In Battle Against Trash and Rats, N.Y.C. Officials Try a Schedule Shift

For more than 50 years, New Yorkers have been faced with mountains of garbage bags piling up on the side of the road as early as 4 p.m., creating an eye-popping sensation that assaults all senses and sensitivities. everyone who passes by.

With the exception of the rats, of course, which burrow themselves into the dustbin, often appearing at times of least opportunity for unsuspecting passersby.

With complaints about trash and rats on the rise and concerns that the city is looking dirtier than it did in decades past, sanitation officials are proposing a solution they hope will help clean up the roads. city.

Under a proposed rule backed by Mayor Eric Adams’ administration, residential and commercial trash cans will not be allowed on the curb before 8 p.m. It must be placed at the curb before midnight, which is also true under current rules.

If bins with rat-proof lids are used, residents can empty their trash two hours earlier, and commercial trash cans using those can be set for collection one hour before the business closes.

The current 4pm start time – one of the earliest garbage disposal times in major cities in the world – means trash can sit on the sidewalk for 14 hours before the cleaning truck rumbles. towed.

Jessica Tisch, the sanitation commissioner, said in an interview: “The black bags serve as an all-you-can-eat buffet for the rats. “If the bags are sitting out there for 14 hours, it’s a long buffet and we want to shut it down.”

This change is part of an overall strategy by Mayor Adams and City Council to address the growing concerns of residents and businesses about the cleanliness of the city’s streets. According to the Mayor’s Management Report, covering the first six months of Mr. Adams’s term, the number of streets rated as acceptably clean fell 4% year-on-year. Call to 311 about see rodents and garbage on the sidewalk also increased.

The rats see through the roof. During recess, they scare our kids,” said Shaun Abreu, a councilor from Upper Manhattan who is funding legislation to help enact the rules.

The proposed rules, scheduled for a public hearing in November and set to go into effect in April, come after negotiations with the Real Estate Board of New York, the companies construction workers represented by 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union and the Uniform Cleaning Association, among others.

The city has also created a new early morning program that allows residential buildings with 9 units or more to place curbside trash for three hours, starting at 4 a.m., for 7 a.m. pickup. am.

Ms. Tisch acknowledges the rise of dirty streets and rat sightings and blames cut the city’s sanitation budget during the pandemic. Mr. Adams and City Council have allotted $22 million in the budget to dump trash more frequently and restore street sweeping to pre-pandemic levels.

The city also offers a organic composting efforts around the world in Queens to help reduce the 12,000 tons of trash and recycling cleaning workers remove daily from the city’s streets.

In September, the city begins Garbage collection during the three-day weekend to prevent it from piling up. And overnight garbage collection has been increased, with 2,500 tons of trash now being collected during the overnight hours.

“Bags of trash lying on the sidewalks for hours have plagued our city’s recovery for a long time,” Mr. Adams said in a statement. “It’s one of New York’s most indelible images, but today we say enough is enough.”

The effects of garbage dumped early in the evening can be seen in neighborhoods like the West Village, where narrow sidewalks, eating shacks and an increase in rats have combined to annoy residents. and businesses.

On Friday night, piles of recyclables were piled up in the flowerbed of a tree on Downing Street, and pedestrians had to step out onto the sidewalk to avoid the piles. On Bedford Street, a pile of trash and recyclables took up parking outside a spa. Area maintenance workers continued to dump new trash bags until the pile was taller than nearby cars.

Jessica Corsino, 34, a nurse at the spa, said it was unusual to see a large pile of rubbish outside the store. She says an earlier pickup would help with places like the West Village, but her old home in the Norwood area of ​​the Bronx needed a more comprehensive solution.

“We need to focus on other counties because there are worse problems,” Ms. Corsino said.

At Spunto, a restaurant on Carmine Street, a pile of trash from nearby residential buildings sits in the roadway next to the restaurant’s alfresco dining area, just inches from where patrons are eating.

Elisabeth Jeffrey, 31, a valet, said vehicles often run through garbage bags, making them more accessible to rodents. She adds that the ideal time to put trash cans is after midnight.

Ms Jeffrey said: ‘Customers complained because it smelled like garbage and rodents were running around. “Sometimes I try to get people in, but sometimes they just walk away.”

Sanitation officials believe New Yorkers have been sending their trash to the curb in bags starting at 4 p.m. since about 1971 when the city stopped requiring the use of metal trash cans. Officials aren’t sure why 4 p.m. was chosen, but New York has become a standout among major cities because of how early it allows for trash cans to be picked up.

According to a survey by the Sanitation Bureau, Toronto, San Francisco and St. Louis all allow trash to be dropped off at 6 p.m. or later. In Barcelona, ​​Spain, trash cans are emptied after 8pm and in Buenos Aires, people can empty their trash at 7pm

As the city experimented with canning, expanding its organic collection and how commercial waste is eliminatedSandy Nurse, a council member from Brooklyn who chairs the sanitation committee, said an interim step was needed.

We’re the only major city in the country that manages residential trash the way we do,” Nurse said. “We had bags full of food to stay out all night and by morning had been ripped off by rats. It doesn’t make any sense.”


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