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Exclusive: New York City to expand trash and rat mitigation pilot program

NYC program aimed at reducing trash, rats will be expanded
NYC program aimed at reducing trash, rats will be expanded 02:16

NEW YORK -- The city's pilot program to reduce trash and rats is working so well, it is expanding.

If you live in Hamilton Heights, you may have noticed a change in your garbage disposal system in the last few months. Shared bins replaced the piles of black bags on the street. The city says it has led to a major decrease in rat sightings. However, some residents say it's also creating a decrease in parking.

Since the fall, the city has been testing the new garbage bins, part of a program in a 10-block zone, from 143rd to 153rd streets between Broadway and Amsterdam.

Instead of leaving those black bags on the street, residential trash goes in the shared bins. Garbage pickup in the pilot area was also increased to six days a week.

The city has said its goal is to clean up the streets and decrease the rats.

"Actually, I think I have noticed that. Less rats, definitely. That's a really good thing, wow," a woman named Amber said.

"I do notice there are less rats," said Roger Maloney of West Harlem.

Maloney lives in that 10-block zone and says, "Years past, there was a lot of litter."

"So, I don't know if there is just less rats because it got cold outside? I'm interested to see what it's like in the spring," another person added.

However, the Department of Sanitation says the results are clear.

"Not only does the neighborhood look cleaner, meaning it's not littered with trash bags every night, but we have seen rat sightings on those 10 blocks go down at 68%, compared to the prior year," Commissioner Jessica Tisch said.

So how did DSNY collect that data? The city says it's based on 311 calls, which also reports rat sightings are down 16% in other rat mitigation zones an down 6% across the city.

"Our city closed down the all-you-can-eat rat buffet," Mayor Eric Adams said.

Due to the program's success, it is being expanded to the rest of West Harlem, which means the city must purchase more containers.

"We will go through the procurement process. We're going to make sure that we select an appropriate bin for New York City. And there are a lot of different types and models, so we want to make sure we get this right," Tisch said.

Drivers, though, said the city is getting one thing wrong.

"They need to look for a more convenient area to place it in because it is taking up parking and it is taking up space," one said.

"The other way is better because that takes a lot of parking space, and then there's no parking space in the city," another said.

DSNY said the shared bins only take up 1% of parking spaces, however CBS New York's Natalie Duddridge found an example of the problem -- a double-parked truck causing congestion.

"I think you should be willing to give up one or two spaces for more cleanliness," Amber said.

The residential pilot program is part of a larger, ongoing citywide program. Starting March 1, all businesses must put trash in the bins, not leave it on the street, or they could be fined.

Officials say commercial trash accounts for about half of the 44 million pounds of garbage New York City produces each day.

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