Now absolute for Toronto, but perhaps useful elsewhere: Keep raccoons out of your green recycling bin


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. Toronto FINALLY implemented a proper anti-raccoon lock with an all-new bin solution. It’s not perfect, but it does render the below obsolete.

ELSEWHERE, feel free to use this. Cheap, cheerful, works-ish.

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.

Regards,
Dak

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11 thoughts on “Now absolute for Toronto, but perhaps useful elsewhere: Keep raccoons out of your green recycling bin

  1. There is a much easier solution to keep raccoons out of the garbage cans. Check out http://www.raccoonsolutions.com No installation necessary – even a teenager can do it!
    [Dak – The installation is about the same as my free design, but it is quite robust. I’ve been trying this out. Downside: not everybody who uses it closes it up when done, but it’s pretty good. The search for the elusive perfect raccoon lock goes on]

    Like

  2. At last. My pesky bandit has tried twice and no luck. He knocked my green bin way down the driveway trying. This is such an easy fix and so neat looking as well. Thank you SO much for a simple, inexpensive, elegant solution!

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  3. The raccoons dragged the green bin all the way to the curb, and managed to sneak a little out through a crack in the lid…now if only they’d done that on garbage day. Clearly some more training is needed 😉

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