The city is “strongly” considering pushing back the time trash bags are allowed to be placed on sidewalks, according to Sanitation Department officials.
Currently, city regulations allow buildings and businesses to place their trash and recycling on sidewalks at 4 p.m. for overnight and next-day pickup — the earliest departure time of any major U.S. city, according to the DSNY.
However, the ministry said it was now considering moving that set time to 8 p.m. to try to tackle rodent and dirty street issues.
“New Yorkers put millions of pounds of trash and recycling on the street from 4 p.m. – just as the evening rush begins – and then it stays outside, serving as a nightclub for rats and the like parasites, until they are collected. Soon we will try to shut down the club,” DSNY spokesperson Joshua Goodman said in a statement.
Goodman noted that in addition to a later check-out time, the department will also work toward earlier pick-up times, to reduce the time trash sits on city sidewalks.
“We do most of our collection during the night shift, having the bags cleaned before most people wake up. You defined it later. We’ll pick it up sooner,” he said.
“Clean streets are essential to the city’s recovery, and between these changes and our containerization pilot in five boroughs, we’re working to shave the shadow of 5:00 a.m. trash bags in New York City.”
The proposed set-up time has not been finalized and it remains unclear when or if the change will be enacted.
The Sanitation Department noted that under the proposal it would be possible to place trash on sidewalks before 8 p.m., as long as the bags are contained in a bin.
Residential waste would also be allowed out in a bin, with a secure lid, starting at 6 p.m. Commercial waste would be allowed in a bin with a secure lid from one hour before a business closes. But a regular black garbage bag would have to wait until 8 o’clock at night, and this concerns some companies.
“We close at 6 p.m.,” said Bruce Eder, manager of Westsider Records on the Upper West Side. “It’s ridiculous that we have to have someone come back at 8 p.m. to take out the trash and we don’t have food waste. ‘You want to put trash cans along 72nd Street?’ I wonder how some people are doing bear it,”
The department also said it currently picks up about 5 million pounds of trash and recycling between midnight and 8 a.m., which is “several times higher than before the pandemic.” They added that they try to limit the hours when the bags are left out.
As with any change in municipal policy, this would not happen overnight. If the Department of Sanitation were to move forward, several formal steps would be required, including a public comment period, which would take a few months.