New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Sanitation Department (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch, and Director of Citywide Rodent Mitigation Kathleen Corradi released new data today showing a 20 percent decrease in 311 calls about rat activity across the city over the last 2 months, as compared to last year.
The significant drop took place from May to mid-July, in the period since the city fully implemented new set-out times and a corresponding collection schedule that minimizes the time trash sits on the curb and increases the use of containers citywide.
The Bronx saw a decrease in rat sighting calls by 37% from May to mid-July.
“New Yorkers may not know this about me — but I hate rats,” said Mayor Adams. “It is still early, but these numbers show what we are doing is working and that we are moving in the right direction. Every food scrap that we keep out of the trash and every black bag that we keep off the street is a meal that we are taking out of a hungry rodent’s stomach. It takes all of us to win the war on rats, so I encourage New Yorkers to keep composting, keep putting your trash in containers, and I hope to see you out there at one of our ‘Anti-Rat Community Days of Action.’”
“We put New York City’s rats on a historically aggressive fasting diet, founded on reducing the amount of time trash sits on our city streets, getting food out of our waste stream, and ultimately getting all trash into containers,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Thanks to the hard and collaborative work of many city agencies and determined public servants, it is working!”
“The progress outlined today shows that when we work to implement thoughtful strategies as part of a multi-agency approach, we can deliver on quality-of-life issues for New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Thank you to everyone who is doing their individual part managing trash and compost material, and to our citywide partners across agencies for working together to tackle such a challenging issue facing all New Yorkers.”
“Rats eat what humans throw away, and whenever our trash sits on the sidewalk, the rats will line up for their dinner,” said DSNY Commissioner Tisch. “Mayor Adams has empowered the Sanitation Department to demolish the status quo of black bags, to shut down the rat buffet, and to ‘Get Stuff Clean’ for all New Yorkers. These numbers show that these initiatives — from containerization to a modernized collection schedule to curbside composting — are getting results. We are proving the haters wrong: you can clean up New York, and you can beat the rats.”
“There is a saying in the anti-rodent world: ‘If you feed them, you breed them,’” said Director of Citywide Rodent Mitigation Corradi. “The frontline of our war on rats is at the all-you-can-eat buffet of black trash bags, and thanks to hard work across this administration, we’re cutting that buffet off.”
Today, Mayor Adams also announced that the administration will co-host the first Anti-Rat Community Day of Action in the Harlem Rat Mitigation Zone, in partnership with the BUFNY II/Harlem Street Tenants Association. Taking place on August 12, 2023, the Day of Action will bring together city and community partners to share best practices and take action on street tree care, waste/litter management, and rodent mitigation. Highlighting existing programs, including New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Stewardship, the DSNY Community Cleanup Tool Loan Program, and DOHMH Rat Academy Trainings, the Anti-Rat Community Day of Action will equip participants with the knowledge and resources they need to keep their community rat-free. In the coming months, the administration will also co-host additional days of action in each borough.
The Adams administration has focused its anti-rat efforts on depriving rodents of food and shelter, and at the heart of that is managing trash — both keeping food waste out of black bags and getting black bags off streets and into containers.
The administration has also drastically reduced the number of hours trash and recycling will sit on New York City sidewalks by adjusting the time of day trash may be placed on the curb. Previously, trash and recycling could be placed on the curb after 04:00 p.m. the night before collection — the earliest of any major city in the nation — meaning that in many neighborhoods these items sat out for more than 14 hours, including during the evening pedestrian rush hour. Worse, approximately 15% of trash was scheduled to sit on the curb for up to 32 hours, a practice which has been completely abolished. Under the new rules, residential buildings can set trash out after 08:00 p.m., or 06:00 p.m. in a secure container. DSNY has also moved nearly 30% of collection to the midnight rather than daytime shift, focusing on the highest density areas, and has moved its largest shift an hour earlier, beginning at 05:00 a.m. rather than 06:00 a.m. These new rules have decreased the amount of time trash is left on the curb, diminishing the eyesore of black bags, reducing trash for rats, and improving cleanliness — ultimately boosting the city’s recovery.
This spring, DSNY published an approximately 100-page report — “The Future of Trash” — providing the first-ever detailed, block-by-block analysis of what it would take to get black bags of trash off the sidewalks once and for all.
The administration is already moving forward on the recommendation of that report. This summer, the Adams administration published a final rule mandating that all food-related businesses put their trash in secure containers and released a new proposal that all chain businesses with five or more locations do the same. Once both rules are implemented, they will cover 25% of businesses across the five boroughs and require approximately 4 million pounds of waste produced each day to be placed in secure containers — making New York City’s streets cleaner and more welcoming to all.
“The new measures taken by Mayor Adams and his administration are making a difference in our neighborhoods,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “As we continue to identify thoughtful solutions, I look forward to communities like mine benefitting from actions similar to those in rat mitigation zones. The health and safety of my community are a priority, and I hope to work with the rodent mitigation team to keep our streets clean.”