The Department of Sanitation has pulled the plug on a containerized waste collection program — months earlier than initially intended in Hell’s Kitchen. 

Trash Containers W45th St
Illegal dumping was a problem with the trash containerization project on W45th Street. Photo: Phil O’Brien

DSNY has been collecting trash and recycling from residential buildings in curbside containers on W45th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues) since December 2022 as part of a pilot scheme that began with the De Blasio administration. The program was supposed to run until December 2023, but is coming to a close early in favor of a new initiative taking place in Harlem. 

“Schlepping individual bags from a bin into a standard collection truck was never the go-forward strategy citywide. Fortunately, we were able to get a new pilot for mechanized collection up and running faster than anticipated, now underway in Manhattan Community District 9,” said Vincent Gragnani, a spokesperson for the DSNY. 

In Hell’s Kitchen, containers were placed on the curbside instead of sidewalks in an effort to create more sidewalk space for pedestrians. The tops of the containers open so that trash can be deposited from the sidewalk and there are doors on the other side for sanitation workers to access them from the street.  

“I was sad to see it go because it has been a very interesting project,” said Christine Berthet, co-founder of CHEKPEDS. “The cleanup of the sidewalk was 100% and that was one of the major objectives we had.”

The pilot program was part of DSNY’s Clean Curbs project, with CITIBIN as contractor. Its aim was to reduce the piles of trash bags taking up sidewalk space while also providing rodent-proof containers. The containers were grouped in six locations along the block, each group shared by a few buildings. 

“As a dog walker who walks around the neighborhood a lot, I have really enjoyed the containers on W45th Street. It makes the street much cleaner to walk on and seems to keep vermin in check. Sometimes there is a bit of overflow, but it’s much less than I expected — and still light years better than hundreds of bags of garbage piling up on the sidewalk,” said Gregg, a Hell’s Kitchen resident

Trash Containers W45th St
A worker from HYHK Alliance keeping the area clear in March this year. Photo: Naty Caez

The containers were locked, with access only given to building supers and DSNY workers — preventing those who collect cans and bottles from getting inside. But illegal dumping was a problem, with trash bags often abandoned near to the containers. Another issue was correctly evaluating the size and number of containers that needed, with the original 40 bins being expanded to 54. 

“That is a problem we had at the beginning. Some needed to be much larger than what was planned for. We learned that locks are a major problem and there shouldn’t be locks on those systems,” said Berthet. 

In other neighborhoods, the City has recently started using hidden cameras to identify and fine illegal dumpers.  “What I’m sorry about is that we didn’t have the time to debug the dumping problem and really try to resolve it with different options so that we would have learned and then it could have been applicable to the next project,” she added. 

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  1. It’s a shame that the project was dropped and never expanded to the entire city. It is basically a rather simple solution to a major city problem. Seems like no one in power gives a damn.

  2. I am so glad these eyesores will be removed from our street. Visual and literal pollution is the last thing we need on our streets 24/7. I am not sure who thought that filling the city with dumpsters was a new and innovative idea. They were always overflowing and usually half opened half closed and problematic to access. If rats and mice cant get garbage access, (the campaign for this project shows them packing a suitcase and leaving NYC). They find the nearest food sources… like inside our apartments. This year we’ve eliminated more mice than the six years before that we’ve lived here. Good riddens to dumb political solutions by people who clearly dont live in our neighborhoods. I’m looking at you, Deblasio, Adams, Tisch.

  3. Well said, Sal! Did anyone associated with this program figure out the exorbitant cost involved in putting these dumpsters on every block in NYC?!? Where would the $$$$ come from? Let’s raise the taxes! Just idiotic.

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