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What’s the City Looking for in a Redesigned Green Bin?

Your green bin is in for some changes.

It’s no wonder Toronto’s green bins don’t pose much of a challenge to raccoons. We tried to fight centuries of natural selection with little metal latches, and we failed. Our municipal compost containers are feeding troughs.

For quite some time, the City has been angling for a new green bin design—one that doesn’t suffer from this and other shortcomings. Now we know exactly what City staff have in mind, thanks to a bid document released to the public in late February.

The document, which lays out the City’s requirements for any company interested in bidding for the chance to supply and maintain the new bins, includes detailed design specifications. Here are some of them.

Raccoon resistance.

The new bins “must be raccoon resistant and contain a latch that will remain secured at the curb and open mechanically during the dumping cycle,” says the bid document. City staff have explained in their reports to city council that the idea here is for the latch to open automatically when the bin is tipped upside-down for collection. This would mean residents wouldn’t have to unlatch the bins on collection day.


The City wants the new bins to be somewhere between 80 and 100 litres each in volume, whereas the current bins are about 46 litres. In other words, the new bins will have about double the capacity of the current ones. The exact dimensions of the new bins are up to the contractors, but only within certain limits. The City wants the bins to be compatible with the automatic lifting devices on its garbage trucks.

Still green, though.

In the document, the City specifically asks that the new bins be made of plastic that is “a distinct green colour.” The bin would still have all the usual markings, some printed in white, others possibly embossed in the plastic.

Ready to roll by summer.

For many reasons, it’s hard to say how long it will be before the new bins arrive (for one thing, city council will have to decide whether to give the project a go-ahead), but the idea, currently, is for work to start in July. Under the estimated timeline, residents would start getting the new bins “no later than” spring 2014.

Also, the City wants every prospective contractor to give a cost estimate for an order of 5,000 pencil-holder-sized replica “mini-bins,” which we can only speculate will be prized collector’s items someday, when the next-generation green bin has won its Nobel prize for keeping the raccoon menace at bay.


  • Walter Lis

    Different sizes for different households. One residence may have only one person. Another residence may have four, another eight, and another fifteen.

    The city should allow residences the option to change the size of the green bin depending upon their needs.

    • kroberts

      For sure, I rent most of a house with my boyfriend and we have one neighbor upstairs and with weekly pick ups – we don’t need anything bigger, plus as the comment from SteelesAvenue suggests, in the summer, I will be composting much of the organic waste in the backyard and will need even less space in the bin.

    • wonkman

      The problem with different sizes is that, in order for the differences to be meaningful (i.e: some residences produce literally 1/10th as much waste as the median, while others easily produce 2 or 3 times…), the city would find it extremely difficult to locate or build trucks which could handle all these various sizes.

      They could go back to manual loading, but there are good reasons not to. (It was literally wrecking people’s backs: twist, throw, twist, place, twist, throw, twist, place… it’s like an object lesson in how to give yourself a spinal injury by age 40.)

  • SteelesAvenue

    seeing as these are only for single family homes and not for condos/ apartments, why not keep the current small ones and give everybody a composter?

    • wonkman

      Because not everyone wants a composter. (If you live in a second-story walkup, what are you supposed to do with it–or with the mulch it produces?)

    • Harald Koch

      Because there’s a ton of stuff that the city accepts that you cannot safely compost in your backyard. Plus, racoons love our backyard composter buffets, and leave their evil parasite-infected feces all over the place.

      • scottld

        Not if properly maintained.

      • SteelesAvenue

        My house uses a composter for everything (except meat products), and I see no problem with it. The squirrels, possums and racoons take what they can, but I really dont care, Im not greedy about my trash. the more they eat the less garbage there is. As for their poop, the racoons are going to poop where they want regardless.

  • emets

    I’d like to see them more durable! I’ve been through 3 bins in as many years, and don’t know if that’s from garbage-guys chucking them or what, but the cold definitely makes them brittle!

  • Melissa

    Green in colour, but no mention of materials? Requiring them to be made of recycled plastic would be a step in the right direction at the very least…

    • SteveKupferman

      Actually, the bid document does say that the new bins have to be made of polyethylene plastic, at least 20 per cent of which is supposed to be recycled.

      I didn’t summarize that part.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Is that 20% reclaimed factory floor waste or 20% post-consumer?

  • Russ Schaeffler

    I wrap a chain around mine and attach it to a pole, no more problems with raccoons, except the struggling sounds trying to open the bin.

    • Russ Schaeffler

      and taking it out in the morning instead of at night helps keep them away during the day.

  • Judy

    80-100 Litres? Holy smokes! Does the average household really produce enough organic waste to warrant that size? All of these bins are already challenging to store. Making the green bin that much bigger seems ridiculous.

  • Stephanie

    Ugh no! Not another bigger bin. We’re a household of 5 and have never found the current one too small, not even during holidays.

    • Harald Koch

      Agreed. I already have trouble storing two large bins and they want to add another one?

      • Eric S. Smith

        Just store them all in your suburban garage, and trundle them down your paved driveway to the curb on garbage day!

  • David

    Here we go again. More discussions with waste management about not having space for such bins. I have neither a blue bin nor a grey one and I can’t come close to filling the existing green bin each week. The garbage goes out in a bag every four or six weeks and other than newspapers, the recycling goes out every four weeks.

  • dr.fever

    How about one that’s impervious to damage from the GFL trucks? Anybody else noticing a huge increase in the wear and tear on their green/black/blue bins since the privatized pick-up began?

  • Judy

    I am so curious about the 5000 replica “mini bins”!

    • Geoff Gilmour-Taylor

      They’re for the raccoons to put their organic waste in.

  • JK

    Re: the raccoon issue… we keep our compost in a bag in the freezer and then put it out the night before pick up. Because it’s frozen, there is very no smell and we have not had any raccoon issues. It’s also good to do in the summer because we don’t ever have fruit fly issues.

    • JK

      oops… “there is no smell…”

  • scottld

    We compost so I would like a smaller green bin.
    Also it says residents would not have to unlatch ….so how do they put materials inside the bin?

  • wetitnpetit

    My parents met in a dumpster. They did a lot of meth and prostituting.


    think they want larger bins so they can have a bar for auto lifting , apparently
    this increases productivity as indicated through a study. Although after
    observing the operators emptying the current bins it seemed highly efficient flipping
    the lid back and launching the bin into the truck. This is in comparison to the
    same operator cycling small garbage bins on the bar lifter. The closest version
    of the size bin they are looking for is currently used in Ottawa costing Aprx. $35.00
    per. Then add the cost of the mechanism required
    to auto open when lifted X 550 000 UNITS. So we can have larger cumbersome
    green bins that will only be partially filled in most circumstances. BINDOCK.COM

    • peeved

      Another hairbrained idea that we have come to expect from the baboons at city hall. The cost of this program is in the order of $30,000,000.00 plus tooling and the city is broke. Guess who pays for all this crap – again – and it’s not like we don’t already have something. Screw the problems with lifting – twisting etc – lots of people would be glad for the job. It’s greener than hvg a big clunky noisy truck chuggin around the neighborhood.