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Garbage in NYC
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All NYC businesses are now required to bin their trash instead of throwing it on the sidewalk

Will the landscape of the city sidewalk finally change?

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Written by
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

UPDATE September 20, 2023: Now, all NYC businesses will be required to place their commercial trash in secure, lidded containers starting on March 1, 2024. 

“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,” the politician said during an official press conference. “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.”

Let’s hope people will actually listen because we absolutely cannot take the sight (and smell) of piles of garbage in the middle of our beautiful streets anymore.


Walking by a seemingly endless pile of bulky trash bags is, unfortunately, a New York pastime, but that’s about to change.

In New York City's latest move in the war against the rats, DSNY's new commercial containerization policy launching on Tuesday, August 1, requires that food establishments put out their waste in bins with secure lids, not bags. The rule applies to restaurants, grocery stores, delis, bodegas, caterers, food manufacturers, food preparation establishments, food service establishments, food wholesalers, retail food stores and any other businesses selling or handling food. 

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If you love passing by street trash, know that recyclables are exempt from this new policy, so you will continue to see those bags.

The policy may also make the streets a bit cleaner during the day. Curb waste in bins can be set out an hour before the business’s closing or after 8pm. 

"New York City used to be known for our mean streets, but, going forward, we're going to be known for our clean streets," said Mayor Adams in a press conference announcing the waste container plans. The policy is expected to affect 25% of businesses in New York, and redirect 4 million pounds of trash each day to secure bins. “These two simple proposals will have a transformative effect on our city and will eliminate the mountains of food waste piled up on bags on our sidewalks—making our streets cleaner for New Yorkers and less appetizing for the rats.”

TBD what the rats will find appetizing, but new trash set-out times have seemed to make an improvement to rat complaints in the city. As of last week, new data showed that this summer has seen a 20% decrease in 311 calls about rat activity across the city, as compared to the same time period last year. Rat sighting calls in four rat mitigation zones are also down 45%. 

Have the rats given up? Or have they just decamped to the Hamptons or upstate, where some of the rat complainers may have escaped for fresher air and cleaner sidewalks? 

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