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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Mayor Adams, Sanitation Commissioner Tisch Announce Next Phase of War on Rats: All Businesses Must Place Trash in Containers

 New Rule, Beginning March 2024, Follows Successful Phase-In of Containerization Requirements for Food-Related Businesses, Chain Stores

Full Commercial Containerization Will Get 20 Million Pounds of Trash 
— Half of City’s Waste — off NYC Streets Every Day

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch on Tuesday, September 19, announced the next phase of the Adams administration’s war on rats: a new plan to get more black trash bags off of city sidewalks by requiring all businesses to put trash in containers. Advancing the administration’s efforts to “Get Stuff Clean,” reclaim public space, and improve quality of life for all New Yorkers, DSNY today proposed a new rule under which all commercial trash — approximately 20 million pounds per day — must be in a secure, lidded container beginning March 1, 2024.

This rule continues the Adams administration’s work of moving towards full containerization citywide, and follows an announcement earlier this summer where Mayor Adams and Commissioner Tisch announced an expansion of containerization rules to get black trash bags off city streets. The administration’s efforts over the last 20 months are working, with rat sightings down 20 percent this summer compared to last year and down 45 percent in the city’s Rat Mitigation Zones.

“We’ve declared that rats are Public Enemy Number One — but we’re not stopping there; we’re also going after the black trash bags that litter our streets, aiding and abetting rodents,” said Mayor Adams. “That’s why, starting next spring, we’re requiring every New York City business to put out their trash in containers. That’s 20 million pounds of black bags and rat buffets off our streets — every single day. Our streets will look cleaner and smell cleaner across all five boroughs, and New Yorkers won’t have to dodge trash mountains or scurrying rats as they’re walking.”

“Today’s rule marks a historic change for the cleanliness of our sidewalks and another battle won in the war on rats,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Every single New York City business will be required to containerize their trash — that’s 20 million pounds of waste a day that will now be neatly secured in bins instead of piled onto the sidewalk in leaky bags.”

“The notion that the greatest city in the world could not move its trash into wheelie bins was always patently absurd. But that’s the type of thinking that allowed the rats to thrive and our streets to reek for over 50 years,” said DSNY Commissioner Tisch. “In less than one year since the effort began, the Adams administration will have moved half of all of New York City’s trash — nearly 20 million pounds a day — from black bags into bins. And we’re going hard after the rest. Stay tuned…”

“Getting 20 million pounds of trash a day off our streets and into containers is a huge step towards our vision for a public realm New Yorkers deserve,” said Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu. “There’s no reason why New Yorkers should have to dodge leaky, stinky trash mountains on the way to work, and thanks to DSNY’s hard work, we’re putting those days in our rear-view mirror.”

“Taking away rats’ access to food is paramount to sustained rat mitigation,” said Director of Citywide Rodent Mitigation Kathleen Corradi. “The leadership from DSNY to ‘Get Stuff Clean’ and the rules to containerize waste are integral to a rat free New York City!”

The Adams administration has rapidly implemented a phased approach to containerization, including:

  • Since July 30, 2023, all food-related businesses — including restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, delis, and bodegas, among others — have been required to containerize their waste. This rule covers approximately 20 percent of the city’s businesses, a subset that produces an outsized amount of the kind of waste that attracts rats.
  • During a one-month warning period, DSNY issued over 22,000 warnings to businesses covered under the rule that were not following the new guidance.
  • On September 5, 2023, the rule expanded to cover all chain businesses with five or more locations in the city — regardless of what they sell — bringing the share of businesses covered to 25 percent.
  • A pilot of residential containerization and mechanized collection is currently underway at 14 schools and on 10 residential blocks in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan.
  • An approximately 100-page report published by DSNY this past spring, “The Future of Trash,” provided the first-ever detailed, block-by-block analysis of what it would take to get black bags of trash off city streets. 

When today’s proposed rule takes effect, 100 percent of businesses in the city will be required to containerize their trash — covering about half of all trash in the five boroughs, with the other half being residential.

Under today’s proposed rule, businesses will have substantial flexibility on the type and location of containers they utilize, provided they have a lid and secure sides that keep rats out. Containers may be stored either inside or within three feet of the property line. The proposed timeline gives businesses nearly six months’ notice before the new rule takes effect.


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