In an effort to reduce the amount of time piles of black garbage bags clog city streets each day, Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday that he’s pushing back the time residential buildings and businesses can place trash on the curb from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The new proposed rules are intended to lessen the presence of the unsightly black trash bag piles that often sit on streets overnight, up to 14 hours, reducing precious sidewalk space during the evening rush hour and attracting scores of rodents. The 4 p.m. set out time is among the earliest for cities around the country and the globe.
The new guidance from the city Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is set to take effect April 1 of next year, following a public comment period starting immediately. The period will extend until Nov. 10 and the first hearing will be held this Thursday at 9:30 a.m. DSNY will issue final rules by the end of the year after taking public feedback into consideration.
During a news conference outside City Hall, Hizzoner said with this announcement, his administration is doing what many before him had failed to do – tackle the trash and rat problem that have plagued city streets for decades.
“Today we are announcing a once in a generation change that would have a real impact on the cleanliness of our city,” the mayor said. “We are drastically reducing the amount of time that garbage will remain on our curb. We’re shifting the time where people can set out black bags and trash from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. That’s four hours fewer than previously.”
“It made no sense that these garbage bags have remained on the street for such a long period of time,” he continued. “They have become open season for rodents going into these bags, creating a real health problem in our city.”
The mayor was joined by his chief advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin – credited with getting these proposed rules over the finish line, DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch, Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi and City Council Member Shaun Abreu (D-Manhattan).
Adams emphasized that since his time as Brooklyn Borough President there has been no love lost between himself and the tiny four-legged creatures.
“Everyone that knows me, they know one thing: I hate rats,” Adams said. “When we started killing them in Borough Hall, you know, some of the same folks that are criticizing us now were calling me a murderer because I was killing rats. Well, you know what, we’re gonna kill rats. Rats have no place in the city. And we’re going to use every method that’s needed to do so. So they’re harming families and our quality of life.”
The proposed rules will apply to recyclables and compost in addition to trash headed for landfills.
While 8 p.m. is the new standard time that residential and commercial buildings can first place black trash bags directly on the curb, there are an array of options for those wishing to put trash out earlier, Tisch said. Residents can put their garbage out starting at 6 p.m., she said, as long as it’s in a container with a lid. And for buildings with nine or more residential units, the property owner can opt into an early morning set out time between 4 and 7 a.m.
The added morning time slot was won by 32BJ SEIU, the building service workers union, which initially opposed the proposal because it would’ve required the thousands of workers who haul the trash out onto the street to take on later shifts.
“After productive discussions, 32BJ SEIU, Mayor Eric Adams, and the other key stakeholders involved in the Administration’s trash schedule proposal developed a plan that addresses the rodent and trash problem and ensures that our building service workers can do their jobs effectively without upending their lives,” union President Kyle Bragg in a statement. “We entered into this discussion with the same goal as Mayor Adams, and as a result, we secured an agreement that places the city and our members in a better position.”
For commercial businesses, which have their trash picked up by private carting services rather than DSNY, Tisch said they could either place bags on the sidewalk at the standard time or set it out an hour earlier in a lidded container.
The sanitation department is also doing more of its pickups on the midnight shift than before the coronavirus pandemic, Tisch said – meaning that overnight pickups now account for roughly one quarter of all collections. Both the later set out time and the increased collections overnight should significantly reduce the 14 hours that trash typically languishes on sidewalks.
“What we are proposing to do here by shifting the time that bags go out on the curb to 8 p.m., combined with our additional collection that we do on the midnight shift, reduces that down to four hours,” Tisch said. “And that is taking a really really big swing both at the cleanliness of our streets and the rat issue.”