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The Move Away from the Metal Trash Can

A popular choice for waste management, and one of the most common sightings in communities across every state, the metal trash can has been a reliable assistant in the fight to keep trash off sidewalks and keep public spaces clean for decades.

Metal Trash Can

Offering a range of benefits including strength and durability, metal has long been considered the ideal material for commercial outdoor trash cans. However, in recent years, there has been a gradual shift away from traditional steel-based solutions, to polymer-based trash cans.

Scientific discoveries within the field of plastics, and developments in manufacturing techniques have made plastics more durable, stronger, sustainable, pliable, and cost-competitive compared to its cold counterpart.

A considerable factor that separates the two materials is the process of molding. Through this process, commercial plastic trash cans can be transformed into various shapes and sizes, offering a wider choice of styles and customizations.

So is this why more and more organizations are shifting away from the traditional?
We explore some of the common requirements and features of the modern trash can to help explain why we believe organizations are opting for a polymer solution.


Trash cans don't often receive the love they deserve and in their lifetime can be accidentally knocked and kicked – it's a hard life being a trash can! For this reason, the unit needs to stay reliably intact and solid. Most metal trash cans aren’t brittle, they’re generally sturdy and robust under large loads, meaning the chances of breaking are greatly reduced. But, as previously mentioned, new techniques in design and manufacturing mean that plastics like Durapol™ material are abundantly stronger now. In addition, when polymer-based products are subject to minor impacts, they will retain their shape and limit the visual effects of the damage. On the other hand, metal may dent and even suffer damage to its applied coating, which could worsen over time through the spread of rust. 

Glasdon Jubilee™ 29G Trash Can in Rockingham, Richmond County
Manufactured with Durapol material, the Glasdon Jubilee™ 29G Trash Can was the ideal solution for Rockingham, Richmond County.

Weather Resistance

Rust-be-gone! With the knocks and day-to-day wear and tear, metal can lose its shine easily, leading to areas of the surface becoming exposed to the elements. No one likes the sight of rusty metal, and as plastics such as Durapol™ are non-corrosive, oxygen and water won't plague it. Polymer-based products are also highly weather-resistant and will continue to function in above and below average temperatures and conditions. In addition, their self-colored properties mean scratches will not become highlighted if scraped or grazed, unlike metal equivalent products.

Here at Glasdon, our highly durable polymer material Durapol™, is used for nearly all our external and internal trash cans and recycle containers. This specially crafted material has been designed and tested in three specific quality control routines. We simulate extreme pressure to test the strength, temperature test through exposure to severe cold or heat, and lastly, we simulate UV light to test what effect sunlight has on the color. These individual tests ensure our plastic-based products stand the test of time in almost any environment.

Dynamic Waste Management

Nexus® 52G Dual Trash & Recycling Containers

More shapes, sizes, and colors, who doesn't want that? Plastic trash cans come in a whole range of different dimensions, capacities, and designs, making them an attractive choice for use in outdoor and indoor areas too. They can fit into confined spaces, incorporate into various styled surroundings, and can be easily personalized to your waste management needs.

That's not to say you can't buy a styled, high-quality internal or external metal receptacle - you can, however, you will find more straight edges and box-shaped receptacles. Remember, an ugly waste receptacle means a user might be less inclined to use it.

Through molding techniques, plastic can be crafted into multiple shapes and designs, the possibilities are endless. Here at Glasdon, we design our bins to take full advantage of these benefits, offering a whole range of various-shaped plastic trash cans with an advanced list of customizable options. From colored, molded apertures and lids fit for the collection of various types of waste, through to eye-catching decals to match a specific waste scheme or office layout. The more choice, the better!

Nexus® City 64G Recycling Containers outside a Food Lion store
Food Lion recycles more with the help of the large capacity Nexus® City 64G Recycling Containers.

Cleaning & Maintenance

Perhaps one of the most important factors when considering the material finish of an exterior trash can is how easily it can be cleaned and maintained by the operator. This is where polymer solutions outperform metal. When metal rusts it can look unsightly and have a negative impact on its surroundings. Plastic trash cans can be cleaned easily and retain an unblemished appearance for years. We recommend using just a soft bristle brush with a mild detergent in warm water or a warm pressure wash with soap to clean Glasdon Durapol™ material receptacles.

And there's no doubt that plastic is a low-maintenance solution offering durability, vandal, and weather resistance - so it's less likely to need much attention at all.

Check out the resilience of the Glasdon Jubilee 29G Trash Cans and Recycling Containers in the product testings video here:


When considering the durability, low maintenance, and ease of cleaning and operation, commercial trash cans manufactured with a high-quality polymer such as Durapol™ really do hit the brief, helping to cut ongoing maintenance and replacement costs, and offering long-term value.

Environmental Impact

Last but certainly not of least importance is the environmental impact of the trash can itself. Both metal and plastic are recyclable with the ability to be converted into more of the same product, or something entirely new. Extending our responsibility to the environment and reducing our dependency on raw materials we also strive to use high-quality recycled materials in the manufacture of our products. So not only do Glasdon trash cans have the ability to be recycled at the end of their long service life, our black Durapol™ material is also manufactured with 15% recycled material.

For more environmentally friendly product ideas, take a look at some of our eco-conscious favorites and best sellers.

With the advancements in polymer technology, commercial plastic trash, and recycling receptacles are considered to be exceeding the limits of the traditional metal trash can solution.

If you would like to learn more about how Glasdon can help with your waste management please talk to us today.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022
NRPA Corporate Member The Green Web Foundation