How many liters is a 13 gallon trash bin?

A 13 gallon trash bin is a common size for household waste bins. When considering the size of a trash bin, it can be useful to convert between gallons and liters to get a better sense of how much waste the bin can hold. This article will provide a quick answer upfront, followed by a more detailed explanation and additional relevant information.

Quick Answer

A 13 gallon trash bin holds approximately 49 liters.

Gallons to Liters Conversion

To convert between gallons and liters, we need to know the conversion factor between these two units of volume.

Gallon to Liter Conversion Factor

1 gallon is equal to 3.78541 liters.

Therefore, the conversion factor is:

1 gallon = 3.78541 liters

This allows us to convert any quantity in gallons to liters by multiplying by the conversion factor.

Converting 13 Gallons to Liters

To convert 13 gallons to liters, we simply multiply the 13 gallons by the conversion factor:

13 gallons x 3.78541 liters/gallon = 49.2 liters

Therefore, 13 gallons is approximately equal to 49 liters.

Trash Bin Sizes

Typical Household Trash Bin Sizes

Some typical sizes for household trash bins are:

– 10 gallon bin – 38 liters
– 13 gallon bin – 49 liters
– 18 gallon bin – 68 liters
– 23 gallon bin – 87 liters
– 30 gallon bin – 114 liters

Many garbage and recycling collection services will provide standardized bins in these common sizes. The 13 gallon/49 liter bin is a popular mid-sized option.

Measuring Trash Bin Capacity

When measuring the capacity of a trash bin, some key factors to consider are:

– Dimensions – Height, width, depth determine overall volume.
– Shape – A cylindrical bin may hold more than a rectangular prism.
– Compaction – Contents can be packed down to save space.
– Material – Rigid bins hold a fixed shape, while bags are more variable.

To determine the capacity, you can fill a bin with known quantities of water, then measure the volume used.

Trash Bin Capacity Guidelines

Estimating Needed Trash Bin Size

When selecting a trash bin, some guidelines for capacity are:

– 1-2 person household – 13-20 gallon bin
– 3-4 person household – 20-30 gallon bin
– 5+ person household – 30+ gallon or multiple bins

The waste generated per person can vary significantly based on consumption and recycling habits. Allowing for some growth over time, a 13 gallon bin may be suitable for 1-3 people.

Pickup Schedule

The pickup schedule for trash collection also determines ideal bin size:

– Weekly pickup – Smaller bin, 13-20 gallons
– Biweekly pickup – Larger bin, 20-30 gallons
– Monthly pickup – Even larger bins or multiple bins

With less frequent pickup, more waste capacity is needed between collections.

Waste Diversion Goals

For improved sustainability, many aim to reduce waste and increase recycling. With effective recycling and composting programs, a smaller trash bin size may suffice. Typical goals include:

– Recycle 50% of waste
– Compost 30% of organic waste
– Trash only 20%

This waste diversion can reduce trash bin needs to 10 gallons or less per person.

Factors Affecting Trash Volume

Household Size

The number of people in a household is the primary determinant of trash volume. More residents generate more waste. Children in disposable diapers can also significantly increase trash volume.

Consumption Habits

Household consumption patterns have a major impact on waste generation. Convenience foods, online shopping, and luxury goods can all contribute larger volumes of waste.

Food Waste

Up to 30% of household waste may be food waste. Fruit peels, spoiled produce, scraps, and expired foods quickly fill the trash bin. Proper composting can divert much of this.


An effective recycling program can reduce trash volume by 50% or more. If paper, plastics, glass, and metals are consistently recycled, less waste goes to the landfill.

Yard Waste

Yard trimmings like leaves, grass clippings and branches can rapidly fill trash bins in the fall and summer months. Composting or yard waste collection is recommended.

Trash Bin Alternatives

Reusable Bags

For short-term flexibility, reusable plastic bags can substitute for a fixed trash bin. However, they are less sanitary and may attract pests. Overfilling can lead to ruptures.

Compactor Bins

A compactor trash bin mechanically compresses contents to reduce volume by up to 5x. This enables more waste to fit, but has higher upfront cost.


For large volumes of waste, temporary dumpsters may be a better solution. Common sizes are 6-40 cubic yards capacity. They can be rented as needed.


In some cases, onsite incineration of waste may be an option. However, air pollution concerns typically limit this approach in residential settings.

Tracking Trash Volume

To optimize a trash plan, it helps to track weekly volumes over time. This can determine when bin size changes, pickup changes, or waste diversion efforts are needed. Some tracking methods include:

Trash Bin Volume

Mark the initial trash level on the bin. When full, measure the height to determine volume in gallons or liters used.

Trash Bags

Count standard trash bags used per week. Calculate volume from bag size, e.g. 13 gallon bags.

Trash Weight

Weigh bins or bags on a scale. Estimate volume from typical densities like 30 lbs per 13 gallon bag.


Take weekly photos of the filled bin for a visual record. This can identify problem waste streams.

Waste Audit

Do periodic sorts of bin contents to quantify percentages of food waste, paper, plastic, etc. Adjust programs accordingly.


To summarize, a standard 13 gallon trash bin provides approximately 49 liters (13 gallons x 3.78541 liters/gallon) of waste capacity. This mid-sized bin is well-suited for a 1-3 person household with weekly waste collection. Tracking actual weekly trash volumes can help optimize trash plans over time. With effective recycling and composting programs, even smaller bins may suffice and reduce the waste sent to landfills.

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