The rats don’t run this city—garbage rules do.
New York City Mayor (and crypto enthusiast) Eric Adams proposed a new rule this week for the city’s composting program. It would require residents to set aside yard-related waste like leaves, branches, and grass aside for composting. The plan aims to get more garbage that would attract rodents off the streets.
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“This material, the most putrescible portion of New York City’s curbside waste stream, attracts rats and other vermin,” the announcement from the Department of Sanitation said. “Diverting organic waste from the refuse stream can fight rats, divert waste from landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create beneficial products.”
The proposal is set to go into effect first in Queens first, according to the announcement. Brooklyn will be expected to start this October, and Staten Island and Bronx residents will have to set aside their yard waste by March 2024. And Manhattan residents won’t have to comply until next October.
This proposal comes just a few months after a voluntary curbside composting pilot program launched in Queens, Gothamist reported. The rollout was fairly successful, as the city collected more than 12 million pounds of organic waste in just three months, according to the sanitation department. Curbside composting will be expanding alongside the rollout for yard waste. There will be a public hearing on the proposed rule in late April.
A video uploaded to Twitter from the sanitation department showed a compost bin mascot dancing its way around the borough. “Less trash on the curb. Less food for rats,” the tweet read.
Mayor Adams’ crusade against rats has been one of the best things to come out of his tenure as a city official. Just a few months ago, he announced that the city was looking to hire a “rat czar” who would be paid up to $170,000. Candidates would need to be “somewhat bloodthirsty,” per the listing.
Unfortunately, the Mayor’s other pet interests have been less amusing. Besides bashing remote work, labeling folks “low-skilled workers,” and questioning if city residents need windows in their bedrooms, he’s also proposed major funding cuts to libraries.
The city had a previous composting program that was cut during pandemic budget reductions. Rat sightings began to rise due to less foot traffic during early lockdowns and due to the rodents’ usual food sources being disrupted, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to data from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, city inspectors saw rodent activity throughout the city double from 2021 to 2022. And there’s the anecdotal evidence from New Yorkers who keep bumping into what feels like legions of large rodents as they go about their day.
Other new trash rules are also aimed at reducing rats: Starting in April, people won’t be allowed to put garbage bags outside before 8 p.m. A flyer announcing the new rule shows a gray rat holding on to a small suitcase, alongside the words “send rats packing!”
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