Plan Announced to Containerize Waste at Nearly All Residential Buildings
With these new rules, 70% of the city’s trash is headed into containers.
Mayor Adams and DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch recently announced a new front in the administration’s war on rats. They’re launching a plan to containerize waste at approximately 95 percent of residential properties across the five boroughs. The new residential garbage containerization rule will cover all 765,000 NYC buildings with nine or fewer units, continuing the Adams administration’s work to move towards containerization of all waste citywide.
This move follows Mayor Adams and Commissioner Tisch’s expansion of containerization rules to get all commercial trash bags off city streets. Between the commercial containerization effort and these sweeping new residential rules, 70 percent of the city’s trash is headed into containers. As a result of these recent efforts, according to the city, this past summer, 311 calls about rat activity dropped by 20 percent citywide from the previous summer and 45 percent in Rat Mitigation Zones.
Requirement to Containerize Waste
Beginning in the fall of 2024, buildings with nine or fewer residential units will be required to place all trash in secure containers, and in specific, official NYC Bins beginning in the summer of 2026. The official NYC Bins will be available from a vendor through a request for proposal process, with prices capped substantially lower than they would be in retail stores. This new, multi-phase strategy is intended to get black bags off city streets.
Newly Designed Bins
The official NYC Bins will be designed for mechanized collection. DSNY will retrofit or replace hundreds of collection trucks, adding mechanical tippers compatible with the new bins. This upgrade will speed up collection and minimize the possibility of street mess from manual collection. It also brings New York City in line with other cities that have abandoned the practice of throwing bags from the curb into a truck by hand in many or all cases.
DSNY has mandated that the vendor produce the bin in multiple sizes to accommodate different types of buildings and to match a number of specifications around aesthetics, rat resistance, ease of use by sanitation workers, and compatibility with mechanized collection.
Owners to Purchase Bins
In most major U.S. cities, where bins are required for trash, property owners pay a fee for sanitation service that covers the cost of the bin. Because New York City provides free, unlimited residential waste collection, the city says the owners will be responsible for purchasing the bin.
However, DSNY has set a maximum price far below what one would pay at a retail store. The request for proposals states that official NYC Bins, which will be designed to last at least 10 years, will start at no more than $50 for the most common size, and the competitive vendor selection process may bring the price down even further.
Plan for Larger Residential Buildings
According to the city’s announcement, there’s also a plan to containerize residential trash in the remaining 5 percent of buildings, which have 10 or more units. While the bins for buildings with 9 units or fewer are placed on the sidewalk for collection, containers for the largest buildings will go on the street, though many large buildings have loading docks and won’t require containers.
This on-street container approach is being piloted on 10 residential blocks and at 14 schools in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan, and developments in this process will be the subject of future announcements. However, the truck needed for the at-scale use of fixed on-street containers, known as an Automated Side Loader (ASL), does not currently exist in North America. DSNY is currently developing a prototype of an ASL that meets North American regulations.
Timeline of City’s Phased Approach
to Trash Containerization
- April 1, 2023: City changes waste set-out time from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. This change incentivized the use of containers by allowing containerized waste to go out earlier, at 6 p.m.
- July 30, 2023: A new rule required all food-related businesses including restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, delis, and bodegas, among others to containerize their waste. This rule covered approximately 20 percent of the city’s businesses, a subset that produces an outsized amount of the kind of waste that attracts rats. During a one-month warning period, DSNY issued over 22,000 warnings to businesses covered under the rule that weren’t following the new guidance.
- Sept. 5, 2023: The food-related businesses rule was expanded to cover all chain businesses with five or more locations in the city, regardless of what they sell, bringing the share of businesses covered up to 25 percent.
- Sept. 11, 2023: DSNY launched a pilot of residential containerization and mechanized collection at 14 schools and on 10 residential blocks in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan.
- March 1, 2024: All businesses will be required to containerize all their trash. Businesses account for approximately half the total trash on city streets.