WAR ON RATS: NYC plans to require restaurants, other food-related businesses to put trash in bins

People make their way past trash bags in New York
People make their way past trash bags in New York. Photo credit Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) -- New York City will require restaurants and other businesses with a lot of food waste to set out their trash bags in bins, instead of directly on the curb, under a rule proposed Thursday that could take effect as soon as this summer.

Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch told WCBS 880's Newsline with Brigitte Quinn that this is the city's latest step in the war against rats.

"We want businesses that produce a substantial amount of food waste to put their trash and compostable material in bins instead of black bags on the streets of our city," Tisch said.

The containers would replace the mountains of stinky, leaky garbage bags that are a familiar sight to New Yorkers. "We know the bins are tougher to get into than plastic bags," the commissioner said.

The rule would encompass all restaurants but also include "businesses that produce a large amount of food waste," including delis, bodegas, hotels and grocery stores, according to Tisch.

The rule could go into effect as soon as this July, impacting upwards of 40,000 food-related businesses, or about 20% of businesses in the city.

The Sanitation Department will hold a June 22 public hearing on the proposal.

Violators would be fined $50 for a first offense, but there will likely be a warning period before fines are levied, Tisch said.

There will also be flexibility on where businesses can store bins. They can keep them indoors, in places like trash rooms and chutes, or outdoors, including right up against their property line.

"This is absolutely necessary to modernize the greatest city in the world," Tisch said of the plan.

But there's already pushback from the NYC Hospitality Alliance, whose executive director, Andrew Rigie, said smaller restaurants don't have the space for the bins.

"They're not going to be able to store big, dirty trash cans inside their small businesses," Rigie said. "And as a result, you're going to have thousands, if not tens of thousands, of garbage cans all over the sidewalk."

"You're going to have garbage cans sitting in front of the windows and right next to the entrances of these restaurants," he said. "It's not an attractive look."

Tisch insists there are plenty of options for storage. She said New York will actually be "one of the last" cities to implement bin mandates on businesses.

"Cities around the country and around the world have been doing this for decades," she said. "If they can, we can too."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress