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UBC Okanagan students redesign donation bins for safety issues

UBCO students redesign donation bins for safety issues

UBC Okanagan engineering students, along with their instructor, have redesigned clothing donation bins to make them safer.

This project comes after nine deaths in the past six years, from people climbing inside the bins.

They say their modifications are the answer to the problem that has taken several lives and cost Canadian charities thousands of dollars.

READ MORE: City of Vancouver to allow ‘safe’ clothing donation bins to return to city

“The designs are made so that people cannot see the content and won’t be motivated to get in,” Ray Taheri, an instructor at UBCO, told Global News on Friday. “They cannot get inside.”

Taheri established a task force to look at the bins and received a $75,000 donation from Firstline Foundation to design and retrofit existing bins.

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The students have created what they call three feasible designs. They are all similar, in which they stop someone from seeing inside and also prevent them from being able to climb in.

“It seems to be a lot safer and has accomplished a lot of the goals we set out,” said Noah Campbell, a UBCO student. “You can’t really see inside it, it’s a lot harder to get inside the bin.”

READ MORE: Lower Mainland Return-It depots to start accepting clothing, textiles in wake of donation bin closures

The modifications took roughly three weeks to develop and a few days to fabricate.

The students say the new back plate is the most effective change made.

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver came from the Lower Mainland to see the new modifications.

“The enthusiasm of the group is second to none. They are really putting their heart and soul into the project, said Slav Gudelj, general manager at Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver. “It’s impressive to see that they are making such good progress.”

Big Brothers anticipates financial losses after clothing donation bins are pulled
Big Brothers anticipates financial losses after clothing donation bins are pulled

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver pulled 180 bins off the streets in Vancouver, last year.

“When this last death happened in Vancouver, we decided to move all our bins off the street,” said Gudelj. “It did have a huge impact on our bottom line and is going to cost us about half a million dollars.”

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You can expect to see the new retrofitted bins on the street, next spring.