Hell’s Kitchen Pilot Program Puts Trash in Big Containers—Is It an Answer or a New Problem?
By Arthur Z. Schwartz
On West 45th Street metal bins for household waste and recyclables have been placed in the street, along the curbs, with the goal of clearing the sidewalks and detering rats.
For half a century, New Yorkers have been putting their trash in plastic bags on the sidewalk. The city is now trying to find better ways to dispose of its 14 million tons of municipal and commercial waste annually.
Most major cities around the world use large containers that are lifted by sanitary trucks for emptying. In October, the city awarded consulting firm McKinsey & Company a $4 million contract to study how containerization could be implemented in New York. The 45th Street pilot is part of their study.
“Dumpsterization will affect every block in the city, every neighborhood, every resident,” Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch said. “It’s just mind-blowing, and in my opinion, once you get a chance to introduce containerization in New York City, you have to do it right.”
The idea with the containers is that porters and residents throwing out garbage bags put them in the bin, and not along the curb. The bins basically line the curb where cars used to park. Already, on 45th Street, many have puddles of liquid dripping underneath.
Clare Miflin, founder of the Center for Zero Waste Design, said she sees the 45th Street Zero Waste Design pilot as a positive step, but not really an example of containerization.“They wanted to do a quick pilot that didn’t need to change the existing operations, ie use of bags, so they made these cases on the road,” Miflin said.
The high density in many areas of the city could make containerization difficult. Trash bins would have to replace most parking spaces, and would be out on the street all day every day.
There are no plans at present to increase the collection days for household waste.
In the Village it’s three days a week for regular rubbish and one day for recyclables.