NYC to fight ‘plague of rats’ by pushing back trash pick-up to 8 p.m.

October 18, 2022

Photo by Ryan Vaarsi on Flickr

New York City wants to adjust the time of day trash can be put out as a way to curb rat infestations and improve overall cleanliness. Mayor Eric Adams on Monday announced a proposal to push back the window New Yorkers can put out their trash for collection from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The city says this policy change will make the streets cleaner, ease traffic and pedestrian flow, and reduce the number of rats drawn to trash. The proposed rules are open to a public comment period through November 10, with final rules set to take effect on April 1, 2023.

“No more tripping over black bags during the rush hour,” Adams said during a press conference Monday. “No more watching these bags litter our sidewalks earlier in the day.”

The mayor added: “We’re not going to allow this plague of rats to destroy the quality of life in our city.”

The new trash policy changes for residential buildings are as follows:

  • Place trash outside after 6 p.m. if held within a secure container,
  • Place trash outside after 8 p.m. if held in a bag put on the curb, or
  • If a building has nine or more residential units, the property owner can sign up for a 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. set-out period instead. This opt-in period will take place during January of every year, giving the DSNY time to adjust their routes to be most efficient.

The policy for commercial establishments that use private garbage collectors is:

  • Place trash outside after 8 p.m. if held in a bag put on the curb, or
  • Place trash outside one hour before closing in a secure container.

The policy shift would better align New York City’s trash collection protocol with other major cities, as first reported by Politico. By picking up trash later in the day when streets and sidewalks are emptier, traffic will flow better and pedestrians will be free of eyesores that obstruct their path.

The number of streets that have been rated sufficiently clean decreased by 4 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Mayor’s Management Report. Rat sightings have also increased exponentially, with more than 21,000 rat sightings reported to 311, according to the New York Times.

“The time to do this was really in the 1970s when the city banned residential incinerators and created the modern black bag regime, but the second-best time is right now, when our city’s recovery hangs in the balance,” DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch said. “New Yorkers want the streets cleaned up, and seeing the bags for a few hours a day instead of more than half the day will make a huge, huge difference.”

DSNY has been doing the majority of trash collection during its midnight shift, with overnight collection accounting for roughly one-quarter of all collections, or approximately 5 million pounds of waste per night.

To further combat trash piling up, DSNY rolled out a pilot composting program in August. Residential buildings were given free compost bins where they could dispose of compost and organic waste to be picked up weekly.

The policy change will be reviewed by the public under the City Administrative Procedure Act. New Yorkers can submit public comments through email, mail, or the city’s website until November 18.

A public hearing will be held on November 18 at 9:30 a.m. DSNY will take the public’s comments into account and publish the final rules later in the year.


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