have overcome all these problems and truly accomplished the impossible: they have made 'emptying the bin' a pleasurable thing that occurs at greater intervals due to the high capacity of the bin.
Firstly, with the simplehuman 45 litre Semi-Round Sensor bin we find that the contents become compacted to fill the whole of the inside because the liner fits so perfectly. Secondly, once the liner is full to the brim of the bin, it can be lifted out by its handles and there is always enough space to tie the handles and completely hide the contents. Thirdly, the heavily full liner is so strong that it will not split and actually holds the semicircular shape of the bin whilst being removed for waste collection. Then finally, the new liner is located on the inside of the back of the bin to simply pull out and place within - truly simple!
The way the bags dispense is like tissues from a tissue box, so there is always one ready to pull. As you approach the end of these there is a label attached to let you know to reorder.
The simplehuman bags are of a much better quality than those normally associated with bins, but it's worth noting that they are definitely worth purchasing. If you try to use cheaper ill-fitting or thinner alternatives then some of the advantages of having this superb bin will be removed. We found 100 refills for this 45 litre bin for sale at £12.00 which was a great buy as they would normally be more, but the fact is that we are only using one a week, whereas we used to use two or three in the old plastic 30 litre bin. Basically they work out less expensive than cheaper alternatives because of the precise fit and ability to hold waste without ripping.
To sum up
Whilst the decision on purchasing a waste bin is often treated with a disdainful attitude to the product, and the thought tends towards buying cheap, the truth is that it is an essential and very necessary part of any kitchen or working area and needs to be easy and clean to use as well as looking good. Now that we have lived with the simplehuman 45 litre Semi-Round Sensor Bin, with its automatic opening lid, we realise that this is one of those products that is actually worth the extra initial cost because it fulfils its purpose perfectly and is brilliantly crafted out of top quality material, meaning it could well last for a great many years still looking good and working well. Most importantly, of course, it 'lifts the lid' on the whole messy bin business, making the removal of rubbish a pleasurable and hygienic activity.