Even the mayor’s war on rats won’t be spared in the city’s newest spending cuts. Eric Adams slashed city budgets at the end of last year and the Department of Sanitation is now implementing a 3 percent cut. Along with axing community composting programs and delaying brown bin pickup, the department will be reducing its sidewalk trash can collection service by 40 percent. This means that New Yorkers will see some of their city’s 23,000 street-corner baskets removed altogether.
“In the past, when funding for litter basket service decreased, baskets were serviced less often, leading to the common sight of them overflowing,” DSNY spokesperson Joshua Goodman said in an email. Instead, the plan is to reduce the total number of baskets, while collecting the trash from those that remain with the same frequency. “Given the choice, we would rather there be no litter basket on a corner than an overflowing basket.” Still, the trash has to go somewhere. When the city removed 223 litter baskets in Harlem in 2018 because people were throwing household trash in them, residents complained that the result was just trash piling up on street corners where the baskets had been.
Last year was the year of the new can: Just a few months ago DSNY revealed its new sidewalk litter basket, which was lighter and more rat-proof than the classic green mesh ones — the new basket even made it to Time’s 2023 list of best inventions. But this year, it seems, is the year of the disappearing can.