On February 1, 2024, Mayor Eric Adams and Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch announced a twofold plan to move forward with the commitment made by Mayor Adams to store all street trash in pickup containers. The plan includes the introduction of automated, side-loading garbage trucks and a data-driven containerization strategy set to begin to take place in Manhattan Community Board 9 (Morningside Heights, Manhattanville, Hamilton Heights) this year. The pilot aims to containerize one hundred percent of the trash in Manhattan Community Board 9 within the year and to eventually expand these changes citywide.
The new, automated, side-loading garbage trucks are a product of the findings of DSNY’s 2023 “Future of Trash” report which established the need for more advanced ways to collect garbage. In under one year, the truck’s prototype was developed in Torino, Italy and Hicksville and Brooklyn, New York. The prototype will undergo testing and training as part of its integration into the trash collection system in Manhattan Community Board 9, which includes many high-density residential buildings.
In addition to the new garbage trucks, there will be a strategy to determine what type and size container will be used for individual buildings. Buildings with 31 or more residential units will be mandated to use stationary, street-side containers that will be solely for their building’s residents and collected by the new garbage trucks. Buildings with 10 to 30 units will have the opportunity to choose between the aforementioned containers or smaller wheelie bins. Buildings with one to nine residential units must use the wheelie bins. These bins will become available in the fall and will be mandatory in the summer of 2026.
The installation of the trash containerization program and new garbage trucks will begin in spring of 2025. After one year of implementation, the City hopes to have Manhattan Community Board 9 completely serviced through the new trash containerization system. The pilot program, which is taking place in ten residential blocks and at fourteen schools, had rat sighting complaints drop by 68 percent. The results from this pilot district will lay the foundation of the expansion of the program into the remainder of the City.
Mayor Adams said, “The data is clear: Under our administration, New York City’s streets are cleaner. And as of this fall, thanks to the bold steps we have taken, a full 70 percent of New York City’s black bags will be off our streets and put into containers — but we’re not stopping there. The new garbage truck we’re unveiling today — four years ahead of schedule — represents the future of New York City garbage collection. It means we’ll be able to containerize trash from our large residential buildings, something people didn’t believe would be possible in our dense city. And thanks to that truck and our commitment to turning our streets from mean to clean, residents of Manhattan’s Community Board 9 will be the first in the city to experience our streets free of every single black bag.”
Sanitation Commissioner Tisch said, “New Yorkers have been clear: they’ve had enough of the black bags occupying our sidewalks, enough of the oozing garbage juice, and enough of being told that other global cities can have something that we can’t. This administration rejects the cynicism that says things can’t change, and the speed at which we’ve moved to change the relationship between 8.3 million New Yorkers and 44 million daily pounds of trash cannot be overstated.”
Councilmember Shaun Abreu, chair, Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management said, “All New Yorkers have a rat story. From what feels like time immemorial, these rodents have burrowed in our apartment walls, ruined evening walks, and found harbor in our sewer system. But where they really thrive is where there is an abundance of trash—and in New York, where we toss plastic trash bags on street corners, this is practically everywhere. The only way to win the war on rats is to modernize the way we dispose, contain, and process our waste, and that is exactly what we are doing today. In West Harlem, where residents have experienced the worst rat infestations in the entire city for decades, trash management has never been equal. I know it because I see and hear it from my constituents every day. By expanding our containerization pilot program, we are finally putting West Harlem at the decision table when it comes to their right to live in rodent-free neighborhoods. We are not only closing the lid on our garbage, we are closing the door on a period of neglect. The movement for clean streets is here—and I couldn’t be prouder that West Harlem and Morningside Heights are leading from out front.”
By: Meg Beauregard (Meg is the CityLaw intern, and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024).
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation: “Mayor Adam Unveils New Anti-Trash Technology, Launches Next Phase of City’s War On Trash” (Feb. 1, 2024).