Guest Opinion: Getting Every Single Trash Bag Off Our Streets

Feb. 1, 2024: NYC Mayor Eric Adams (at podium) launches the next phase of NYC's war on trash. | Photo via nyc.orgBY NYC MAYOR ERIC ADAMS | New Yorkers deserve clean streets, free of smelly trash bags and rats. That’s why we are taking the next leap forward in the Trash Revolution—our initiative to reimagine trash collection and remove every single trash bag from New York City’s streets.

When we came into office two years ago, we had a mission: Protect public safety, revitalize the economy, and make this city more livable for hardworking New Yorkers.

Our Trash Revolution is a key part of this mission, giving New Yorkers the world-class sanitation services they deserve. New Yorkers shouldn’t have to hold their noses or dodge trash mountains as they walk home.

Our administration is rejecting that status quo, and is delivering for everyday New Yorkers. We are making our streets cleaner by picking up trash more efficiently and cracking down on illegal dumping across the city.

But we are just getting started. Last week, we unveiled the prototype of a new kind of garbage truck that uses a mechanical arm to empty trash from new, on-street containers, like those you might see in European or Asian cities. This will allow us to pick up New Yorkers’ trash quicker, cleaner, and smarter and we developed this truck in a fifth of the time experts said it would take.

We also announced the next stage of containerization: a full-scale pilot in Harlem’s Community Board 9, expanding from our initial 10-block pilot. This will be the first neighborhood in the city with zero black bags sitting on the street waiting for pickup. Rat sightings in those 10 blocks fell by more than two-thirds year-over-year. That represents real progress, real fast.

The strategies we are testing in Harlem will make a huge difference in some of our biggest and densest neighborhoods, helping us tackle mountains of black bags at the source.

Since our administration came into office, we have been making history in the fight for cleaner streets. We established later set out times for trash, and we are providing the highest level of street litter basket service ever for 23,000 baskets across our city.

By this fall, every single New Yorker in all five boroughs will have access to free, pain-free weekly curbside compost collection.

We are cracking down on illegal dumping and stepping up enforcement efforts. In fact, over the past fiscal year, we issued 24 percent more violations than the year prior.

We have containerized trash for restaurants, delis, bodegas, bars, and grocery stores. And, as of March 1, 2024, all businesses in New York City will have to put out their trash in containers. By this fall, all buildings with one to nine residential units will need to containerize their trash as well.

Here in America, New York City is leading the way, as we use proven solutions that have been adopted in cities all over the world. Add it all up, and we will already have 70 percent of New York City’s black bags off our streets by this fall. This is the most significant progress toward clean streets that New Yorkers have seen in generations.

No one thought this would be possible, but we are getting it done. As a result, New York City, which used to be known for its mean streets, will now be known for our clean streets.

Rats are moving on and moving out. And our city is becoming more livable than ever for everyday New Yorkers.

To visit the Office of the Mayor of New York City online, click here.


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