New garbage rules have shopkeepers frustrated

I first heard from Sharon Hershkowitz at Balloon Saloon — she is trying to figure out how a shop that closes at 5p is supposed to put its garbage out after 8p, as per the new city rules. From the Department of Sanitation: “All business that set their trash and recycling at the curb are required to follow the new set-out times – after 8pm if using bags or one hour before closing if using a sealed container.”

None of the options she’s considered fully make sense:

  • Pay someone an extra three hours to sit there and wait?
  • Buy garbage cans that get wheeled out at 5, but then are left on the street all night long?
  • And where are the cans supposed to go once business opens?

“Not sure what to do,” said Karen Barwick at Boomerang Toys. “I would love to hear suggestions. We are contemplating buying a closed container. However, we cannot bring a dirty container back into the store, and not only will they be dirty with NYC muck and dog urine, I also believe they will get stolen.”

So…where do the cans go during the day, when the shops are open? And what’s to stop someone from stealing them if they are out for nearly 16 hours, until the shop opens in the morning? And as a neighbor, do *we* want all these empty containers rattling around on the sidewalks for hours?

Sushi of Gari built a stainless steel shed for its cans last year; does every business get to build one of these on the sidewalk? (Sanitation said that fixed storage such as the bins in the photo require Department of Transportation revocable consent.)

Until now, shopkeepers put their plastic bags on the street and private haulers picked them up sometime in the middle of the night. The city, trying to curb the rat population, is trying to limit the hours those bags sit there or add the containers, which in theory are rat proof.

Madeline Lanciani at Duane Park Patisserie has been using the wheeled cans for a year, but since her neighbors (commercial and residential) still use garbage bags, she still has rats rooting in my garden. “So I don’t have a lot of hope that the 8pm time will do anything at all to mitigate the problem.”

“I am about to give up chasing the critters,” she added, “unless I can train a hawk.”

Here are the rules from the Department of Sanitation:

Businesses may use any container with a secure-fitting lid, and the container must be removed from the curb by the time the business reopens. There is no cap on how many a business can have.

And more from Sanitation: “We understand this is a significant change for some business owners, but we also know that piles of black bags have taken our public sidewalk space for more than 50 years. Mountains of trash bags on our streets at rush hour are an inconvenience for commuters, a detriment to our business and an eyesore for all.”



  1. It is important to check with DOS on the days and times of your garbage pickup. For our building, we were able to have staff adjust their hours to come in a bit earlier to put trash out before pick-up instead of extending their hours significantly to do so after 8:00 pm. Not sure this will help Sharon and others…

  2. This regulation may be burdensome to businesses and residents in NYC but we will all be grateful to the City Council when the large subset of the rat population that only eats between 6pm and 8pm dies off.

  3. The bins outside Sushi of Gari actually look quite nice. If there was a common standard similar to that one, I wouldn’t mind seeing it more widely adopted.

    But as for the rationale of reducing the rat population, who are we kidding? The rats used to eating at 6pm will just give up in frustration and move to the burbs? Unless the city is real about mandating that all trash be placed in locked bins, this time shift does nothing on that front. There may still be some real value for rush hour commuters, but let’s not pretend this will have any noticeable affect on rat populations.

  4. How do other cities deal with this? I’ve never seen such a trash problem in any city in the USA or in other countries where I have visited.

    Is it that all those other cities have back alleys?

    As for using movable trash cans with lids, I believe that’s how NYC used to do it years ago. So maybe it’s time to go back to requiring that.

    See here:

    “It wasn’t until the late 1960s that the practice of leaving garbage bags on the sidewalks to be picked up was instituted in the city.

    “Sanitation strikes, coupled with complaints about the noise of the metal bins and the ample supply of plastic bags, changed our street landscape to the way it is still today.”

    • Yes, most other large cities were designed with alleys in mind so trash on the sidewalks wouldn’t be a thing. Granted, NYC is much older and more dense than most of those cities, but trash has been an issue in Manhattan since the Dutch occupied the island and hasn’t really improved much since then.

      It’s worth noting that you don’t have to go far to find an interesting solution to this issue. Battery Park City does not have trash bags on many of its streets. There are multiple compactors where building tenants transport trash to during the day, and it keeps bags off the streets:

  5. The word’s out:
    Early bird specials are canceled!
    Dinners begin at 8PM