Title:
CONTAINER FOR RECYCLABLE AND OTHER MATERIALS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is provided a container including: framing elements connected to the bottom of the container, projecting upwards from the bottom towards the top and being symmetric about a transverse plane that transects the bottom and top defining a front and back section of the container; fabric material connected to the framing elements; a closure mechanism for selectively closing the open top comprising: a primary flap for covering the top hingedly connected at the top to the back section and operable between a closed and open position, the primary flap covering the top and being under elastic tension when in a closed position and exposing the top and being free of the elastic tension when in an open position; and a first handle operatively connected to the primary flap for snappingly engaging an open position thereof; and a second handle disposed in the front section for handling and transporting the container.



Inventors:
Mauffette, Claude (Montreal, CA)
Cote, Colin (Montreal, CA)
Application Number:
12/329203
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
12/05/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D33/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080008406Pouches having reclosable pour spout in side gussetJanuary, 2008Russell et al.
20070014493Laundry bag for shoelacesJanuary, 2007Boyd
20080063325Peel-to-open packagesMarch, 2008Miller et al.
20090214140Multiple compartment self-sealing plastic bagAugust, 2009Jacobson
20090084475Transferable purse and bag systemApril, 2009Dean-perry
20050232517Airport security accessory pouchOctober, 2005Reid
20080089619Vacuum seal freezer bagApril, 2008Wayhan
20010008567Contained with repositionable slip-sheet to cover outletJuly, 2001Burkhardt
20050036719Sealable bag having an indicia for use in vacuum packagingFebruary, 2005Wu et al.
20100092110Bag with adjustable strap adapted to be carried on shoulders or backApril, 2010Simhony et al.



Primary Examiner:
HELVEY, PETER N.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCDERMOTT WILL & EMERY LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A container having an open top, a closed bottom and an outside surface, said container comprising: framing elements connected to said bottom and projecting upwards from said bottom towards said top, said framing elements being symmetric about a transverse plane transecting said bottom and top, said transverse plane defining a front section and a back section of said container; fabric material connected to said framing elements thereby defining a volume bounded within said framing elements and by said bottom; a closure mechanism for selectively closing said open top, said closure mechanism comprising: a primary flap for covering said open top hingedly connected at said open top to said back section, said primary flap operable between a closed position and an open position, said primary flap covering said open top and being under elastic tension when in a closed position, said primary flap exposing said open top and being free of the elastic tension when in an open position; and a first handle operatively connected to said primary flap for snappingly engaging an open position of the primary flap; and a second handle disposed in the front section of the container for handling and transporting the container.

2. The container according to claim 1, wherein said bottom is hingedly connected to said framing elements.

3. The container according to claim 2, further comprising a live hinge for hingedly connecting said bottom to said framing elements.

4. The container according to claim 2, wherein said bottom is releasably secured to said framing elements for selectively engaging an operative position of the container.

5. The container according to claim 2, wherein said bottom is foldable along an axis within said transverse plane for engaging a collapsed position of the container.

6. The container according to claim 1, wherein said bottom is solid.

7. The container according to claim 6, wherein said bottom comprises at least one hole.

8. The container according to claim 1, wherein said bottom comprises a breathable fabric material.

9. The container according to claim 8, wherein said breathable fabric material is a mesh material.

10. The container according to claim 1, wherein said bottom is rigid.

11. The container according to claim 1, wherein said framing elements are contiguously connected to each other and to said fabric material.

12. The container according to claim 1, wherein said framing elements are hingedly connected to each other.

13. The container according to claim 12, further comprising live hinges for hingedly connecting said framing elements to each other.

14. The container according to claim 1, wherein said framing elements further define supports extending from said bottom for supporting the container in an operative upright position and maintaining said bottom off a surface.

15. The container according to claim 1, wherein the fabric material comprises a breathable material.

16. The container according to claim 1, wherein the fabric material comprises mesh material.

17. The container according to claim 1, wherein the fabric material is flexible.

18. The container according to claim 1, wherein the container is made of an extruded single-piece of plastic.

19. The container according to claim 1, wherein the closure mechanism comprises a secondary flap hingedly connected to said front side and overlappable over said primary flap.

20. The container according to claim 18, wherein said secondary flap is operable between a closed position and an open position, said secondary flap overlapping said primary flap and being under elastic tension when in a closed position, said secondary flap exposing said open top and being free of the elastic tension when in an open position.

21. The container according to claim 1, wherein said first handle comprises a loop of material operatively connected to said primary flap and said back section.

22. The container according to claim 21, wherein said first handle is integral with said primary flap and said back section.

23. The container according to claim 21, wherein said first handle comprises a loop of material operatively connected to said primary flap and said back section proximate said open top of said container.

24. The container according to claim 1, wherein said second handle comprises an opening in said fabric material or said framing elements.

25. The container according to claim 1, wherein said second handle comprises a loop of material connected to said fabric material or said framing elements.

26. The container according to claim 25, wherein said second handle is integral with said fabric material or said framing elements.

27. The container according to claim 1, comprising a third handle for handling the container, said third handle disposed proximate or on said bottom element.

28. The container according to claim 27, wherein the third handle is a recess in said bottom element.

29. The container according to claim 27, wherein said third handle comprises a loop of material.

30. The container according to claim 1, wherein the closure mechanism further comprises securing means for securing the primary flap in a closed position.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a container that can be used to transport and store any number of items or materials. In a particular aspect of the invention, the container is particularly useful for recyclable materials.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

In the domestic recyclable industry, consumers are asked to place paper and cardboard, glass, metal, plastic, and the like in containers which are then placed on a curb for pick up by municipal authorities. These containers, particularly in North America, can take the form of rigid bins, which are small enough to be carried by a person with both hands and large enough to provide adequate volume for placing items within it. Some users will also supplement the storage capacity of these bins with paper bags, empty cardboard boxes, etc.

In some areas, not only is recycling encouraged, but also the municipality (or other local or regional authority) may further require sorting of the items by the consumer. For example, glass and plastic needs to be sorted and separated from paper, and further separated from metal. This allegedly reduces the burden on the municipality of having to sort the materials at a central location. Compliance with these requirements is tepid at best.

Rigid plastic bins do suffer some disadvantages, in that breakage can occur often requiring replacement of the bin altogether. Furthermore, the bins can become relatively heavy if loaded with newspapers and empty glass bottles, which deters from universal acceptance and use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a container for materials, and more particularly recyclable materials, which will promote acceptance and use by a greater segment of the population.

In accordance with the invention, there is provided a container having an open top, a closed bottom and an outside surface, the container including:

    • framing elements connected to the bottom and projecting upwards from the bottom towards the top, the framing elements being symmetric about a transverse plane transecting the bottom and top, the transverse plane defining a front section and a back section of the container;
    • fabric material connected to the framing elements thereby defining a volume bounded within the framing elements and by the bottom;
    • a closure mechanism for selectively closing the open top, the closure mechanism comprising:
      • a primary flap for covering the open top hingedly connected at the open top to the back section, the primary flap operable between a closed position and an open position, the primary flap covering the open top and being under elastic tension when in a closed position, the primary flap exposing the open top and being free of the elastic tension when in an open position; and
      • a first handle operatively connected to the primary flap for snappingly engaging an open position of the primary flap; and
    • a second handle disposed in the front section of the container for handling and transporting the container.

The bottom may be releasably secured to the framing elements for selectively engaging an operative position of the container.

In accordance with an embodiment of the container, the bottom may be foldable along an axis within the transverse plane for engaging a collapsed position of the container.

The closure mechanism may further include a secondary flap hingedly connected to the front side and overlappable over the primary flap. Preferably, the secondary flap is operable between a closed position and an open position, the secondary flap overlapping the primary flap and being under elastic tension when in a closed position, the secondary flap exposing the open top and being free of the elastic tension when in an open position.

The first handle may include a loop of material operatively connected to the primary flap and the back section.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention and its advantages will be more easily understood after reading the following non-restrictive description of preferred embodiments thereof, made with reference to the following drawings in which:

FIGS. 1a and 1b are perspective views of the container according to an embodiment of the present invention, showing the container respectively in a closed and open position;

FIGS. 2a and 2b are top views of the container of FIG. 1, showing the container respectively in an open and closed position;

FIG. 3 is a perspective detailed view showing the closure mechanism for the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 5a, 5b, 5c and 5d are side views of the container of FIG. 1, showing respectively open, closed, folded and flat configurations of the container;

FIG. 6 is a front view of a container according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a side view of the container of FIG. 6;

FIG. 9 is a different perspective view of the container of FIG. 6;

FIG. 10 is a perspective side view of the container of FIG. 6, showing a collapsed configuration of the container;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 6, showing the container in a closed configuration;

FIG. 12 is a perspective back view of the container of FIG. 11, showing the closure mechanism;

FIG. 13 is a different perspective view of the container of FIG. 6, showing the container in a closed configuration;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 6, showing the container being transported;

FIGS. 15a, 15b, and 15c are respectively perspective, front and side views of the container according to yet another embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 16a and 16b are front and back views of the container of FIG. 15a;

FIG. 17a is a partial side view of the top of the container of FIG. 15c; FIG. 17b is a detailed partial view of FIG. 17a;

FIG. 18a is a top view of the container of FIG. 15a; FIG. 18b is a detailed partial side view of the bottom of the container of FIG. 15c;

FIG. 19a is a side view of an alternating stack of containers according to the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 15a; FIG. 19b is a detailed partial perspective view of the stack of containers of FIG. 19a; and FIG. 19c is a perspective view of the stack of containers of FIG. 19a.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

In general, the present invention provides a container useful for transporting and storing any number of items or materials, including recyclable materials. At least one advantage of this container lies in the easily-actuated closure mechanism used to close the contents of the container. The description of preferred embodiments of the invention is made with reference to the accompanying drawings, FIGS. 1a to 19c, in which like numerals refer to like elements throughout.

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a container 10 that has an open top 21, a closed bottom 11 and an outside surface. The open top 21 provides an opening 29 allowing placement of items within the container 10 and removal of the items therefrom.

The container 10 includes framing elements 13 connected to the bottom 11 and projecting upwards from the bottom 11 towards the top 21. The framing elements are symmetric about a transverse plane 23, transecting the bottom 11 and top 21 and defining a front section (also referred to as consumer side) 37 and a back section 39 (also referred to as collector side) of the container 11.

Of course, the framing elements may be embodied by rods, wires, strips of material (see FIGS. 1 to 5) or any other appropriate embodiment capable of providing a framing structure for the container 10. The framing elements 13 are preferably connected to each other, for example via mechanical means, such as live or mechanical hinges 36 or press-fit connections, or in the case of framing elements made of rigid fabric, they may be for example sewn together or glued together. Alternatively, they may be made of a single piece of material, for example a single piece of extruded plastic, as seen in the embodiment of the container 10 in FIGS. 6 to 14 and the embodiment in FIGS. 15 to 19.

As especially seen in FIGS. 6 to 14, the framing elements 13 may further define supports 51 extending from the bottom 11 for supporting the container in an upright position when in operative use. The supports advantageously also maintain the bottom 11 of the container off the ground surface allowing for aeration of the contents of the container and drainage of any accumulated liquid (for example rainwater or liquid that may have come from the disposed recycled material) through any holes 62 in the bottom 11 of the container 10.

Fabric material 15 is attached, sewn, glued or otherwise connected to the framing elements 13, and generally espouses the shape defined by the framing elements and defines a volume bounded within the framing elements 13 and by the bottom 11. The fabric material may be a breathable material allowing aeration of the contents of the container. Mesh material, of any suitable composition such as nylon or plastic, may be used to advantageously provide aeration and visual inspection of the contents.

The container 10 itself, in general, may be made of any appropriate material, including a thermoplastic material flexible over a wide temperature range. Preferably, the fabric material 15 used is HDPE, which is resistant, relatively firm but flexible enough to not crack especially in areas of harsh elements (for example cold temperatures). Further preferably, the frame elements 13 are semi-rigid, providing stiffness to the container but also allowing some play for users that will often fill the container to the brim or with heavier or bulkier objects.

Alternatively, the container 10 may be made of a single extruded piece of plastic as with the embodiment shown in FIGS. 15 to 19. In an alternative embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 to 14, the container is foldable but made of a rigid plastic, preferably of a mesh type configuration permitting air circulation and visual inspections of the contents.

The bottom 11 of the container 10 may be solid. As seen in the embodiment of FIGS. 15 to 19, where the container is a unitary structure, it may be integral with the container structure itself. The bottom may include a breathable fabric material or be made of a mesh material similar to the fabric material 15 used for the outer surface of the container 10. It may further be rigid. In the case of a solid bottom, the bottom may be advantageously provided with at least one drainage hole 62.

The bottom 11 may be hingedly connected to the framing elements 13, for example using such hinges as a mechanical hinge (e.g. hinge 33 and 35 seen in FIG. 4), a live hinge or any other type of hinge, to allow the container to collapse into a less voluminous configuration. The bottom may be releasably secured in an operative position to ensure the non-collapse of the container when in use. It may be foldable along an axis 25 within the transverse plane 23 for engaging the collapsed position of the container.

Now, in order to be able to selectively close the open top 21 of the container 10, a closure mechanism 60 is provided. The closure mechanism includes a primary flap 53 for covering the open top 21. The primary flap 53 is hingedly connected, preferably using a live hinge 57, to the back section 39 (the collector side) at the top 21 of the container 10. To close the open top 21, the primary flap 53 is flipped over to cover the open top 21 and in so doing it is placed under elastic tension from the hinged connection; this elastic tension also serving to maintain the primary flap in place. When the primary flap 53 is flipped back to the open position to uncover the open top, the elastic tension is released and the primary flap is no longer under this elastic tension.

A secondary flap 55 may be provided. This secondary flap 55 is hingedly connected to the front side (consumer side) 37 and overlaps the primary flap 53. When engaging the closed position of the top 21, this secondary flap 55 is flipped over the primary flap 53 and is thus placed under elastic tension, keeping it in the closed position. When engaging the open position, the secondary flap 55 is flipped back and the elastic tension is released.

To secure the container in the closed position, securing means such as a tie or clip hinge 61 may be provided.

To facilitate the re-engagement of the open position from the closed position of the primary flap 53, and closure mechanism in general, a first (collector) handle 19 is provided. This collector handle 19 is operatively connected to the primary flap. Upon grabbing of this handle 19, the primary flap 53 is snapped out of its closed position, releasing the elastic tension which held it in the closed position, and is flipped into an open position uncovering the top and allowing access to the contents of the container 10. This first handle 19 may include a loop of material connected to the primary flap as shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 15 to 19. The first handle 19 may be connected to the primary flap 53 and the back section (collector side) 39 of the container 10 near the top of the container or to the primary flap 53 and the back section (collector side) 39 of the container 10 near the bottom of the container. Of course, as long as it is operatively connected to the primary flap 53, it may be connected to any appropriate spot which would allow the actuation of the open position.

A second (consumer) handle 17 disposed in the front section (consumer side) 37 of the container 10 for handling and transporting the container. This consumer handle 17 may include an opening in the fabric material 15 or the framing elements as shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 15 to 19 or a loop of material as seen in the embodiments of FIGS. 1 to 14.

A third handle 31 may be provided for further facilitating handling the container 10. This third handle may be disposed on or near the bottom 11. It may be a recess in the bottom 11 of the container or it may include a loop material.

The first 19, second 17, and third 31 handles may be integral with the container 10 and its structural elements.

Although the many features of the present invention have been described hereinabove with reference to many alternate forms of embodiments of the container of the present invention, a more detailed description of one of the embodiments, that shown in FIGS. 1 to 5d, illustrating a working relationship of the elements, follows.

As seen in FIG. 4, the bottom 11 is preferably hexagonal in shape, where its long axis is generally coincident with the transverse axis 25 of the transverse plane 23.

The frame elements 13 thus comprise a bottom element 42 shaped and sized to conform to the outside of bottom 11. Opposite ends of the elements 42 include vertical posts 41. Intermediate posts 43 also project upwardly, and join at intermediate apex 27. Bridge segment 45 bridges the frame from intermediate apex 27 to top 21 of frame. The frame elements 13 are completed by top arms 47 extending from top 21 of frame to the upper portion of the vertical posts 41. Viewed from the top, the top arms 47 define a square opening (see FIG. 2a).

The vertical posts 41 of the consumer side are preferably hingedly connected to the vertical posts 41 of the collector side.

Also preferably, the intermediate posts 43 project outwardly, so that the intermediate apex 27 projects beyond the bottom 11.

The bottom 11 is preferably hingedly connected to the frame 13 along an edge parallel to the plane 23 on the consumer side. Furthermore, for purposes which will be explained hereinafter, the bottom 11 is also foldable along axis 25.

A closure mechanism 60 is further provided at top 21 of container 10, to close the container to protect the contents from the elements.

The closure mechanism is preferably a clip hinge 61.

The consumer handle 17 is preferably connected in the vicinity of apex 27 on the consumer side of the container. The apex is further preferably located slightly below the top of the vertical posts, so that the fabric over the intermediate posts and the bottom defines an outwardly projecting surface 49 (see FIGS. 1a, 1b and 5a). The distances are so selected that when the container is lifted for transport, the cooperation between the center of gravity of the container and the consumer handle results in surface 49 lying generally parallel to a consumer's leg, preventing interference from the container when walking.

On the other side of container, the collector handle 19 is preferably a loop of material extending from the apex 27 (or higher) to the top 21 of container. Further preferably, the handle 19 is further preferably operatively connected to hinge 61 so that when the collector grabs handle 19, the weight of the container 10 combined with the pulling motion on the handle 19 opens hinge 61 (if closed, of course) in one step. Advantageously, in order to facilitate the emptying of the container 10 in a truck or the like, the container is further provided with a second collector handle 31 on the bottom. Thus, with his or her two hands, the collector can efficiently grab the bag from the top and the bottom in order to empty container 10.

As mentioned previously, a variety of hinges, mechanical or otherwise, are provided in container. Notably, the bottom 21 is hingedly connected to the frame, so that the bottom can be snapped into the operative position, giving shape to the bottom of the frame. It can also be unclipped or unsnapped and pivoted upwardly. In such a case, and referring now to FIGS. 5a, 5b, 5c, and 5d, the container can be completely folded and flattened, for shipping and storage purposes (a definite advantage of the rigid plastic bins of the prior art).

In an alternative embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 6 to 14, the container is foldable but made of a rigid plastic, preferably of a mesh type configurations permitting air circulation and visual inspections of the contents. In another embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 15 to 19, the container is not collapsible and is made of a single piece of extruded plastic. All other structural elements remain basically the same.

Although embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail herein and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to these precise embodiments and that various changes and modifications may be effected therein without departing from the scope of the present invention.





 
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