Soon, rats may no longer be able to dine at New York City’s hottest restaurants. A newly proposed rule from the Department of Sanitation would require food-related businesses — restaurants, bodegas, catering companies, wholesalers — to put their trash out in containers instead of bags. As the New York Times noted, the rule could apply to around 20 percent of businesses in the city. That’s a lot of rat food.
The move is part of a recent push to implement containerization citywide, which would be one of the most effective ways to mitigate New York’s out-of-control rat problem. Earlier this month, DSNY released a report outlining how the city could containerize up to 89 percent of residential trash, and in April, Kathleen Corradi, the city’s rat czar, announced that she would focus on reducing food waste. (Mayor Adams, however, did not commit to allocating more resources for containerization when asked by Hell Gate at the time.)
Louis Wong, who owns the restaurant Uncle Lou in Chinatown, one of the city’s most rat-plagued neighborhoods, says he’ll follow the rules once they’re in place, but worries it might just be a new way for the city to fine small businesses. Wong says he doesn’t want a “heap of trash out front” either and hopes the city supplies the containers. “We don’t want to make it easier for the rats,” he adds.
In an email, DSNY said that businesses would be responsible for getting a container that “works for them and for their private carter.” As for fines, they would be the same as the usual violations for setting out trash incorrectly, but the new rule would start with a warning period. The next step for the proposed rule is a public hearing on June 22, and it could take effect as early as July. Just in time for hot-garbage summer!