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Garbage Set-Out Time Changes to 8 p.m. on Saturday

New York City

Garbage set-out times, rat population, co-op and condo boards, supers, overtime pay.
March 31, 2023

Dinnertime for New York City's burgeoning rat population is about to be cut by four hours. Starting Saturday, April 1, building owners, including co-op and condo boards, must set out garbage after 8 p.m.,  instead of 4 p.m. (one of the earliest set-out times in any major city in the country). Garbage in secure bins — a rarity in the city — can be set out after 6 p.m. All garbage and recyclables must be set out by 12:01 a.m. on collection days — except for buildings of nine units or more units that have signed up to set out their garbage between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. on collection days.

“From my perspective, this change in set out times is at least a decade overdue,” Sanitation Department Commissioner Jessica Tisch said during a City Council hearing on March 16, Gothamist reports. “We New Yorkers — businesses and residences — put out about 45 million pounds of trash and recycling every day. And it sits on our curbs on every block in every neighborhood for 14 hours a day. And that is why New York City is known as ‘Trash City.’”

Complaints to 311 about rat sightings are now 60% higher than they were before the pandemic — and they’re at an all-time high since records were first kept in 2010. 

Since this is New York City, there has already been considerable grumbling over the change. One property manager notes that the new rule will turn day jobs into night jobs for many porters and supers, which will necessitate scheduling changes and possible overtime costs. Rather than comply with the new city rules, some co-op and condo boards have switched to private garbage haulers.

"It's going to cost more, and the workers and our clients are not happy," says Estaban Vergara, who owns a company called Verson Building Services, which provides porters and handymen to 40 buildings, including a handful of co-ops and condos.

Pinny Gestetner, an executive of BSM Facility Solutions, which services 700 residential buildings in the city, says the new rules will hit his company’s bottom line. And he scoffed at the idea that a four-hour difference will make a dent in the rat population. “The problem is not that [the garbage bags are] laying on the curb,” he says. “The problem is that [the rats] are coming out at night, exactly the time that the garbage needs to be placed out now.”

Despite the grumbling, Department of Sanitation officials plan to begin cracking down on New Yorkers who flout the new rule. Violators will receive written warnings after a one-month grace period, officials said. But eventually the agency plans to start issuing fines to scofflaws: $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense and $200 for any further offenses.

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