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Rats to the rescue: Will the pesky rodents finally be able to compost New Yorkers? | | New York

A rat took aim at an August rally on the steps of New York City Hall. “No to rats,” read one poster. “Starve the rats”, read another. The third was a crowned pink rodent hanging on a black garbage bag throne.

This demonstration was not a generalization of my enthusiasm for rats. It was a gathering of sustainable waste activists. They had suggestions. Composting has the potential to solve the escalating rodent problem spreading across cities. “Our streets and sidewalks will be cleaner,” said Carlina Rivera, a member of the New York City Council.

Rats have long been the scourge of New York City, but the pandemic has made them the number one public nuisance.rise of al fresco dining And the delivery, coupled with waste reduction services, created very favorable conditions for them. Ushma Pandia Mehta, co-founder of consultancy Think Zero, said: The total number of rat complaints since the pandemic began 45,000a few months in the city receive 60% We are getting more calls about rodents than before 2020.

In response, New York City declared a crusade against rats and unleashed an anti-rats arsenal. We have expanded the availability of rat-proof waste containers and established new rules to limit the amount of time trash can hit the curb before collection. This reduces the amount of time rats have to tear through the ubiquitous black plastic trash bags.

Now, the city’s rat problem could hasten the revolutionary change in waste management that proponents and city council members have been trying to push for years.Organic waste advocates are harnessing the power of New Yorkers’ rat hatred to advance a series of bills known as Zero Useless A legislative package to expand composting services across the five boroughs.

“This will create the most tangible and workable path to achieving a very important benchmark,” said Sandy, one of the three council members behind the bills. Nurse says. “

largely 40% 100% of municipal waste is organic and theoretically compostable. City compost advocates say placing these materials, including food waste, in rat-proof compost bins can keep methanogenic waste out of both landfills and rat feet.

In addition to creating city-wide drop-off sites for organic matter and forcing sanitation departments to send zero waste to landfill by 2030, the bill also provides establish street compost pick-ups throughout the city, in addition to existing services in Nurse said the package, if passed, would create “the largest and most robust organic diversion set in the country.”

At the same time, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Revived Enforcement of pre-pandemic regulations on commercial composting.and Preparing for launch A Queens-wide composting pilot program starting in October of this year. DSNY spokesperson Vincent Gragnani said in an email:

The bill fulfills a long-cherished ambition of zero-waste advocates. “With the Activist Network, I think we’ve always dreamed of getting there,” said Kristin Daz Romero, executive director of the Lower East Side Center for Ecology. Some of the bills have been reintroduced. Mouse-proof bottles were introduced many years ago. And environmentalists say composting has long been promoted as a rodent control.

still it was Rat control came to the fore for the first time this year when Nurse was appointed chairman of the Council’s Commission on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management amid a surge in rodent populations. Her conversations with her colleagues revealed the extent of the rat problem and the opportunities it presented.

Nurse claims there is enough support in the package to disable the mayor if he objects. But without public participation, such an ambitious plan could fail. “When you do recycling right, you get a valuable product,” says Oliver Wright, chairman of the Brooklyn Solid Waste Advisory Board (Swab).

This product can be used to offset the cost of waste collection in the form of landfill disposal cost savings. In 2021, the city’s Independent Budget Office estimates that recycling his 35% of organic matter will make disposal prices comparable to what it would cost to treat municipal solid waste. The massive investment in composting infrastructure on display in cities such as San Francisco can even drive costs lower than the cost of garbage collection.

The problem is that most of the residents need to participate in composting and recover what is collected to cover the cost of this program. Otherwise, it becomes a budget burden rather than a cost-cutting measure.

However, previous attempts do not inspire confidence. Pandemic-related budget cuts have disrupted many of the city’s existing composting operations, including an opt-in system that covers most of the city. Gragnani admits that even before the cuts, participation rates were less than ideal. 2018, less than 2% One-third of New York City’s waste is composted.

However, DSNY has tweaked this approach. Unlike pre-pandemic efforts, the city is automatically servicing the entire city rather than enforcing a sign-up process. All Queens residents who wish to participate simply leave a marked compost bin on the street. The city also distributes jerboa-resistant capsules free of charge. According to Gragnani, rats also appear in marketing strategies.

“This is a great opportunity to bring attention to people who care about hygiene issues that they might not otherwise care about,” said Wright, chairman of Brooklyn Swab. “People who don’t care about recycling, frankly, care about street rats.” Rats to the rescue: Will the pesky rodents finally be able to compost New Yorkers? | | New York

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