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Rat attack: NYC will require small apartment buildings to put trash in containers instead of bags next year
  • Residential buildings with nine or fewer units will have to put trash in containers come fall 2024
  • Buildings can use their own bins initially, but will have to purchase city receptacles by summer 2026
Celia Young Headshot
By Celia Young
October 13, 2023 - 1:30PM
Black Garbage Bags sit on a Residential Street in Greenwich Village of New York City.

Say goodbye to bags and hello to bins.


The rats are absolutely going to hate this announcement. But how will New York City’s building staff feel? 

Buildings with nine or fewer residential units will have to put trash out in containers, rather than in bags, by fall next year, Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday. The move comes as the city overhauls its garbage collection policies to curb Gotham’s rat population, but it could add an extra burden for building staff.

Residents or supers can place trash in their own containers, but will be required to buy official NYC bins by summer 2026. The bins will cost around $45 for a 20 gallon container up to $80 for a 65 gallon receptacle, and will be available for purchase by fall 2024, though the city has yet to select a vendor to make the bins, Streetsblog reported.

The new rule will impact 765,000 small residential buildings in NYC, according to the announcement. Coupled with Gotham’s commercial trash requirements, the city predicts the regulation will put 70 percent of NYC’s trash in containers.  

“Less than one year ago, we stood in front of City Hall and declared war on the rats, war on the bags, and war on the idea that other cities could get their trash off the streets, but New York couldn’t,” Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch says in a statement. “We’re closer than ever to showing the doubters, the rat-sympathizers, and the trash-lovers just how wrong they were.”

The regulation will not impact recycling, according to the announcement. 

New rules

The rule is one of a handful of changes DSNY has implemented in the last two years. The agency moved the earliest time trash bags could be placed on the curb from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in April. (If residents have trash bins, they can put out full containers as early as 6 p.m.). 

That’s not the only change adding more work for building management: NYC has also newly expanded its compost collection program, which will become mandatory in the spring of 2025. After rolling out in Queens in 2022 and more broadly in Brooklyn this month, the city plans to bring the voluntary pick-up program to the Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan next year.

The Adams administration says the changes have helped reduce rat 311 complaints citywide, but some property managers have raised concerns about the extra work building staff will have to take on.

Extra labor

For example, requiring staff to put trash out after 8 p.m., instead of 4 p.m., means that workers have to stay at buildings much later, says Peter von Simson, the CEO of New Bedford Management.

“I think we can all agree something needs to be done to try and control the rat population,” von Simson says. “That being said, it is also clear that working after 8 p.m. or early in the morning can detract from staff spending time with their family.”

Von Simson expects the container rule to impact only 10 of the 140 buildings his firm manages, but was concerned that staff members would have to spend more time cleaning the bins after DSNY picks up the trash. 

“[The Department of Sanitation] adding a new requirement, that garbage be put out in cans with lids makes sense to keep the streets looking neat and prevent rats from accessing the garbage,” von Simson says. “[But] the more time required by cleaning up the cans/lids after the [Sanitation] does their pickup will result in even more after-hours work.”