The standard trash icon is always located in the most least interactive area of the Ubuntu desktop. The trash icon can now be replaced by an application called Trashindicator. Trashindicator is a useful indicator that can be used to quickly empty the trash bin or look quickly how many files are in currently in the trash. The system icon of Trashindicator integrates perfectly in the indicator area!
Trashindicator can be easily installed by downloading the .deb file from this site. Further information can also be found on this website. For non-Debian based Linux distributions there's also a .tar.gz file available.