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No more stinking black bags and rats on the streets: how New York is carrying out a garbage revolution


Lyudmila Balabay

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New York City's mayor's office is taking the next step in its "Trash Revolution," an initiative to reimagine trash collection in the metropolitan area. The main idea of ​​the project is to ensure that there are no bags of garbage on the streets of New York, which attract rats. Mayor Eric Adams discussed the initiative in a short column. Here is her text in the first person.

Our trash revolution is about bringing world-class sanitation to New Yorkers. New Yorkers will no longer have to hold their noses or dodge mountains of trash on their way home.

We're making streets cleaner by improving trash collection and curbing illegal dumping across the city.

But we're just getting started. Last week we unveiled a prototype of a new type of garbage truck that uses a “mechanical arm” to empty waste from new street containers like those seen in cities in Europe or Asia. This will allow us to collect waste faster and more accurately - and we developed this truck in a fifth of the time that experts estimate it would take to complete such a project.

On the subject: Which areas of New York have the most garbage, and which ones are cleaner than the rest

Among other things, we have begun the next phase of containerization - a full-scale pilot project in Harlem 9, which will expand from our initial pilot project, which only covered 10 blocks. This will be the first area in the city where there will be no black bags of garbage on the street waiting for the garbage truck. The number of rat sightings in the 10 neighborhoods covered by the first wave of the project fell by more than 75% compared to last year. This is real and very rapid progress.

The strategies we're testing in Harlem will help some of the city's largest and most populous neighborhoods cope with the mountains of trash bags on the streets.

Since our administration took office, we have been making history in the fight to keep our streets clean. We have strict waste collection times and provide the highest level of service to 23 bins across the city.

Photo: Shutterstock

This fall, every New Yorker in all five boroughs will have access to free weekly curbside compost collection near their homes.

We are fighting illegal dumping and strengthening law enforcement measures. In fact, in the last financial year we identified 24% more violations than the year before.

We have installed dumpsters for restaurants, delis, bodegas, bars and grocery stores. And as of March 1, 2024, all New York City businesses will be required to throw trash in containers rather than bagged it on the streets. By this fall, all buildings with between one and nine residential apartments will also be required to collect waste in containers.

Add it all up, and 70% of black trash bags will disappear from New York City streets this fall. This is the most significant progress toward clean streets that New Yorkers have seen in generations.

Nobody thought this was possible, but we are doing it. As a result, New York, which was once known for its dirty streets, will now be known for the cleanliness of its streets.

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