Neighborhood Intel

What to know about NYC’s new rules for putting out your trash, recycling, and organic waste

  • If you live in Brooklyn and Queens, separating food waste is already mandatory
  • Sanitation pushed back trash pickup times, but large buildings can get a morning slot
Celia Young Headshot
By Celia Young  |
December 13, 2023 - 2:30PM
A row of old metal garbage cans outside an urban neighborhood home along a sidewalk in Astoria Queens New York

The city is trying to eliminate garbage bags in favor of bins.


It’s time for some trash talk: New York City implemented sweeping changes this year for garbage collection and as a result many New Yorkers are adjusting to putting out garbage later, switching from bags to bins, and composting food scraps ahead of mandatory compost collection in 2025.

The changes are part of the Department of Sanitation’s efforts to send the city’s “rats packing” and clean up Gotham’s streets, says Joshua Goodman, deputy commissioner for public affairs and customer experience at DSNY. 

“New Yorkers have been taught for many, many years [when] trash is all over the place, that's just the way it is,” Goodman says. “It does not have to be that way. That’s what we've really shown over the year and a half, is that these are actually solvable problems if you have the will to go through with making changes.”

And those changes have come with a lot of attention.

DSNY has shamed businesses on the social media site X (formerly Twitter) for failing to put trash in containers. Catchphrases like, “the rats are absolutely going to hate this announcement” and “the rats don’t run this city, we do,” from a DSNY press conference went viral on TikTok and Instagram, prompting the city to launch a custom t-shirt with the latter phrase last year.

But for New Yorkers, the city’s war on the rats means more than just the (excellent) jokes that have emerged as a result. Residents and building managers have plenty of new rules to pay attention to, particularly as the city approaches the holiday season.

“We're asking New Yorkers to make changes,” Goodman says. “But it's in pursuit of something that we all expect and deserve: clean streets.”

Read on for what to know about trash, recycling, and organics collection.

Putting bags out later

In April, DSNY moved the earliest time trash bags can be placed on the curb from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Residents that have trash bins can put out their containers as early as 6 p.m.

Large buildings with nine or more residential units, however, can put trash out between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. if building management decides to participate in an optional program for early pickup. So far, 2,500 buildings have elected to participate, though interested property owners need to notify DSNY that they would like to join the program in January so they can be placed on an early garbage route, Goodman says.

When it comes to recycling, metal, glass, and plastic don’t need to be placed in bins but should be put outside at the same time as your trash, Goodman says.

The city also expanded its compost collection program to all of Queens in 2022 and Brooklyn this year, where it distributed 45,000 and 57,000 compost bins in each borough respectively, Goodman says. Free bins are no longer available, but residents can use their own bin and label it with a free decal from DSNY. 

If you do live in Brooklyn and Queens, composting is mandatory, Goodman says. But DSNY doesn’t have the ability to issue fines until March 2025, so the department has only sent out warnings for buildings that failed to separate their food scraps.

Changes on the horizon

Next fall, residents who live in one- to nine-unit buildings will be required to put their trash in containers. Buildings will be able to purchase city bins or use their own, though properties will be required to use NYC’s containers two years after the mandate goes into effect, in summer 2026.

Those bins are not yet available for purchase, but the city sent out a call for a vendor to manufacture the receptacles in October and plans to cap the price at $50 for the most common size. Those bins will be available for purchase in fall 2024.

For larger residential buildings, DSNY is experimenting with using containers that permanently sit out on the street in sections of Hamilton Heights in Manhattan. The department installed shared bins between 142nd and 153rd streets and Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, in September to test out the practice, though the program hasn’t yet grown past its pilot phase.

As for food waste, NYC plans to expand its compost collection program to the entire city in October of 2024 by adding Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. The department is still debating whether it will distribute free bins to the three boroughs or use another model to get residential buildings receptacles, Goodman says. 

There will be no changes to the 400 community compost collection bins in the city, Goodman says. Those receptacles let residents recycle food waste—including meat and dairy—through an app. However, thanks to budget cuts, NYC funding for compost collection sites at the city’s greenmarkets will end this year, Gothamist reported.

Celia Young Headshot

Celia Young

Senior Writer

Celia Young is a senior writer at Brick Underground where she covers New York City residential real estate. She graduated from Brandeis University and previously covered local business at the Milwaukee Business Journal, entertainment at Madison Magazine, and commercial real estate at Commercial Observer. She currently resides in Brooklyn.

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