Improving the safety of clothing donation bins (UBC, Big Brothers Canada)

in late 2019, I was asked by a UBC professor to do some work to redesign clothing donation bins to increase their safety, specifically those used by Big Brothers Canada. Clothing donation bins.

The city of Vancouver removed all clothing bins from their streets in response to deaths that have occurred across Canada from bin divers becoming stuck. Big Brothers needed a safer solution in order to continue operations in the city. Myself and the others involved came up with several ideas to improve safety, and make it less likely that a bin diver would be able to get stuck inside the bin. My two designs were the Candy-Cane mechanism, and Grashof mechanism. The Candy-Cane mechanism moves a rotating back-plate with the use of a candy-cane shaped bar. This makes the opening needed to get inside the bin smaller, and increases it at a constant rate as the bin is closed to allow bags to enter. The Grashof mechanism is a much more complex and robust version of this. It uses a 4-bar grashof quick-return mechanism to increase the opening at a non-linear rate. The grashof mechanism keeps the opening infinitesimally small until the back plate is out of view, then it quickly opens back-plate to allow the clothes to drop into the bin, as shown in the motion study below.

This project was covered by both UBC and Global news okanagan.


UBCO students redesign donation bins for safety issues – Global news
New, safe models of clothing donation bins heading back to the streets – University of British Columbia


The bin used by big brothers before modifications




The Candy-Cane mechanism