Best Recycled Plastic Compost Bins

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

Composting is a miracle of nature. You throw a bunch of garbage into a black bin and in a few weeks it disappears. And in return for your trash? Nature leaves you with nutrient rich soil.

In this post we’ll review 3 types of compost bins made of recycled plastic. The bins go from beginner to more elaborate, and we give one bin a big thumbs down.

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.

For plastics alone, even with a measly recycling rate of 9%, you recyclers out there removed the equivalent of 1 million cars!

Composting is Nature’s Recycling Center

Composting is the equivalent of 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 for energy, increase the carbon sequestration of soil, and have a healthier garden too!

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’s Beginner Recycled Plastic Compost Bin

Pros of the GEOBIN Recycled Plastic Compost Bin

  • Inexpensive
  • Very easy to set up
  • Effective for beginner composting

Cons of the GEOBIN Recycled Plastic Compost Bin

  • 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

The GEOBIN composter is an entry level compost bin we tested a few years back. The GEOBIN 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. It is very affordable, under $40. It is thus low commitment if you are unsure about composting.

It 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

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 no lid.

An open top 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.

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

You can use shredded junk mail (see our tips for using junk mail for stinky soggy compost), cardboard from pizza boxes, or sawdust (who doesn’t have piles of sawdust sitting around?).

Challenges Retrieving Your “Black Gold”

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. Which 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 3 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.

EJWOX Rodent-free But Not Trouble-Free

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 of EJWOX Recycled Plastic Compost Bin

  • Rodent-proof
  • EJWOX claims 100% post-consumer recycled plastic

Cons of the EJWOX

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

Based on our testing, this bin 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, this compost bin 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 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 the indoor container. Our container, part of this excellent low waste trash can, happens to have an indoor compost container that fits perfectly with the opening.

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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