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In use.

Installed and closed.

Toronto uses a ‘green bin’ system to recycle and compost organic waste. Toronto also has a highly active raccoon population, which quickly tips, opens, scatters, and eats the leftovers in the green bin. This is risky from a health perspective, as raccoons are carriers of roundworms, can be rabid, and will escalate once they establish your home as a source of food.

There are many solutions to this problem. Without further ado, here is mine, and a bit of description of the design space.

The requirement: keep the raccoons out of the recycling.
The solution space: cheap, people-friendly, and does not require locking the bin in an enclosure, since many people do not have a convenient place for the enclosure.

Typical solutions involve locking straps, multiple screws, and some sort of buckling mechanism. These work well.

Mine is one loop of Velcro One-Wrap, and a screw. Tools needed, a screwdriver, a sharp knife point, and a drill or small flat screwdriver bit suitable for making a pilot hole in the body of the green bin. (A Leatherman tool will frequently have all of these. I favor the ‘Juice S2‘ for everyday use.)

  1. Take the roll of One-Wrap. Hold the end of the Velcro in your hand. Wrap it around your hand until it completely overlaps on your palm.
  2. With a sharp penknife or utility blade, cut a 5mm slit in the velcro so that you can pass a screw through it, just below the overlap region. You will use this hole to securing the loop to the body of the green bin with a screw, below.
  3. Push the screw through the velcro, so that the head is inside the loop
  4. Place the velcro loop on the bale of the green bin, and close it. Use the sharp end of the screw to mark the body of the green bin.
  5. Using your drill or small screwdriver bit, make a pilot hole for the screw
  6. Drive the screw into the body of the green bin

Notes on using this device:

  • The velcro must be firmly and fully coupled on the overlapping part to keep the raccoons out
  • When you take the bin out on the morning of recycling/garbage day, remember to undo the velcro.  Toronto Garbage will not open it (nor any other strap that I can find on the market).
  • In practice, the loop lasts for about a year due to weathering. I recommend replacing it each Spring.
  • The largest failure (in three five years of practice) is human error: someone dropping a recycling bag into the bin, and forgetting to re-close it.

Feedback, requests for clarification, commentary, kudos and complaints are all welcome.

HOWEVER, I make no warranty or claim of suitability, as I’m NOT selling this to you. It does work for me. It won’t work for you. Seriously, you’ll lose a load or two of recycling to the raccoons because you’ll forget to close it properly, or the loop will become stiff with age and need to be replaced, but it’s radically better than nothing, and very inexpensive.

As a helpful commenter notes, below, there’s also a good commercial solution (http://www.raccoonsolutions.com/). If this doesn’t work for you, upgrade to that.