There are so many ways to call these containers for waste. (correct me if some of them might sound weird/unnatural to use)

garbage can, trash can, rubbish can, pedal can, garbage bin, trash bin, rubbish bin, pedal bin

I'm totally confused. I know some of them might mean the same thing.

But please tell me which is which based on the following pictures by order? Please also let me know where you are from. (US, UK, Canada, Australia, etc...)

1: c1

2: c2

3: c3

4: c4

5: c5

  • The second is a pedal bin but the others do not have (foot) pedals. For some people the fourth (and perhaps the fifth) can be called a wheelie bin
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 16:56
  • 1
    In UK they are various kinds of rubbish bin with some obvious differences such as the pedal and the wheels. I think that garbage, trash and can are US usage. The last one could be a laundry bin for use in a hotel, or perhaps a leaf barrow for use in a garden. Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 17:09
  • 5
    In my American dialect (lived a lot of places in the US, learned to speak in California), 1-4 are trash cans. I might occasionally call (2) or (3) a watebasket, but probably not. If I wanted to be specific, I might call (4) a roller bin. (5) I would probably call a "cart" or "trash cart". Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 17:19
  • 2
    In the US, we say trash can or garbage can or just trash or even trash bin. The last one probably has several names. Not on every "street corner", as it were.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 17:20
  • (4) is called a "wheelie bin" in at least Ireland and the parts of the USA that I've lived in. There are other names for it as well -- it's relatively new -- but everybody understands "wheelie bin". Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 17:21

6 Answers 6


Let's just consider the container where we throw our garbage.

In the Continental U.S., the two most common generic terms for these containers are trash can and garbage can. If you don't want to specify, these will always be understood for what they are: a place to throw your garbage.

Whether you will hear garbage or trash, is a regional and age-related matter.(ref 1)

Garbage can is most likely to be heard in Southwestern New England (All of New York state and Connecticut), New Jersey, parts of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois, and then all Northern States from Wisconsin to Oregon as well as parts of Utah and Nevada.

In all other parts of the U.S., including all Southern States, most people will say trash can.

In addition, according to Josh Katz¹

Since the 1950s, trash can has become increasingly common in American speech. Two in three people born in the 1990s would say trash can over garbage can.

As for the several pictures shown by the OP, 1,2 and 3 are trash cans, Number 4 can be found in supermarkets and retail stores under the name of roller bins

enter image description here

Number 5 is a trash cart.

enter image description here

Different models abound so it's not always easy to tell 4 from 5.

In Britain, it's a completely different matter and dustbin is one of the generic terms.

  1. Katz, Josh. Speaking American.
  • 3
    When I moved from London to Bristol (UK) in 1970, I found that London's 'dustbins' were called 'ash bins', and the men who came in a truck to empty them were not called 'the dustmen', but 'the ash men'. These are very old fashioned now. Nobody has coal fires, for one thing. Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 21:42

UK terms:

(1) appears to be a 'waste bin' or 'waste paper bin' if small.

enter image description here

(2) is a 'pedal bin'

enter image description here

(3) is a 'push flap bin', 'push bin', or 'push top bin' (etc)

enter image description here

(4) is almost universally called a 'wheelie bin', or, more formally, a 'wheeled bin'

enter image description here

(5) is not a bin for waste, but a 'barrow' or wheelbarrow', although it could be used for waste.

enter image description here

  • 2
    Note: in UK English, and I suspect elsewhere, a 'bin' does not have to be just for waste. I have seen wheelie bins used for storage and movement of food materials such as cereals, nuts, etc, in warehouses. Of course they are kept clean, and never held trash. Parts bins are a thing in manufacturing. Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 21:40
  • +1. I've also heard "waste paper basket" for the first example when made of wicker. The older Macs used "Wastebasket" instead of "Trash can" when in British English mode. However the "basket" variant now strikes me as being somewhat of a dated term; something my grandma would say.
    – Muzer
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 10:11
  • Can confirm that pretty much all of these terms would be understood in US English as well, and "bin" can indeed refer to containers for things other than trash. Might add "dust bin" as another synonym for the first one. Note that "waste bin", "trash can", or "garbage can" can be collectively used for almost all of these, possibly excluding the wheelbarrow. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 18:12
  • These terms are all correct, and more specific, but it should be made clear that they do not invalidate the more general "trash can"/"garbage bin"/etc. terms. I'd be comfortable calling most of these objects most of the terms in the question, although the "pedal" terms would only apply to the one that actually has a pedal on it, and I wouldn't call 4 or 5 a can. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 23:13
  • I'd be happier if you weren't replacing OP's pictures with something else. Because this changes it from answering OP's question to answering your question, and invites mistakes where your example is not comparable to OP's. In fact you have that right out of the chute with your #1 example (save £1.00). Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 16:14

US native speaker here, East Coast mostly. Everything below is from my personal experience, not published sources.

Trash is assorted unwanted debris, but garbage includes food waste and other things that start to smell or attract vermin/germs if they sit; garbage pails or cans usually have a lid to contain odors. When I was a kid in the 1960s we had both a trash can and a garbage pail, because, I think, the city collected them separately.

Rubbish is mostly a British term.

(I now live in a city where there are separate collections for trash, recyclables, food scraps for compost, and yard waste, but most American cities are doing well to separate trash and recyclables.)

As for your examples:

  1. Trash can, depicted with a plastic trash bag or can liner. Indoor or outdoor use, but too big and awkward for most home uses. Also called a trash barrel.

  2. Trash can, garbage can, or garbage pail. Indoor use, I'd expect to see this type in a kitchen or doctors office, or perhaps a bathroom.

This might also be a "diaper pail" used to collect soiled diapers.

And a term you didn't mention: "disposal bin"; for example when discussing the proper location for used feminine hygiene products in a public restroom.

  1. Trash can (with swing top.)

  2. (Wheeled) Trash bin or maybe trash cart. I'd expect to see this type outdoors next to a house; you empty the indoors trash can into this as needed and then wheel it to the curb once a week to be picked up by the automated garbage truck. (The bar on the opposite side from the wheels is hooked by a claw from the truck's mechanism.)

  3. Trash bin or trash cart. You might see something like this in an office or apartment building, or it might also be a utility cart that people use when working on their garden.

(Note: I've added terms from the comments where it was immediately obvious from my personal experience that I should have put them in without being promoted.)

  • I haven't heard "garbage pail" since I left the mid-Atlantic region. Garbage can, sure; but not pail. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 16:10
  • 2
    +1 for the distinction of "garbage" including food waste. A lot of people don't make that distinction in common speech, but it's often made in formal writing, such as local ordinances governing disposal thereof. Garbage is inherently more likely to spread diseases if not properly enclosed. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 18:53
  • 1
    I have also heard the term trash barrel used for the big open-topped bins with plastic liners. Northeast U.S.
    – user205876
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 18:55
  • And the rolling container with a lid is sometimes referred to as a toter. I think this term was introduced by the company that had the recycling contract in the town where I used to live. Either them or the municipal government, presumably to identify them clearly in the bylaws. I don’t know if it’s widely used. The containers are designed to be lifted by a device on the collection vehicle, so there are certain requirements they have to meet.
    – user205876
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 19:03

In my Australian English usage, 1-3 are all “rubbish bins” or just “bins”. I would only expect more detailed names to be used when the context particularly required someone to be more specific and descriptive. For example, asking someone to buy a particular type of bin for a particular purpose: “Can you get me a rubbish bin for the kitchen from Bunnings? I’d like one of those pedal bins (2), not one with a flap (3).”

Number 4 is certainly, both formally and informally, a “wheelie bin” (and never a “wheeled bin”, this sound more like a description than a name and, if used, would not unambiguously specify a wheelie bin as used for household garbage collection). The picture provided by Michael Harvey (the blue bin) shows the typical Australian wheelie bin, issued by local governments for roadside collection, appearing weekly on the street outside almost every suburban home. They can come in a multitude of colours specific to the local government area but dark green is the standard colour. There are two sizes - 240 or 100 litres.

With three wheels not two, 5 is not a wheelie bin and is rare or unknown in my experience. I’d not assume it was necessarily for rubbish and call it “a big plastic wheelbarrow with three wheels”.

  • In Australian English “rubbish bin” is often shortened to simply “bin”, with a reliance upon context to make it clear that it’s not any other type of “bin”. Examples: “Can you empty the bin under the sink?”, “That ham must be off! For God’s sake bin it!” Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 21:43
  • In the UK, the more formal "wheeled bins" is used in official documents, policies, and in the wording of contracts with suppliers, etc, e.g. "Melton Borough Council Waste Collection Policy Version 0.6 ... Contributions will be sought from developers and housebuilders to cover the costs associated with the provision of wheeled bins for all new properties. " Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 9:03
  • Indeed, I see that even the informal Ozzies are not immune: "Wheeled Bin: Do You Need A Larger Bin For Your Business? One of the first signs of modern society that we see in tv shows is the invention of the wheel. It is of course funny – and amazing that a wheeled bin is a pretty new invention (really only becoming widespread in Australia from the 1980s)." waster.com.au/wheeled-bin Never say "never"? Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 9:15
  • 1
    A problem with plastic wheelie bins is that if the trash inside catches fire, the bin melts and then burns. A few years ago, on 'bin day', our next-door neighbour put some partly used cans of paint in hers, which is not allowed. Some teen boys in our street were putting firecrackers in the bins for a jape and guess what? Lots of flames, black smoke, a really bad smell, the fire brigade, etc, It melted down to just above the wheels and made a striking sight. Our hedge was blackened and took years to recover. You can get galvanised steel wheelie bins, but they cost a lot more than plastic ones. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 9:59
  • @MichaelHarvey Hahaha, point taken. “I have never seen it used.” would have been more accurate. In fact, your example seems to be one that in some ways proves the rule. It plays upon the ambiguity in the term “wheeled bin” and is drawing our attention to this overlooked innovation by quite deliberately avoiding the usual term, wheelie bin in favour of the “never used” term wheeled bin. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 12:06


  1. Trash/Garbage can
  2. Trash/Garbage can
  3. Trash/Garbage can
  4. Trash/Garbage can
  5. Trash/Garbage cart

In Scottish English, 1, 2 and possibly 3 would all be a "bucket". In Doric (Aberdeenshire) 4 may be a bucket as well.


Scrannin' the buckets = Searching for 'valuables' in posh bins

(same site, search result for bucket)

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