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Toronto's new green bins to feature 'raccoon resistant' latch

Toronto's new green bins will likely receive a tiny thumbs down from the city's raccoon community.

Municipal staff are recommending the city replace its existing compost bins with a new design from the California-based Rehrig Pacific Company. With a 100-litre capacity, the new bins are twice the size of the old ones and boast a “raccoon resistant latch.”

The city’s public works and infrastructure committee will review the $31-million contract later this week.

First introduced in 2002, the current compost bins proved easy prey for local raccoons, who can be found feasting on their contents nightly.

“Those bins don’t work,” said Derick Foster, the industrial engineer at Rehrig Pacific who designed the new containers.

In order to build a bin capable of thwarting a raccoon, Foster first had to do some homework. He learned everything he could about the critters and consulted with Suzanne MacDonald, a raccoon expert at York University.

“Raccoons aren’t Houdini. They can’t get in to everything,” MacDonald said. “You just need to design your bin to their limitations.”

Raccoon hands are very dextrous but they can’t twist things, so Foster added a turning latch to the bin. The backyard bandits are also not very strong, so he made the bins larger and weighted them down so they can’t be pushed over.

Once the final prototype was complete, Foster and MacDonald tested it out in backyards across Toronto. Not once during the trial was a bin breached, Foster said.

One particularly persistent female raccoon even spent six hours trying to get into it, but ultimately failed.

Foster is confident that if his bin passed the test in Toronto, it’ll foil raccoons just about anywhere.

“You guys have some of the largest and smartest raccoons in North America,” he said.

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