As a past in-house hospital designer we were constantly battling the lack of thought that went into the flow of trash by the design teams.

An important piece of equipment a healthcare designer should consider in his/her planning that is often overlooked, is the trash can. I know what you’re thinking: she’s making a big deal out of nothing. But I beg you to read on and thoughtfully consider my plea to give the CAN some respect! The different type of trash complicates matters. Trash cans are rarely customized and therefore come in standard sizes. I have seen too many casework applications both drawn and built by both architects and designers that I could not fit a standard trash can into.

So what are the solutions? This is going to sound silly, but you need to understand the size of the equipment prior to building a case for it. I know you would never do such a thing! You’re right, you would do it for equipment, but who cares about a trash can. It’s an afterthought, low cost mistake.

Even if you look at standard sizes from your handy Grange or Rubbermaid catalog, you still need to meet with the people emptying them, putting new liners in them for 3 reasons:

1. You can’t assume that what is working now is the best solution; they might love to change a size (due to being able to empty less often and therefore have less FTE’s) or the location.

2. They could be investigating a new manufacturer and are ready to place the order for the new wing you’re working on, and they will be ½” off and won’t fit because they just measured where the old can was and it had plenty of room. No joke this has happened!

3. How the user accesses the can is different than environmental services. How the door swings open, the type of hinges, etc., can all be factors to making this a smooth process for both patients and staff.