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Mayor Adams, Sanitation Commissioner Tisch Announce Next Steps in War on Rats: Rules Requiring More Businesses to Containerize Their Waste

June 28, 2023

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New York – As part of the Adams administration's ongoing commitment to "Get Stuff Clean" and continue the city's war on rats, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch today announced the launch of the next two phases in getting bags of trash off of city sidewalks. First, the Adams administration is publishing a final rule mandating that all food-related businesses put their trash in secure containers. Second, the administration is starting the rulemaking process on a new proposal to expand the containerization requirements to all chain businesses with five or more locations in New York City. When both rules are implemented, they will cover 25 percent of businesses across the five boroughs and require approximately 4 million pounds of waste produced each day to be placed in secure containers – making New York City's streets cleaner and more welcoming to all.

"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. "Today, we take giant steps towards that goal by announcing new rules to containerize trash in our city that, once finalized, will cover 25 percent of businesses and result in 4 million pounds of trash getting disposed of in secure bins each day. 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."

"Today's rules take us another step forward towards the end of trash bag mountains and the start of a containerized city," said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. "I'm thankful to Mayor Adams, the Department of Sanitation, and our partners in the restaurant and food industry for helping us give New Yorkers back their sidewalks and cut the rats off from their all-you-can-eat buffet."

"New York is the home of the best restaurants in the world. I know it, you know it – and the rats know it, too," said DSNY Commissioner Tisch. "When you leave food behind, they're ready for a gourmet meal, with the black bags outside food-related businesses basically serving as a to-go box for the rats. That ends now."

This spring, DSNY published an approximately 100-page report, "The Future of Trash," providing the first-ever detailed, block-by-block analysis of what it would take to get the black bags of trash – the all-you-can-eat buffet for rats – off the sidewalks. once and for all. While the bulk of the report focused on the 24 million pounds of residential waste that DSNY collects each day, it also explored solutions for dealing with commercial waste, which can be up to eight times the volume of residential waste in certain business districts.

In May, DSNY proposed a rule requiring all food-related businesses – including restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, delis, and bodegas, among others – to put trash and compostable material into secure containers rather than directly on the street. There are approximately 40,000 food-related businesses in the five boroughs – 20 percent of all businesses in the city – and these business types were selected first because they produce an outsized amount of waste, especially waste that attracts rats. Later this week, that rule will be published in the City Record, and it will go into effect on July 30, 2023.

The Adams administration is also building on its commitment to an aggressive, phased approach towards containerization by announcing a plan to expand the container requirement to all chain stores with five or more locations.

Under these two rules, businesses will have substantial flexibility on the type and location of containers, provided they have a lid and secure sides that keep the rats out. Containers may be stored either inside or within three feet of the property line.

"Getting trash off our sidewalks will help keep our streets squeaky clean and rat out some of the city's most persistent pests," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "I applaud Mayor Adams for taking this rat-ical action to send New York's whiskered menaces scurrying away for good, and I look forward to continuing to work together to bring about the tail end of New York's plague of rodents."

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