NYC Sanitation needs to clean up its trash pickup


Ryan Vaarsi | Flickr

The Editorial Board

The streets of New York City are routinely covered in piles of black garbage bags that harm both the environment and New Yorkers. The New York City Department of Sanitation must increase its efforts to keep trash off the streets.

New York’s trash challenge is with the more than 10,000 tons of garbage that the city produces a day — and most of it can be seen everywhere one goes.

Recently, rats have become a major problem for New Yorkers across the five boroughs. From subways to apartment buildings to parks, rats can be seen, and the problem comes from the trash not being picked up by the sanitation department.

Rat infestation is such a problem in the city that the New York City Department of Health has a Rat Information Portal, which highlights when a rat inspection was last completed and whether rat activity was detected in that area.

“There had been more than 21,000 rat sightings reported to 311 this year, compared with 15,000 in the same period in 2019 (and about 12,000 in 2014),” according to The New York Times.

Trash being left out on the street for days is an issue for not only the health of New Yorkers, but also for businesses and restaurants.

“You’re not going to eat somewhere that’s disgusting,” Edward Grayson, the sanitation commissioner, said to The New York Times when acknowledging outdoor dining structures.

When the rat problem is within someone’s home it becomes a stressful and unsanitary environment that no one should be living in. It is especially problematic for those that do not have the financial means to cover costs to eliminate a rat or cockroach infestation.

One of the main issues for the delayed trash pickup has been the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all New York City employees, including workers from the sanitation department. The vaccine mandate went into effect on Nov. 1, forcing workers to decide whether they would comply or leave their jobs.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the issue underlining the shortage of workers is that those who are unvaccinated are no longer working for the sanitation department.

“Yeah, we’re definitely seeing that problem in some parts of the city and it’s unacceptable,” de Blasio said, as reported by NY1. “I just want to make it really, really clear: it’s unacceptable. People may not agree with a decision, but this decision is about the health and safety of all New Yorkers.”

While the sanitation department figures out how to account for the loss of employees, it must ensure changes to streets clean. Whether that looks like hiring more workers or increasing work shifts — a change needs to be made.

A cleaner city means a healthier city. As the city keeps fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the winter season approaching, the sanitation department can help by increasing its trash pickups.