$0-50 / $100-500 / Storage & Organization

Ode to Mode, the Recycling Center I Never Knew I Needed


As much as I love to recycle, I have always hated looking at our cheap — and recently cracked — plastic recycling bin, particularly when filled with empty bottles and cans. And so, the bin remained hidden behind the dining table, an inconvenient place once we considered the fact that most of our recycling comes from the kitchen and home office. The bright green recycling bags I received from Kangaroom last year helped a little and were great for paper, but they weren’t the prettiest to look at. They stayed hidden with the other bin, an annoying distance from the kitchen. A few weeks ago I ventured in to TJ Maxx looking for some organic sheets for my daughter’s bed. On my way back to the bedding department, I walked by a huge box that may as well have been glowing, like it was put there especially for me by the recycling angels.

The Mode RCC-500 Recycling Center appeared from out of nowhere to answer my prayers. OK…not really, but that’s the way it felt at the time. To make this great find even better, it was on clearance for $50, marked down from an already low TJ Maxx price of $99. Seriously? $50? Buying it was a no brainer. And in the weeks that we’ve had it, I’ve never regretted that decision.


There are three compartments: A deep one in the back for plastics, glass and cans, and two shallower ones in the front for paper and overflow bottles. The three bins lining these compartments nest inside each other (see these photos) to make it easier to take them all at one time. It also has a clock and timer that you can set to alarm on recycling day. This isn’t very useful for us as it would be for someone who had curbside recycling. We have to take our recycling to the center ourselves, so it would be more useful for us if it would alarm when all the bins are full.

What’s more impressive, though, is that it looks like it belongs in the kitchen. It looks like an appliance, albeit a very large one, so it doesn’t stick out in spite of its size. It helps, of course, that the appliances in our apartment are also black, but Mode’s premium (read: larger and more expensive) unit also comes in a stainless finish. I used to think recycling centers were a waste of money — until I started trying to create a beautiful home around a recycling station that completely defied my powers of creative concealment.  I am a person who likes to have a place for everything, and I thrive when surrounded by order and beautiful things, so this is a great solution for our household.

I do have two complaints, though. The paper bin is designed to accommodate newspapers, magazines and other regular-sized paper, but not much else. So when we break down cereal boxes or other food packaging, it’s a pain to try to make them fit. Mode should rethink the size of the paper bin in its next design, taking into account that “paper” recycling also includes cardboard that can tend to be large and irregularly shaped once it is flattened. I also wish the system came equipped with a compacter, which would allow us to fit more items in a smaller space. To be fair though, this feature is included on the larger unit. For the price, we’re really happy with it. I don’t know that I’d cough up the retail price, which is more than 3 times what we paid, but if you have the extra money to spend, I think it would be worth the investment.

Price: $179.99 directly from Mode and from other online retailers. We paid $50 for it on clearance at TJ Maxx.

NOTE: I was not compensated in any way for this post. This is a product I bought with my own money and love enough to share it with you 🙂

About Author

I am a graphic designer by trade who has a strong passion for interior design and doing what we can to protect the environment. This blog and my other site, Green & Gorgeous, are my ways of giving back to the Earth.


  • Kelli
    February 3, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    LOVE this!!

  • Urban Sherp
    March 5, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Wow, what an amazing design and perfect for the ultimate recycler! And, what a total score to get it for $50!! Well done. I was on the hunt for a way to organize my recycling and trash and found this sleek SS unit from TopDeq. It’s wall mounted and slim, so good for small kitchens:

    has worked wonders for my kitchen!

  • lucyjames
    February 17, 2011 at 2:39 am

    It has very nice look. Not only that but also it seems very comfortable and useful.


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