New York City Fights Rat Infestation, Asks Residents to Take Out Their Trash Later

New York City has become an “all you can eat” for rats, so city officials are taking steps to limit the number of hours residential and commercial trash can sit at the curb before being picked up.

Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch, joined by Mayor Eric Adams at a news conference this week, made the announcement that she says “rats are going to absolutely hate,” changing the length of time trash bags can be stacked in the sidewalk, from 4 to 8 p.m. Residents can take out their garbage at 6 p.m. if the bags are placed in sealed containers, under the new rules. Trash must continue to be deposited curbside before midnight.

“Rats don’t run this town,” the commissioner said. “We do it.”

But urban environmentalist Michael Parsons is skeptical of the city’s latest move to combat mounting complaints about trash heaps and rat sightings on New York’s sidewalks.

“A lot of rodent scholars have mixed feelings about this,” Parsons said of the plan. “On the one hand, we’re glad something is being done. On the other hand, we’ve argued that it’s much better to work on the problem proactively rather than some kind of reflex reaction.”

Rodent activity in urban areas increased during the pandemic due to restaurant closures or partial openings, as rats sought food sources other than restaurant containers.

“We knew that because of all the new food resources that the rats had because of all the new people working at home, cooking at home and creating more waste at home, there was potential for a wide population expansion.” and that it even increased … and it’s happening,” Parsons said.