DSNY Proposes New Trash Collection Rules
The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) recently announced the opening of the public comment period for new proposed rules regarding when to put out garbage for collection. The aim of the new rules is to reduce the number of hours trash and recycling will sit on New York City sidewalks by adjusting the time of day when trash may be placed on the curb. In doing so, the city hopes to keep streets cleaner, discourage the proliferation of rats, and remove tripping hazards for pedestrians during rush hour.
Currently, trash and recycling may be placed on the curb after 4 p.m. the night before collection for residential buildings and one hour before closing for commercial properties. City officials have pointed out that this is the earliest of any major American city. And in many neighborhoods, putting out the trash at 4 p.m. means these items can sit out for more than 14 hours, including during the evening pedestrian rush hour. A 2020 audit on NYC cleanliness by the Office of the New York State Comptroller found that 70 percent of surveyed streets and 59 percent of sidewalks were dirty, based on the city’s own street cleanliness scorecard criteria. In addition, rodent complaints have increased from pre-pandemic lows to record highs in 2022.
"Bags of trash sitting on the curb for hours have hurt our city's recovery for too long and is one of the most indelible images of New York, but, today, we're saying enough is enough by making a generations-overdue change that will have a real impact on the cleanliness of our streets," said Mayor Adams in announcing the new proposed rules. "By drastically reducing the amount of time that black bags can sit on our curb, we're not just catching up with other cities but surpassing them and leading the nation again.”
The proposed rules, which are scheduled for a public hearing in November and would take effect in April, come after negotiations with the Real Estate Board of New York, building workers represented by 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, and the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, among others. As a result of the negotiations, the city agreed to give larger residential buildings with nine or more units another option for setting their trash out. This was a concession that helped gain the union’s buy-in.
We’ll go over the time options for setting out the trash and explain the next steps DSNY will undertake before rolling out the final rules.
Proposed Set-Out Times
The new rules are expected to go into effect on April 1, 2023. Under the new rules, set-out times will be based on the number of units in the building and how the materials are placed out at the curb for collection. Enforcement of the new rules will be handled just like other sanitation policy infractions.
For those using receptacles with tight-fitting rat-resistant lids, such receptacles containing solid waste and recyclables may be placed at the curb for collection by DSNY no earlier than 6 p.m. on the day before their scheduled collection. If you’re using bags, you could place materials at the curb for collection by DSNY no earlier than 8 p.m. on the day before scheduled collection. In both cases, solid waste and recyclables must be curbside by midnight, as current rules dictate, to allow for collection beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the scheduled collection day.
Multiunit Building Collection Program. DSNY is also proposing to create an enrollment-based Multiunit Building Collection Program for multiple dwellings that contain nine or more dwelling units. This program will allow approved buildings with on-site maintenance or janitorial staff to opt to set out waste for collection between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. on the day of collection rather than after 6 p.m. (if in a container with a lid) or 8 p.m. the night before collection. This will provide flexibility to building staff in terms of changes to scheduled shifts necessary to implement this rule change.
To enroll in this program, an owner, or his or her agent, of a multiunit building would be required to submit an application to DSNY during the annual program application period (Jan. 2–Jan. 31). DSNY will review these applications and either approve or deny them in writing by the following March 1, and enrollment will be effective April 1. Buildings will have their enrollment automatically renewed each year unless they opt out during the annual program application period. DSNY may terminate a building’s enrollment in this program at any time with 30 days’ notice if the building’s participation in the program constitutes a public nuisance or if the building fails to comply with the requirements.
Additional DSNY Actions
More overnight collection. In addition to these new proposed rules, DSNY is doing more of its collection on the midnight shift than pre-pandemic, reducing the amount of time trash sits on the street. According to DSNY, overnight collection now accounts for approximately one quarter of all collection operations, which helps reduce the daytime presence of garbage bags.
Bin research. DSNY and the city’s Economic Development Corporation also recently awarded the McKinsey & Company consulting firm a $4 million contract to examine the implementation of a citywide container bin pilot program. For 20 weeks, the firm will study other cities that use containers and identify what types of bins to hold garbage bags would work best for New York City.
Composting in Queens. In addition, the city recently launched a program to collect compost in Queens to help reduce the 12,000 tons of trash and recycling sanitation workers remove daily from city streets. In October, garbage trucks in Queens began picking up separated food scraps and yard waste. This initiative is separate from a City Council bill that would require mandatory citywide organics collection by the end of 2023 for nearly every building in New York City (Intro 244-2022). This bill is part of a legislative package that has gathered a veto-proof number of sponsors, including the speaker, Adrienne Adams, and Sandy Nurse, the sanitation committee chair.
The proposed rules are subject to public comment under the City Administrative Procedure Act. The comment period will be open until Nov. 18, and a public hearing on the proposed rules will be held on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 9:30 a.m. via video conferencing. Anyone can comment on the proposed rules by:
Website. You can submit comments to DSNY through the NYC rules website at http://rules.cityofnewyork.us.
Email. You can email written comments to email@example.com.
Mail. You can mail written comments to DSNY, 125 Worth St., Rm. 710, New York, NY 10013. The deadline for submitting written comments is Nov. 18, 2022.
By speaking at the hearing. Anyone who wants to comment on the proposed rule at the public hearing must sign up to speak. You can sign up before the hearing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 17, 2022, at 5 p.m.
After considering these public comments, DSNY will publish final rules later this year.
Proposed Trash & Recycling Set-Out Options
Residential buildings would have up to three options, each of which is designed to substantially decrease the amount of time trash is on the curb:
- Place trash out after 6 p.m. in a secure container;
- Place trash out after 8 p.m. if putting bags directly on the curb; or
- If a building has nine or more residential units, the owner may opt-in to a 4–7 a.m. set-out window instead. The opt-in period will run for the month of January each year, allowing DSNY to design quick and efficient routes that take effect April 1.