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NYC Rat Sightings Continue Historic Decline

New data proves containerization of city trash is working, the City said.
Rat sightings reported to 311 have declined for another month, according to a report from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

Rat sightings reported to 311 have declined for another month according to a report from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY). 

Rat sightings have fallen in 12 of the last 13 months compared to the year prior, according to a news release. 

Rat sightings are down nearly 14% in the City’s Rat Mitigation Zones year over year, and have fallen by an incredible 55% in the Hamilton Heights residential containerization pilot zone since the pilot began.

This historic decline in rat sightings coincides with a tidal wave of change to the management of 44 million pounds of trash per day in New York City, the City said.

In October 2022, the Adams administration changed set-out times for both residential and commercial waste from 4:00pm to 8:00pm in April 2023, while also allowing earlier set-out if the material is in a container. This incentivization of containerization was paired with major changes to DSNY operations, picking up well over a quarter of all trash at midnight rather than 6:00am, particularly in high density parts of the city, and ending a practice by which up to one fifth of trash had been purposefully left out for a full day. 

Later that month, DSNY published its “Future of Trash” report, the first meaningful attempt to study containerization models in New York City, and the playbook to get it done. 

Last August, containerization requirements went into effect for all food-related businesses in New York City. These businesses — restaurants, delis, bodegas, bars, grocery stores, caterers, etc. — produce an outsized amount of the type of trash that attracts rats. That same month, installation of the initial 10-block, 14-school Manhattan Community Board 9 pilot containers began.

Starting March 1, 2024, container requirements went into effect for all businesses — of every type — in New York City to get their trash off the streets and into a secure bin. Later this fall, when container requirements go into effect for low-density residential buildings — those with one to nine units — approximately 70% of all trash in the city will be containerized.