Today we’re looking at the rectangular sensor trash can from simplehuman.
Whatever cheap plastic receptacle is currently holding your trash is a piece of garbage itself. I'd never truly thrown trash away until I had my first encounter with simplehuman's sensor can. If you're a regular reader then you know that I like to cover some obscure pieces of fringe tech. I've seen everything from a bluetooth showerhead to a piece of Samsonite-designed luggage that turns into a scooter. I'm always trying to show a more interesting way to transform the mundane. As a result, my singing in the shower is a much fuller experience than yours is. Now I can say the same about my trash can. Can a garbage bin be exciting? Read on...
Main advantage: touch free design, great stainless finish, fingerprint-proof, different sizes available
Main concern: Bit of an investment for a trash can, no included power adapter on top of premium price
Unique features: sensor tech that actually works, custom fit liners available
A touch-free trash can. When you read that doesn't it strike you odd that any of us still touch a trash can? We live in the future for crying out loud! Tech is cheap enough and efficient enough and we should all have magic vacuum tubes built into out homes that automatically eliminate any and all waste. The next best thing might be this trash can. It's available in different shapes and sizes, I received the 40 liter rectangular can for this review. The rectangular shape is the most efficient in my opinion, round might look nice but the majority of us don't have rounded walls. Kitchens and Bathrooms are the showpieces of the modern home, we easily spend thousands on stainless steel appliances. After all of that, most will still throw a plain plastic can in the corner or under the sink. Why?
Trash is dirty. Trash is potentially dangerous. Trash can even spread disease when it's improperly handled food waste. When you're handling a volatile product like that, why would you want to reach out and open a cabinet door to access your hidden trash can? Especially a cabinet at the perfect height for little hands and mouths. We think we are being careful but we are really presenting a whole new set of issues. Why not tackle the problem head on and look good while doing it? That's what this can aims to do; in my opinion, it succeeds with flying colors. You have three basic issues with a freestanding trashcan. Surface contaminants, aesthetics, and odor.
Surface contaminants aren't an issue because of the touch-free design. Three basic modes keep things hands off, ready mode, task mode, and stay-open mode. Depending on how long you trigger the sensor it will decide which mode to engage. Ready mode is the basic always on functionality. It will open with a wave of a hand, but it shouldn't be triggered as you're casually passing by. This worked well enough, but if something lingers over the front sensor for any period of time the lid will open. Task mode is more sensitive. The lid stays open longer and monitors all movement, it won't close until you walk away. Deliberately hold your hand over the sensor for several seconds and the lid opens full and triggers stay open mode. In stay open mode the lid stays up for 30 seconds regardless of the sensor. Great for repetitive tasks where you'll need to move back and forth from the can. One unfortunate observation was that a shadow can trigger the sensor. I had enough space between my refrigerator and counter to tidily slide the can in between with a little room to spare. Unfortunately I couldn't leave it there though because the looming shadow of the refrigerator would continually trigger the can. If there is about 4” of space between the front of the can and a large object you'll be fine. Any closer and you might register false triggers though. The can is really designed to have it's back to a wall with an unobstructed front. Realistically, you won't want to hide it away anyways because it's designed to be shown off.
That brings the next issue forward, aesthetics. The simple and seamless design means that this trashcan shows up just about everything else in my older kitchen. It's modern without being gaudy and the simple black lines that show through accentuate the steel. The last concern is odor. A trash can in the middle of the room is a potentially smelly mess. Simplehuman does a few things to alleviate the odor issue. First and foremost is a built in under lid natural charcoal filter dubbed the “odorsorb” No flowers and cinnamon mixed with garbage, this absorbs odors instead of trying to cover up the problem with a stronger artificial scent. You can even “recharge” the filters, 3 hours of sunlight every 4-6 weeks should bring the filter back to life when odors start to win the battle. The filter definitely works for basic garbage, if you're throwing away a wheel of blue cheese once a week you'll still get some smell, this isn't magic. The filters are very cheap and you can even purchase a stick on kit to install this filter in any trash bin in your home. In the couple of months testing the can I haven't needed to replace the filter. A few more steps that help to stop odor before it's an issue are efficient design features. Simplehuman sells custom fit liners for it's cans that help to seal things so that garbage won't leak into the can itself. If you do spill a bit, the inner bucket is removable, simple take it outside and rinse and dry. The integrated “bucket park” feature is a small shelf that allows you to lift and rest the inner bucket. You can then let go and easily tie and remove the full garbage liner with both hands free.
The last thing to touch on is power. Most of us haven't had to consider electricity and trashcans yet. We live in the future though. There are less and less products that don't have the potential to beep and blink. The can is either powered by six C batteries (not included) or an optional power adapter. The batteries are rated to last up to one full year depending on use. Who needs to be throwing old fashioned batteries in the garbage these days (hahahahahhaha) We are increasingly a culture of rechargeable and always on. I went for the adapter, some might find issues accessing a plug in the kitchen that can be permanently used for the trash can. This is even further complicated by the much too short power adapter cord. It's nice that they include international adapters for those that like to travel with their can (kidding) but they need to extend the cord by about two feet at least and throw the adapter in for free. This is not a cheap trash can and the extra cost of the power adapter will turn many off to the idea entirely. Luxury means excess, it means not wanting for anything with one purchase. To already have the built in profits from potential can liner and filter sales and still charge for the adapter is too much.
Thank you again to simplehuman for supplying their product for review.
Alternatives: none to match the fit and finish of this piece
What's in the box: Trash can, inner bucket, charcoal filter, trial pack of fitted liners, and instructions for use
Is it worth buying: The motor is rated to last for up to 150,000 uses. That roughly translates into 20 times a day for 20 years. The can costs a bit, but it's meant to last. To grow old with you and still perform. You'll get a 5 year warranty to start and things like the inner bucket and motor are replaceable if you see a problem that can't be fixed out of warranty. When you're doing well enough to treat yourself, you should think of the things you touch every single day. Spend thousands on a fancy wall oven and you might touch it once a year on thanksgiving. You touch your trashcan many times a day every single day. Stop touching your trashcan in style. Buy with confidence.
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!