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"This is not Ratatouille:" Faced with booming rat population, New York City officials announce new plan for trash collection

New York City officials Monday announced a new plan to take on the town's problematic rat population, adjusting the hours during which residents and businesses can leave their trash out on the curb.

Mayor Eric Adams explained the new measure in a press conference, saying that starting on April 1, 2023, New Yorkers will only be able to leave their trash out after 8 p.m., instead of 4 p.m.

"This will reduce the amount of time that trash is on the street before collection, keeping our streets cleaner for a longer period of time and discouraging rodents from running their own version of what we like to say open restaurants," Adams said.

The policy is intended to keep the streets clean and clear for residents who use sidewalks across the city. It is also a war on New York City's rats.

"Fighting crime, fighting inequality, fighting rats is something that we are focused on as we continue to make this city a livable city," Adams said.

New Trash Rules In New York City To Fight Back Against Rats
People make their way past a pile of trash bags on a New York City sidewalk. Leonardo Munoz / VIEWpress via Getty Images

According to New York City Councilmember Scott Abreu, the city has seen a 71% increase in rat sightings since 2020.

"Every day, [New Yorkers] see rats in their streets, playgrounds, subways and even homes," Abreu said at the press conference. "This is not Ratatouille. Rats are not our friends."

In addition to discussing the new trash rules, the mayor expressed his personal disdain for rodents.

"Everybody that knows me, they know one thing — I hate rats," Adams said. "When we started killing them in Borough Hall, some of the same folks criticizing us now called me a murderer because I was killing rats. Well you know what? We're going to kill rats."

Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch, who spearheaded the new measure, also spoke about the plan saying, "The rats don't run the city. We do."

"The biggest swing you can take at cleaning up our streets is to shut down the all night, all-you-can-eat rat buffet," Tisch said.

The city's officials continuously emphasized how monumental the new measure is, comparing it to the more advanced trash collection procedures of other countries. Councilmember Shaun Abreu said this isn't the first time a cleanup plan like this has been discussed, but that it's the first time it has actually been agreed on by all stakeholders involved.

"We have achieved a monumental victory in humanity's war against rats," Abreu said. "After nearly a year of research, negotiations and partnership with experts, labor, the Department of Sanitation and council colleagues, we have done what former councils and administrations could never achieve."

While the new rules will apply to residential and commercial use, there are some exceptions to the new timing. People can set out their trash at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., if it's in a container with a secure lid. 

Large buildings will have the opportunity to sign up for an early morning set-out time from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m.

The city announced it will also be testing out using garbage containers instead of just trash bags, which most New Yorkers use currently.

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