Composting Tumbler vs Bin

Picture of gardens with compost and organic material
Photo by Joao Vitor Marcilio on Unsplash

In order to start composting your first step is to decide on a composting tumbler vs bin.

In this post we’ll cover the pros and cons of a composting tumbler vs bin by reviewing a few options, including:

  • the GEOBIN Composting System (a composting bin)
  • the Algreen Soil Saver (also a composting bin)
  • the EJWOX Large Composting Tumbler (as the name suggests, a composting tumbler)

All of these composting systems are made of recycled plastic, so you earn some sustainability bonus points by avoiding “virgin” plastic. The bins go from beginner to more elaborate, and we give one bin a big thumbs down.

Unlike most review sites out there, we have owned and tested all of these compost bins over numerous years.

Composting is Nature’s Recycling Center

Still on the fence about composting (or buying recycled plastic products)? When you buy products made from recycled material and compost your organic waste, you reduce climate-crashing emissions. The EPA estimates that recycling and composting removed the equivalent of 42 million cars in 2018.

Just considering recycling plastics alone, even with a measly recycling rate of 9%, all you dedicated recyclers out there removed the equivalent of 1 million cars worth of pollution from the air!

Composting is like nature’s recycling center. But unlike most human-run recycling centers, there is little to no waste in the process.

If you’ve been to R&R before, you know we are huge proponents of composting. You can reduce the waste going to the landfill or being burned, increase the carbon sequestration of soil, and have a healthier garden too!

You can compost so much of your trash that would otherwise go in a landfill. Shred up your cardboard, junk mail, newspaper, throw in your paper towels instead of bagging and landfilling them. You will reduce emissions, speed up your compost, and keep your bin balanced between “green” and “brown” ingredients.

But as our name suggests, we also support recycling. Here is the good news:  by purchasing a compost bin made of recycled plastic, you score a two’fer – saving plastic waste from the landfill and beginning your journey with composting!

All of the companies below use recycled plastic for their compost bins, but not post-consumer recycled plastic (except the EJWOX bin). Post-consumer recycled plastic is generally preferred.

The recycled plastic is similar to the black, thick plastic used on recycled plastic rain barrels – industrial, strong, and able to weather outdoor wear and tear.

GEOBIN Composting System: A Good Beginner Compost Bin

Pros of the GEOBIN Composting System

  • Inexpensive
  • Very easy to set up
  • Effective for beginner composting
  • Excellent air flow to keep the compost cycle working

Cons of the GEOBIN Composting System

  • Open top does not keep rain or animals out
  • Difficult to get compost out
  • Can start to lean if waste piles up on one side
  • Made from “up to” 75% recycled plastic
  • You might need to create a level spot in your yard (because of the tendency to lean)

When you think about the composting tumbler vs bin argument, the GEOBIN provides a strong case for a bin: affordable and simple.

The GEOBIN composter is an entry level compost bin we tested a few years back. It is one of the least expensive, largest capacity composting bins on the market.

The GEOBIN backyard compost system is easy to set up and is ideal for beginners. This compost bin is very affordable, under $40. It is thus a low commitment if you are unsure about composting.

This bin is super simple, basically an open circular bin with no lid and perforated sides for air flow. Though we have since moved on to more elaborate bins, we found this bin easy to use and surprisingly effective.

Going Topless with the GEOBIN Composting System

We are fans of the GEOBIN but there are some downsides. The GEOBIN requires you to go topless – wait! Keep your shirt on, that isn’t what we meant. The bin is topless, like it has no lid.

An open top compost bin with no lid can be a problem. Your compost bin will be popular with the local squirrels as they “help” you get rid of some organic material by visiting you daily to pick out the best scraps.

Squirrels would often leave apple cores or other large remnants of a fruit or veggie in odd places, like on the top of a fence post or something. Not to the point of being a real problem, but kind of strange.

With no lid, rain gets in too. You won’t be able to regulate the amount of water in your compost pile. This results in a soggy compost pile occasionally. You will need to add dry materials to soak it up. 

Balance your compost by taking advantage of the huge amounts of carbon you need in shredded junk mail or newspaper (see our tips for using junk mail for stinky soggy compost), cardboard from pizza boxes, or if you happen to have it, sawdust (who doesn’t have piles of sawdust sitting around?! Ok, we admit, we don’t).

Challenges Retrieving Your “Black Gold” from the GEOBIN Composting System

If you are anxious to use the soil, or “black gold” you create from your food scraps, the GEOBIN presents challenges. The GEOBIN is basically a big plastic tube set on the ground.

To retrieve the soil at the bottom, you need to lift up and move the entire composter. This inevitably spills out all food scraps that haven’t broken down yet. 

It is not a deal-breaker if you plan to harvest the fresh nutrient rich soil once or twice per year. It will take you 4-6 months to produce usable compost anyway.

Finally, the GEOBIN has no base, again it is just a big recycled plastic tube. You’ll notice it can lean if waste piles up on one side. You must pick a level piece of ground for placement of the compost bin.

Our Favorite Recycled Plastic Compost Bin from Algreen’s

The Algreen Soil Saver compost bin has been our favorite of the three we have tested over the last few years. It is solidly built, large, and works great.

Pros of Algreen Soil Saver

  • Sturdy and effective
  • Easy to retrieve soil after composting cycle is complete
  • Will last many years, likely decades
  • Has secure lid that keeps animals and rain out
  • 100% recycled plastic

Cons of Algreen Soil Saver

  • Set-up is slightly more complex but still easy
  • Placed on the ground and is accessible by pests, rats, etc.

The Algreen Soil Saver compost bin is a winner. Unlike the GEOBIN, it has a tight fitting lid that keeps rain and critters out. It also has access doors on the sides to retrieve the soil at the end of the season.

The only problem with the Soil Saver, which is similar to the GEOBIN, is vermin. Since it is on the ground, persistent vermin will find their way into the compost pile if they want to.

Rats and vermin can be a problem with composting. Despite the secure lid, rats can chew through the thick plastic of the Soil Saver. Once they find your compost pile, they will come back again and again until you stop throwing in food scraps.

During the pandemic the entire world was turned upside down and the rats couldn’t find as much food in their favorite dumpsters. They eventually sniffed out our compost bin. Since then,  we stopped using it. It is a challenge of urban composting that you can read more about in our other post about the disadvantages of composting.

But all in all, when you are thinking over whether you want a composting tumbler vs bin, the Algreen Soil Saver should be on your shortlist to consider.

EJWOX Large Composting Tumbler: Rodent-free But Not Trouble-Free

When it comes to composting tumbler vs bin, we love the idea of a tumbler. Easy to turn your compost, raised off the ground for easy access, what is not to like? Unfortunately the only one we have tested didn’t make the cut.

EJWOX sells a tumbler-style compost bin made of recycled plastic. With this type of bin, you can avoid the problem of rats adopting your compost bin as their new favorite restaurant. However, whether you will be able to harvest any soil out of it is another question.

Pros ofEJWOX Large Composting Tumbler

  • Rodent-proof
  • EJWOX claims 100% post-consumer recycled plastic
  • Raised off the ground for easy access
  • Easy to turn compost

Cons of theEJWOX Large Composting Tumbler

  • Unless placed in covered area, doesn’t work
  • Poorly designed

Based on our testing, theEJWOX Large Composting Tumbler takes on excess water and does not drain properly. The result is a slimy, disgusting mess after each heavy rain.

We completed a little experiment, which you can watch in the video below, that illustrates the problem.

We tried to drill holes into the recycled plastic, lots of holes! It worked initially, helping the compost bin drain more quickly.

However, after a few weeks, the holes got clogged by the sludge of decomposing organic material. We eventually gave up and stopped adding our waste to the bin.

If you have a covered area outdoors, theEJWOX Large Composting Tumbler would work. However, besides the water drainage issue, it has other design flaws.

First, it will take you well over an hour to put it together. We watched the video and still had to take it apart once after making a mistake during the complicated assembly process.

Secondly, the sliding doors on the EJWOX Large Composting Tumbler are excessively small. It is very difficult to empty. You are certain to get slimy compost on your upper arms as you reach in to scoop out compost. 

The small openings cause other issues. Putting your food scraps can be challenging as well. This depends on the size of your indoor compost container. Our indoor compost container, part of this excellent trash can for low-waste households, happens to have an indoor compost container that fits perfectly with the opening of the EJWOX large composting tumbler.

Composting Tumbler vs Bin: Summary of Pros and Cons

Composting tumbler vs bin is a situation where you can’t necessarily go wrong (but we recommend looking around for a different tumbler than the EJWOX large composting tumbler). Both types have pros and cons though.

Composting tumblers are convenient. Tumblers are raised a few feet off the ground, making it easy for you to dump your organic waste into it. Turning the waste, a tactic you can use to speed up your composting, is simple with a composting tumbler.

However, composting tumblers tend to have smaller volumes than a composting bin. Also, it can be hard to retrieve the “black gold” left after the composting process is complete, especially if the doors on the tumbler are small.

Compost bins that rest on the ground are no fuss, no muss – they are easy to use and easy to put together. Buy a larger one and you’ll have ample volume to handle all your veggie scraps, shredded cardboard, coffee grinds, and all the other many many things you can divert from the landfill.

However, animals can easily access your compost bin since they are on the ground. Even with a tight lid on top, many animals will chew right through it.

Mostly, it does not matter if animals are helping you get rid of your organic waste. The one exception is rats – if your neighborhood tends to have rats around, you might want to consider a composting tumbler.

Composting is Easy, But Sometimes Not Simple

Don’t be scared away by all the rat and rodent talk. Between municipal run programs and backyard composting, millions of people compost in the U.S.

Our household composted for over a decade without any trouble with pests. We lived in a very urban area just a few blocks from restaurants and a vibrant commercial district. In ten years I saw zero rats or mice.

It is unlikely you’ll run into a rat problem with your compost bin. And though it can be a little messy and gross, it is also amazing to see the genius of nature. Mother Nature will turn your garbage into soil with little to no work from you.

It is an easy way to contribute to our global challenge to stop climate change, so give it a try!

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