A Cleaner, Rat-Free NYC: Mayor Adams’ Sweeping Trash Reforms

From Black Bags to Lidded Bins: How NYC is Reclaiming Its Sidewalks

In New York City, the streets have often been notorious for mounds of trash bags awaiting collection. Not only is this unsightly, but it has also proven to be an invitation for rats. However, Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch are committed to turning the tide on this lingering issue.

Rewind to spring, when DSNY published a seminal report titled “The Future of Trash.” This substantial document encompassed a block-by-block analysis of the Herculean task of ridding sidewalks of the black bags of trash – a veritable feast for rats. While a significant portion of this report addressed the 24 million pounds of residential waste collected daily, it also delved into commercial waste, which can at times be eightfold compared to residential waste in certain business districts.

Fast-forward to today, when Mayor Adams and Commissioner Tisch have announced the launch of the next two phases to tackle this issue. This ambitious plan mandates that all food-related businesses must place their trash in secure containers. Furthermore, this requirement will extend to all chain businesses with a minimum of five locations in New York City. Upon implementation, 25 percent of businesses across the five boroughs will fall under this rule, equating to approximately 4 million pounds of waste being securely contained daily.

white mouse on brown cardboard box

The administration’s commitment to ensuring cleaner streets traces back to May when DSNY proposed a rule requiring all food-related businesses, which are estimated at around 40,000 in the five boroughs, to secure their trash and compostable materials in containers rather than directly placing them on the street. These business types were primarily selected since they are responsible for a disproportionately high volume of waste that attracts rats.

This week will witness a monumental step as the rule is published in the City Record and is slated to go into effect on July 30, 2023. These containers, which will play an instrumental role in the initiative, must have lids and secure sides to prevent rat access, but businesses will have flexibility regarding the type and location of containers.

As we revisit the present, it’s significant to note that U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has lauded Mayor Adams’ efforts. She termed it a ‘rat-ical action,’ a play on words that underscores the importance of this initiative in combatting the rodent issue plaguing New York City.

In conclusion, this initiative by Mayor Adams and Commissioner Tisch not only aims to make New York City’s streets cleaner but also addresses the persistent rodent issue. Through these transformative steps, the city is advancing towards its goal of reclaiming its streets, enhancing cleanliness, and making them more appealing for both residents and visitors.

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