New York City Announces Actions to Address Another Giant Crisis: Garbage Collection and Street Cleaning

The city of New York with its million residential and commercial buildings, 4,500 skyscrapers, more than 25,000 restaurants and an intense commercial life, is also the city that more garbage produced worldwide. Now, in this era of post-pandemic recovery and a new Municipal Administration, it is proposed to eliminate in the medium term, as much as possible, that unconcealable side of mountains of garbage in every corner, which also “open the door” to the undesirable plague of rats.

For this titanic task, the new commissioner of the Department of Sanitation of the City of New York (DSNY), Jessica Tisch announces that great innovations are coming to “build a system of recycling, collection and cleaning, join the vision of a safer and more dignified city for its residents and visitors.”

The COVID-19 pandemic not only fueled criminal violence and the humanitarian crisis of the homeless, but also made the accumulation of solid waste in the streets more noticeable for many weeks before operational problems caused by “lows” in the workforce of this department.

For now, the agency that processes each day an average of 12,000 tons of residential waste per day and commercial, recommended that residents leave their waste on the sidewalks as stipulated by their regular schedules.

Jessica Tisch is the new Sanitation Commissioner for New York City. (Photo: F. Martínez)

Attention vehicle owners!

But from july 5in this new dynamic, the first to perceive changes in their routine will be the owners of vehicles that are parked on the streets.

Thousands of drivers accustomed to “storing” their cars on the streets, again they should be moved twice a week, to make way for the sweeping machinery in the areas close to the sidewalks. This announcement ends a nearly two-year reduction in cleanup that city officials say will has left blocks flooded with debris.

Alternative parking regulations will be restored at their respective timesafter they had been reduced to once a week.

“This return to cleaning policies I know will make many uncomfortable. But we must be realistic, we need the machines resume their frequency and keep our streets clean”, Tisch reiterated in his first meeting with the ethnic media of New York City.

In this regard, DSNY added 10 Micromobility Operations Machines (MOMs), previously used to clear snow from bike lanes, and They can be equipped with brooms for regular sweeping.

A historic debate persists on Roosevelt Avenue: Street vendors fight back and claim to abide by the rules. (Photo: F. Martínez)

Complicated case: Roosevelt Avenue

Since taking office two weeks ago, the new commissioner, who took on the task of keeping the Big Apple cleaner, assures that she has been “in the head” at the different transfer stations to optimize each collection cycle in a city where are processed 14 million tons of garbage every year.

In that complicated map of truck routes, recycling and collection, even before the pandemic, already residents of communities like Jackson Heights and Corona, in Queens, especially those that border the Roosevelt Avenuenext to the columns of train 7, have denounced that the accumulations of debris and vermin are still “unbearable”.

“For many reasons, it is sad to acknowledge that this is perhaps the dirtiest avenue in all of New York,” says the Colombian Ana Maria Trujillowith 25 years living in that New York town.

In this residential and entrepreneurial epicenter formal and informal businesses of thousands of Hispanic families, almost always the accusing finger is directed towards the street vendors.

In this sense, a couple of fruit and vegetable vendors from Puebla, in the 80th street of the ‘Rooselvelt’who preferred to keep their names confidential, told The newspaper that they are the first interested in setting tougher rules against the accumulation of garbage.

“Unfortunately everything negative that happens here is attributed to us street vendors. Every night we take the garbage and the boxes in a truck. And we keep everything in the regulatory sites. People from nearby houses put garbage in the corner bins, which is prohibited and the merchants do not necessarily comply with their schedules”, express the merchants.

“Blame it all”

For years, in these towns of this troubled avenue, especially between 74th and 108th streets, there is a dispute: the formal merchants accuse the street vendors of dirtying the facade of their businesses, while the residents accuse that in general the trade generates a lot of waste that they attract some “visitors” that nobody wants: the rats.

At the center of this discussion, a resident of 95th Street and Roosevelt Avenuethe Ecuadorian Carolina Pazmiño, with fifteen years in that place, assures that “it is everyone’s fault”.

“I have seen many residents of houses and apartments who take out their waste and cover the garbage cans in the corners. I’ve also seen vendors clean up before they leave and business owners who don’t give a damn. Rats aren’t just in the Subway. They come to our houses too,” described the immigrant.

Faced with a debate of many years, the new sanitation commissioner assures that she will set her sights on these towns of high flow and concentration of garbage.

“We will have to do a joint task of education and inspection to more rigorously enforce the rules. In this specific case of Jackson Heights, we must address it with the Consumer and Worker Protection Agency that provides and oversees the permits to street vendors. It is an issue that we must address comprehensively.”Tisch stressed.

Hot days are coming… and more smells

As in other neighborhoods in New York City, the multiplication and proliferation of rats, during the harshest months of the public health crisis, was one of the many collateral damages caused by sanitation bottlenecks in the city.

Based on figures shared by the The New York Times, Between January and November 2021, more than 21,000 sightings of these rodents to 311in comparison with 15,000 in the same period of 2019.

“The rate of initial health inspections to discover signs of active rats almost doubled in the last fiscal year,” said this newspaper.

Now with the hot days to come, where by definition garbage odors stink much more, rodents feel more comfortable outside and the The city tries to return to full engine to its commercial, business and tourist activitiesthe new Municipal Administration intends to clear as far as possible from the view of passers-by, the immense bags of waste. Not an easy task.

New containers could replace the mountains of garbage on every street in the Big Apple. (Photo: F. Martínez)

The idea of ​​the new containers

The debutant Commissioner of Sanitation of the Big Apple, told local and community media that they will closely follow the experience of European cities like Barcelonawhere there are successful models of garbage collection through a container system.

“Other cities around the world have done it. It is not a problem without a solution. For example, in Barcelona, ​​there they put the rubbish in containers and all of its residents benefit from that,” he stressed.

Last April, very close to the colorful Times Square, the City installed in the 41st Street and Seventh Avenue and 43rd Street and Eighth Avenuethe first two curbside bag collection bins, as part of a pilot program that will expand to every corner of the Big Apple.

The objective is to put the garbage bags, in a centralized storage place, to prevent them from being thrown in the streets and keep them away from rats that try to make their way in search of food, but it is still not clear how, when and where This initiative will be multiplied.

Special containers like these will begin to be installed in the five counties of the Big Apple. (Photo: Michael Appleton – Mayoral Office).

Who is the new NYC Sanitation Commissioner?

  • Jessica Tisch has served the City of New York for the past 15 years from various positions in City government.
  • As Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology at the New York City Police Department (NYPD), Tisch led the department into the 21st century, modernizing systems to strengthen public safety and improve communications.
  • She served as commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT)where he launched the modernization of the city’s information technology infrastructure and managed critical COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
  • She was a core member of the team that managed NYC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating and managing critical programs for New Yorkers, including the entire vaccination system that scheduled more than 4 million citations through the Vax4NYC platform.

Garbage, baskets and containers in NYC:

  • 23,000 trash cans there are distributed throughout New York City, which should not be used for residential or commercial waste.
  • one2,000 tons of garbage and material recycled materials are processed daily in the Big Apple.
  • 9,500 DSNY workers they go around the city daily picking up solid waste for 24 hours each day.
  • $1.3 million in fiscal year 2023 The City will invest for the plan for the new dumpsters in the five boroughs.